Head on over to The Richard Jones Journalism Blog to read about what British journalist Richard Jones has learned from running a hyperlocal site. Jones is founder and editor of Saddleworth News, a hyperlocal site all about the news, events, and happenings of the English town, Saddleworth.
Here’s the first two lessons Jones writes about in his blog post:
1. We need to lower our threshold of what we think news is
An old quote from an old American newspaper editor has it that “News is anything which makes a reader go ‘gee whiz!’” While it’s unlikely that anyone has actually said ‘gee whiz’ for several decades, even if they did I’m certain it would rarely be in response to a story about a missing cat. Which I suppose is why you don’t often see missing cat reports in the media.
But for every snarky journalist who mocks the idea of running an appeal for information on Tiddles from Tiddletown, there’ll be other people in that specific locality who are genuinely interested. And that is what makes it news.
Jasper the cat was found after an appeal on Saddleworth News. So there.
2. It’s not worth trying to be comprehensive
If you’re running a hyperlocal site, the chances are it’s not your full-time job. So you won’t have loads of spare time to devote to it. Trying to make it to every council meeting, every football match and every coffee morning is a sure way to tire yourself out, and make you quickly resent what should be an enjoyable thing to do.
If you can’t make a local event because you had something else on, be honest with your readers and say so. Maybe one will be able to supply you with pictures or a report, or you could link to coverage elsewhere online. Focus on doing what you’re able to do and do it well, rather than trying to take on the impossible.