New research: How do hyperlocals contribute to local democracy and what do they need?

February 5th, 2014 by Jerome Turner in Hyperlocal | no comments

Collaborative survey asks about hyperlocals’ contribution to the UK media landscape.

Hyperlocal publishing and community websites are becoming an increasingly important feature of the UK media landscape, supplementing existing print titles and other local platforms.  In some places they may even be the only form of dedicated media coverage.

While the term ‘hyperlocal’ isn’t favoured by all, it is recognized at a governmental level, with a brief mention in the Department of Media, Culture and Sport’s recent consultation on media plurality as a “key source of information for people in specific communities”.

And new – and extensive – funding is being made available: through NESTA’s Destination Local project and the Technology Strategy Board.

However, there has been little systematic collection of data about the practice and direct needs of hyperlocal producers and consumers.

The hyperlocal strand of the Creative Citizens project at Cardiff University and Birmingham City University aims to fill this gap by looking at the emergence of neighbourhood news websites that have started to materialise in scores of communities around the UK.

These researchers have now joined forces with the media plurality project at the University of Westminster to design a research questionnaire.

The survey, supported by TalkAboutLocal, aims to understand better the nature of hyperlocal operations, and the problems or issues that those who run them are facing.

It has already been sent out to hundreds of hyperlocal sites on the TAL mailing list and in the Openly Local directory. The initial response has been very encouraging.

But we think there are more voices to hear. If you have already participated, please pass the link to fellow publishers. If not, please consider taking part – it shouldn’t take any longer than 15 mins.

Our collaborative survey

We want to collect information about your main hyperlocal activity: it could be a website, blog, Facebook page, Facebook group, forum, Twitter feed, Tumblr, or something else. For simplicity, we use the word ‘site’ throughout the questionnaire although we will occasionally ask questions about specific media such as Facebook.

In the survey you will be asked about the way in which you run your site, the kinds of content you produce and your reach, and the support you would like in future.

This questionnaire should take around 15 minutes to complete. The data will be aggregated and anonymised which means your replies cannot be linked to you or your site’s name in any published findings.

There is a space at the end to leave your name, email and site name if you would like to be sent results and subsequent reports. Many thanks for your participation, which we believe will benefit all those involved in hyperlocal projects.

The questionnaire can be accessed at this link:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/J8XDSRF

Please do not fill in the survey twice – if you took part at the end of 2013 there is no need to do so again.

For further information, please contact::

Professor Steven Barnett, University of Westminster – Email: s.barnett@wmin.ac.uk

Dr Andy Williams, Cardiff University – Email: WilliamsA28@cardiff.ac.uk

Dave Harte, Birmingham City University – Email: Dave.Harte@bcu.ac.uk

Or leave comments and questions below!

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