Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Inside the M60 -A Manifesto
Hyperlocal is the thing now and for the past couple of months,myself and fellow Manchester journalist Louise Bolotin have been working on the concept of a new hyperlocal project for Manchester.
Going under the title of Inside the M60 will be a local hyperlocal site supplying relevant news and information to the community of Greater Manchester with the expressed purpose of giving a voice to the opinions of the disenfranchised community.
Inside the M60 will fill a niche created by the failures of local journalism, taking advantage of the low entry and running costs of the today’s media platforms and fully utilising the tools of modern journalism.
It will address the issues of concern to the general population of the city, scrutinising the policies of local government and other public and private bodies within the city but also unafraid to tackle even the smallest issues that affect the population of Greater Manchester.
We both firmly believe that as we approach the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the country stands on the cusp of dramatic social and economic changes. The causes and consequences of the financial crisis of 2007-08 have yet to be resolved, there are massive social issues to address and our lifestyles need to adapt to the pressing environmental issues threatening the planet.
Next year’s elections will see the country make a choice for the future as distinct as those made in 1945 and 1979.
There will be a focus on community, with whoever wins the next election pledging to initiate community action driving change upwards.
This coincides with the collapse of local journalism as the newspaper industry has failed to respond to the challenges of the internet and the decline of advertising.
As a result of cost-cutting measures, local papers have by nature become more insular, relying more and more on “churnalism” and breaking that crucial relationship with their readership and their customers, the advertisers.
There are, therefore, opportunities for niche journalism projects with a small cost base that take advantage of the low cost of entry and can act as the voice for these communities.
At the same time, there are many communities that have become essentially disenfranchised from their city and society in general. Voting in local and national elections is at an all-time low, reflecting both apathy for the political system (for example, exasperation with this year’s parliamentary expenses scandal) and a consensus that “my vote has little or no effect”.
There exist communities where three generations have effectively slipped out of the work ethic, living on benefits as a matter of course and creating almost an underclass of society that exists in parallel to the economy.
In Manchester, the poorest communities live almost within shouting distance of the bright lights and investment of the city centre and yet have little or nothing in common with it. At the same time, technology has become alien to them and they are in danger of being on the wrong side of an increasing digital divide.
Keep reading this blog for more announcements and ways in which you can take part