Hyperlocal – one every two minutes

April 4th, 2012 by Dave Harte in Hyperlocal | no comments

This blog post was originally published at Dave Harte’s blog.

I’ve been wondering exactly how many news stories UK Hyperlocal websites publish. Last month I had a meeting with Ofcom where I suggested that it might be a decent amount. So after a bit of research, outlined below, it looks like there is a news story published on a Hyperlocal website every three two minutes*.

Here’s what I did to try and find this out.

  1. I looked at all the RSS feeds listed on Chris Taggart‘s Openly Local database of Hyperlocals.
  2. I corrected those that weren’t resolving and omitted those pointing to now-dead sites.
  3. I took out those that were feeds for a forum as they tend to include lots of ‘stuff for sale’ messages along with their replies (plus, at this stage, I’m not too interested in ‘conversation’).
  4. I created an OPML file for the remaining 431 feeds.
  5. I created a Google Reader Bundle so that I would then have a single RSS feed.
  6. I used ifttt.com to push that feed to a new twitter account @Alllocalnews
  7. I counted how many tweets that feed produced. I use a google spreadsheet created by Martin Hawksey (who also gave me the ‘bundle’ advice above) to produce pretty visuals and to archive the tweets.

This is all a bit rough and ready as the Openly Local database is currently being worked on to update it and I know there are other data sources out there.

In the next few weeks I’ll be refining the list of RSS feeds, adding to them where appropriate and most importantly, deciding on a sampling period so the counting can be a bit more accurate (the ‘one every three minutes’ figure comes from the two hours of me watching it this morning – update: see note* below).

My spending time on this is part of a new research project I am part of which looks at ‘Creative Citizenship’. An examination of ‘Hyperlocal’ is one of three strands in the project. Overall the project’s research methods will be more qualitative than quantitative but one of the things we said we’d do initially is get a sense of the scale of Hyperlocal publishing in the UK.

So, roughly, kind of, one every three two minutes. More than I thought there’d be.

About that @Alllocalnews twitter feed. Follow it as your own risk as it just spits out lots of news stories with no location context. However, I like its lack of context as there’s a kind of mystery to it, the link could take you anywhere in the UK.

For more on Hyperlocal read Nesta’s new report, written by Damian Radcliffe.

*Have updated this after spending the day monitoring it. Seems like a lot gets published from lunchtime onwards. 44 stories were published between 1pm and 2pm so the average is adjusted. As I say though, I’ll create a proper sampling period in due course once the data is cleaner.

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