#TAL10: Taking steps towards bridging the hyperlocal and old media divide

Saturday morning for me last week meant a trip to Leeds for the Talk About Local unconference. In a nutshell Talk About Local is an organisation which seeks to support the growth of hyperlocal and community sites, and is run by a chap called Will Perrin.

As I’ve said on this blog before,  I think there are plenty of ways in which newspapers and hyperlocal sites can work together, benefitting themselves and their respective users in the process. One of the blockers to this happening in the past has been misunderstanding on both sides about what the other is about.

On one hand, there are some journalists who don’t particularly like what hyperlocal sites are doing, especially those run by people as a voluntary venture,  because they fear it might put them out of  a job are are run by ‘Sid Nutter’ type ranters.  On the other side of the fence, the idea that all ‘big’ media journalists will do is steal content without sourcing has become an often-cited criticism.

And while there will always be an example people can find to cite each viewpoint, I have believed for a while that both sides – if that isn’t a divisive term – could benefit from working together.

To that end, and at his suggestion, I joined Philip John of The Lichfield Blog in suggesting a session at TAL on Saturday, exploring ways in which ‘big media’ can work with hyperlocal sites.

Phil’s post can be found here, while the Guardian’s live coverage of the event can be found here. I’m a tad disappointed by the conclusions drawn at the end of our session on the live blog – while some people may have still felt wary about possible relationships, the people I spoke to at the time and subsequently seemed enthusiastic about the potential, and the mood and comments in the room during the session were very positive.

That aside, there’s a lot I took away from the day which I’ve thought about for a few days, especially around the idea of ‘What can a newspaper reporter do to work with a hyperlocal site?’ which hopefully will be of use to some people.


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