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Supported by Cardiff University’s Engagement Projects

Cefnogwyd gan Prosiectau Ymgysylltu Prifysgol Caerdydd

WHERE ARE WE NOW?
UK hyperlocal media and
community journalism in 2015
by Damian Radcliffe

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CONTENTS
03
04
06
09
12
15
17
21
24
26
28
30
32
33
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Introduction
Top 10 Hyperlocal Facts
Market Context
What Content Do Hyperlocals Produce?
Hyperlocal Audience Needs and Behaviours
Publisher Characteristics and Experience
Business Models and Funding
Tackling the Democratic Deficit
Media Plurality
Discoverability
Community Impact
Challenges for the Future
Concluding Remarks
Summary of Recommendations
Endnotes

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INTRODUCTION
INTRODUCT
In 2012 Nesta published the first in-depth
look at the UK’s emerging hyperlocal and
community media scene1. “Here and Now:
UK hyperlocal media today”2 showed how
technology had eroded the traditional
newspaper industry, whilst also enabling
new entrants to create and distribute
local news and information at a low cost.
It outlined the potential - and the major
strategic challenges - facing this nascent
industry, using case studies to highlight
ingredients for success.
It was hoped that this landscape report would help
stimulate discussion, debate and further research into this
embryonic industry. Three years on, that has certainly been
the case.

Extensive academic research has been led by Cardiff,
Birmingham City and Westminster Universities; with Nesta
commissioning a wide range of industry insights. Action
research has been undertaken by the Centre for Community
Journalism (C4CJ) at Cardiff University, and practitioners
have benefitted from training and support provided by
organisations such as Talk About Local and C4CJ.

Meanwhile, Nesta, Innovate UK (the body formerly known
as the Technology Strategy Board) and the Carnegie UK
Trust have each provided funding to test and evaluate
new hyperlocal initiatives.
Collectively, these bodies – in conjunction with the Media
Standards Trust, Ofcom, University of Central Lancashire
(UCLan), the Community Media Association, Media Trust
and others - have raised the profile, and deepened
our understanding, of this maturing media sector.
As a result, awareness of UK hyperlocal media
among policy makers, the wider media industry,
researchers and consumers is at an all-time
high; and we understand the drivers behind
hyperlocal markets, audiences and publishers,
as never before. We also understand the
considerable civic value it creates in the
context of general local media decline.
That is why Nesta and Cardiff University have
commissioned this report. We feel that there is
a strong need to analyse recent developments
to assess our collective learning and to better
understand the long-term needs of the sector.
This report has analysed more than 40 recent
academic and industry reports to provide a
definitive view of the UK’s hyperlocal and

community journalism sector in 2015. In doing this,
we have analysed the current evidence base and
identified opportunities and challenges for the future.
Our research shows a sector that plays an increasingly
important role in supporting the information needs of
communities. Hyperlocal output can be found across
all platforms, produced by a mixture of committed
volunteers and entrepreneurial journalists, driven by a
desire to reflect and enhance the communities in which
they live and work. This is particularly valuable at a time
of continued cuts to established local media, including
newspaper circulation3, titles4 and journalists5.
Yet, despite increased awareness and evidence, this
remains an industry at a crossroads.
Our report identifies several key considerations that need
to be addressed by policy makers, researchers, industry
and funders if the UK’s hyperlocal sector is to successfully
continue its evolution and fulfil its early promise.

SARA MOSELEY,

KATHRYN GEELS,

Distinguished Visiting Fellow and
Development Director, Cardiff
University School of Journalism,
Media and Cultural Studies

Programme Manager Destination
Local, Nesta

September 2015

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TOP 10 HYPERLOCAL FACTS
02

+400
01

There are more than 400 active hyperlocal
websites in the UK, compared with 1,045 local
papers. New sites are being uncovered by
researchers on a daily basis.
(Cardiff and Birmingham City University)

One in ten say they use
local community websites
or apps at least weekly (7
per cent in 2013). 17 per
cent of UK internet users
use websites or apps each
week for news about their
local area or community; a
further 31 per cent do so
quarterly. Consumption of
this content online is
increasing.

04

Functional information about community events,
services, local weather and traffic, are the most
popular content types with hyperlocal audiences.
(Nesta / Kantar Media)

(Ofcom)

03

The most common topic covered by
hyperlocal media is community activities
e.g. festivals, clubs and societies, local
councils and the services they provide.
(Cardiff, Westminster and Birmingham City University)

05

05

72 per cent of hyperlocal publishers have joined in or
supported a local campaign in the last two years. 42 per
cent have started their own campaigns.
(Cardiff, Westminster and Birmingham City University)

06

Investigative reporting, which has
helped uncover controversial new
information about local civic issues
or events, has been produced by
almost half of the UK’s online
hyperlocal publishers in the last
two years.
(Cardiff, Westminster and Birmingham City University)

07

09

13 per cent of hyperlocal websites
generate more than £500 per
month, although most local news
sites are self-funded.
(Cardiff, Westminster and Birmingham City University)

Audiences aged 35-44 are more likely to have looked
at websites / apps for news and event information
for their local area or community (77 per cent vs. 69
per cent). Those aged 55-64 and 75+ are less likely
to have visited online local community websites,
although more than half of this demographic (59
per cent and 51 per cent) has.

10

Investment in UK hyperlocal
media is less than £5m in the UK
over the last three years,
compared with more than $400m
in the US over two years. UK
investments are often one-offs.
(Media Standards Trust)

(Ofcom)

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48 per cent of site owners have journalistic training
or experience working in the mainstream media.
(Cardiff, Westminster and Birmingham City University)

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MARKET CONTEXT
KEY POINTS:

HYPERLOCAL CONTEXT AND
MARKET SIZE

• The UK has more than 400 active hyperlocal
websites, compared with 1,045 local papers.

Hyperlocal and community content can be found on
dedicated websites, in local print publications6 and
across social networks7 and audio8 services. This content
pertains “to a small community such as a town, village or
single postcode”9 and is often supported by activity and
engagement on social media.

• On-going research, to be published later this
year, has identified more than 500 online
hyperlocal services. The fragmented, grassroots,
nature of this sector means that capturing
exact numbers is difficult and likely to be highly
underestimated.
• Community and local content matters to UK
audiences; the majority consume it monthly,
with Ofcom data from 2012 and 2015
suggesting that hyperlocal audiences are
increasing.





There has been investment in this sector in
recent years; but this has often been one-off.
Countries such as the USA have seen much
larger levels of investment, and a greater
recognition of the need for ongoing financial
support to sustain local news services.

There are 408 active10 hyperlocal websites in the UK;11
although due to lack of regulation and registration
requirements the real figure may be much higher.12 Based
on current completed data, Birmingham has 20 known
active sites, the most in any UK authority area; while
London is home to at least 85 active hyperlocal websites.13
Overall, an average of 15 items per hour is produced
by these hyperlocal websites; rising to 24 items an hour
between 7am and 7pm, akin to one story every two
minutes.14
The Carnegie UK Trust is working with Talk About Local
to more effectively map the current sector.15 A new
hyperlocal media map will be published this autumn.
Initial efforts have identified - among other locations
- 48 previously unrecorded websites in Scotland and
nearly 100 in Devon and Somerset. This supports the

assumption that the extent of UK hyperlocal media has
previously been under-reported.16
Creation and consumption of highly localised content is
a global phenomenon. Around 18 per cent of the Centre
for Community Journalism’s (C4CJ) network of community
news services are from outside the UK. A Massive Open
Online Course (MOOC) on community journalism run
by Cardiff University in 2014 and 2015 attracted more
than 22,000 learners worldwide, including existing and
aspirational publishers of hyperlocal media.

COMPARISON WITH TRADITIONAL
LOCAL MEDIA MARKETS
Whatever local media sector you’re in, the financial
dynamics - for most players - remains challenging.
This has had an impact on the amount of local content
available for audiences.
The UK is home to 1,045 local and regional newspapers
(2011 Newspaper Society figures),17 but between 2005 and
2012, 292 papers closed and only 40 new titles launched.18
Circulation data for 2014 from the ABC19 showed that 93
per cent of newspapers have a falling readership.
Emily Shackleton, writing for TheMediaBriefing, found that

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the sector has seen a net reduction of 177 titles in the past
decade, and that this trend shows no signs of abating:
“The UK is also still losing more papers than it is
gaining, with 2014 being a particularly worrying year
for the industry with a net loss of 15 newspapers.”20
Many local commercial radio stations reduced their
levels of local news and production after Ofcom
revised its localness guidelines in 2010. Ofcom notes:
“networking has become far more prevalent, and some
operators have chosen significantly to reduce the length
of local news bulletins.”21
Meanwhile the success of the new tier of Local TV
broadcasters has been mixed. Although 16 stations are
now on air,22 Birmingham based City TV failed to launch23
and London Live’s CEO has admitted that its future is
under “constant review”.24

LOCAL CONTENT MATTERS TO
AUDIENCES
Research by Ofcom and Nesta has identified the value
placed by consumers on hyperlocal content.
Nesta’s work in 2013 with Kantar outlined the

often highly functional nature of hyperlocal media
consumption. Among survey respondents, weather,
news and entertainment were the most popular types of
content being accessed.25 Hyperlocal media also plays
an important civic role which helps root people in a
community and reflects a sense of place.26
Ofcom’s 2015 report into “Adults’ media use and
attitudes” reported 17 per cent of UK internet users use
websites or apps each week for news about their local
area or community; a further 31 per cent do so quarterly.
These numbers were up year-on-year.27
The regulator’s Internet Citizens 2014 report28 had
previously recorded that 51 per cent of UK adults browse
online for local news at least monthly, and that one in
five say that online is their most important local news
medium. Perhaps most significantly their report revealed
“one in ten say they use local community websites or
apps at least weekly (7% in 2013).”
Separately, Ofcom’s 2012 Communications Market Report
stated that “use of hyperlocal websites is growing”, and
identified “around 1 in 7 (14 per cent) of people state that
they use a local community website on at least a monthly
basis”.29 This data reinforced earlier Ofcom research
(2009) which established that - while consumer definitions
of local are blurred - 92 per cent of adults consume local

media with 88 per cent using multiple sources for local
news and information.30

INVESTMENT IN HYPERLOCAL
Since 2012 we have seen a number of investments
designed to grow UK hyperlocal media, and to further
understand the sector’s potential. This includes grants
from Nesta and Innovate UK, partnership funding from the
Carnegie UK Trust, as well as support from Cardiff University.
Investments have funded editorial overheads, service
development, technical innovation, training and provided
opportunities for practitioners to come together. By
creating a space for hyperlocal journalists to share and
showcase work, C4CJ has, for example, developed
detailed case studies which highlight innovation, breadth
of content and evolution of practice.
The Media Standards Trust has determined that
“altogether this amounts to less than £5m in the UK over
three years, as compared to more than $400m in the US
over two years.” As a result:
“The funds invested in the transition of local news
and information to the digital era in the US are at an
entirely different scale to the funds invested in the UK.”

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Although this UK figure excludes private investment, a
survey of UK hyperlocal publishers found that this type of
income is seldom seen at an ultra-local level.31

RECOMMENDATIONS

This conclusion reflects several major differences between
the UK and US and the remedies available to address
challenges in the provision of local news and information.
These differences include: recognised need, charity status
for non-profit news organisations, support from large
foundations and the availability of contestable funding.32

1.1





Few of these mechanisms are available in the UK,
even though the need is just as acute. Moreover, most
investment in the UK has been one-off. As a result, ongoing support - designed to grow and sustain the sector
over the medium to long-term - is probably what is now
most needed.

1.2 Researchers should undertake a regular
census of sites – including the frequency and
types of content they produce - based on the
revised map.
1.3


Revisions of http://localweblist.net/ by the
Carnegie UK Trust and Talk About Local will
provide a richer understanding of the size and
scale of the UK’s hyperlocal sector. However,
there is a need for more regular monitoring,
with incentives for publishers to self-register,
so that this map does not go out of date.

Ofcom’s consumer research should continue
to chart usage of hyperlocal and community
media, as well as more traditional media
outlets, giving us a valuable longitudinal dataset.

1.4 Without a different mindset, or approach to
intervention, investment in this space will
still fall considerably behind other markets
where similar local media issues are being
addressed.

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WHAT CONTENT DO HYPERLOCAL
CHANNELS PRODUCE?
KEY POINTS



Hyperlocal publishers produce a wide range of
content, in line with the types of output
historically produced by local newspapers and
other local media.




The most common topic covered by hyperlocals
relate to community activities (e.g. festivals,
clubs and societies), local councils and the
services they provide.






Publishers also engage in campaigns and
investigative reporting. 72 per cent have
supported a local campaign in the last two
years. 42 per cent have started their own. Nearly
half have engaged in investigative reporting; a
mainstay of public service news provision.

TYPES OF OUTPUT
Hyperlocal media outlets in the UK produce a variety of
valuable content. This includes traditional news reporting,
sport and other subjects – such as events, arts, links to local
services, property, food and drink features and what’s on
guides – which have always been provided by local media.
“... this is a sector that produces valuable work, and
which consistently contributes to civic discourse and
dissemination of information in the public interest. In
doing this, the sector is generating content which creates
the same civic, cultural and community benefits that
traditional media has been delivering for decades.”33
These outputs are accompanied by storytelling, local history,
the running of campaigns and traditional outputs of the fourth
estate; holding authority to account by reporting on electoral
hustings, using open data to act as “armchair auditors” and live
reporting from planning, local and parish council meetings.

CONTENT ANALYSIS
To better understand this output, researchers from
Cardiff University and Birmingham City University
held 34 semi-structured interviews with producers,
completed the largest content analysis to date of
UK hyperlocal news content (1,941 posts from 313
sites), and worked with colleagues at Westminster
University to produce the biggest ever survey of UK
community news practitioners (183 responses).34
Their content analysis coded every other story
(odd numbers) on each site, a total of 1,941
posts from 3,819 posts published on 313
active websites between 8 and 18 May 2012.
It showed the most popular subject covered
was local community activities (13 per cent),
followed by stories about local councils
and council services (11.7 per cent). Other
notably large categories included crime and
business news entertainment, and the arts.
“This kind of coverage of local
government contrasts somewhat with

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the UK’s mainstream local news media, which has
scaled back its coverage of local politics in recent
years.”35

by website owners, in the past two years related to: local
community events (97 per cent), entertainment and
culture (86 per cent), local government council meetings
(81 per cent), local government planning issues (79 per
cent) and local businesses (75 per cent).36

PUBLISHER SURVEY FINDS
SIMILAR RESULTS
These findings were reinforced by a 2014 survey of 156
hyperlocal news producers.
It found that the most covered topics, as self-declared

64.1%
(100)

62.8%
(98)

62.8%
(98)

60.3%
(94)

56.4%
(88)

Figure 1: Thinking of the content that you have published in the last two years, which of the following topics have you covered? (n=156)37

55.8%
(87)

35.3%
(55)

34.6%
(54)

29.5%

OTHER

(109)

HOSPITALS

69.9%

CANDIDATES
FOR GENERAL
ELECTIONS

(117)

SPORTING EVENTS

75%

INDIVIDUAL
COMMUNITY MEMBERS

(121)

LOCAL ELECTIONS
OR CANDIDATES

77.6%

CRIMES

(123)

SCHOOLS

78.8%

POLICE

(126)

TRANSPORT

80.8%

LOCAL BUSINESS

CULTURAL OR
ENTERTAINMENT EVENTS

COMMUNITY EVENTS

(134)

LOCAL HISTORY

85.9%

PLANNING

(146)

COUNCIL MEETINGS
OR DECISIONS

93.6%

(46)

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CAMPAIGNS
Alongside these activity areas a significant number of
sites run local campaigns and/or engage in investigative
reporting. A 2014 survey of hyperlocal practitioners
discovered nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of them
had joined in or supported a local campaign in the last
two years.
“Moreover, 42 per cent had “started a campaign
which sought to change things locally” in the same
period, an impressive figure given the time and
effort involved in starting, building, and sustaining
a new campaign.”38
These campaigns cover a wide variety of topics;
ranging from planning and licensing to public services,
improvements to amenities, Council accountability and
local business issues. Publishers reported that the most
important of these topics were planning and licensing
issues, although local public services, business and
environmental issues were also ranked highly.
The average number of campaigns run by hyperlocal sites
in the past two years was five, with the mean number of
campaigns initiated directly by these sites being three.
As the report authors’ note: “though apparently small
numbers, we should remember that campaigns are often

long-running stories which are covered repeatedly over time.”
For audiences, campaigns are broadly viewed as less
valuable than local news information or community
events, although older audiences have a higher level of
interest in local campaigns. Nesta’s research revealed that
“compared to 35-54 year olds, those aged 55 and older
are more likely to select local politics, campaigns and
elections as their most important genre of information.”39
Nonetheless, the social impact of campaigns can far
outweigh audience interest levels. Campaigning activities such as the successful effort to save a community ambulance
in Alston40 - are an intrinsic part of local media’s role.41

RECOMMENDATIONS
2.1 Re-run the 2012 content analysis - using the
revised Weblist database - to see if there have
been any changes in the types of stories
being covered.
2.2


Share more widely case studies captured by
C4CJ, the Carnegie UK Trust and others,
highlighting examples of great stories and
content innovation from hyperlocal publishers.

2.3


Identify the societal impact of campaigns,
including influential case studies, to more
effectively demonstrate the role of this sector
at a grassroots level.

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HYPERLOCAL AUDIENCE
NEEDS AND BEHAVIOURS
KEY POINTS:
• There is an active audience for online hyperlocal
media; although different studies report very
different consumption figures.
• The growth of mobile devices is a key driver in
increased frequency of consumption.



Different topic genres appeal to different age
groups, but functional information about
events, services, local weather and traffic, tends
to have the broadest appeal.

Audience research consistently demonstrates the regular
consumption of hyperlocal media and that readership is
increasing. Because “hyperlocal” is a vague label42 disliked
by many content producers43 - and not necessarily
understood by audiences - consumption levels may well
be underestimated.

OFCOM AUDIENCE DATA

challenge for the sector.48 Despite this, Kantar’s fieldwork
provided a number of positives, including:

The regulator found in 2012 that “use of hyperlocal
websites is growing” and that “around 1 in 7 (14 per cent)
of people state that they use a local community website
on at least a monthly basis.”44

1. Forty–five per cent of all UK adults (53 per cent
of those with Internet access) had accessed
some form of hyperlocal media.

In 2014, this time using a weekly metric, Ofcom
recorded45 one in ten saying they use local community
websites or apps every week. A separate 2014 study
disclosed “almost half (48%) of those who say they use
local media say they use the internet for local news
information now more than they did two years ago.”46

2. Mobile devices are increasing consumption
levels; including frequency of usage. Among
those who said that they consumed more
hyperlocal content than two years ago, fifty-five
per cent claimed this was due to them getting a
smartphone and/or a tablet.

More widely, in 2015, 69 per cent of UK internet users
stated they have visited websites or downloaded apps for
news about or events in their local community.47

3. “Twenty–nine per cent of hyperlocal media
users who use a smartphone say they use it to
access hyperlocal content every day (equivalent
to 7 per cent of UK adults).”

NESTA / KANTAR
HYPERLOCAL REACH

Given the continued growth in take-up of mobile devices
- Ofcom notes that 66 per cent of UK adults now own a
smartphone49 - these figures may well have increased in
the last two years.

Research published in 2013 by Nesta echoes Ofcom’s
earlier view that capturing audience attention is a

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PRACTITIONER SURVEY

WHAT AUDIENCES WANT

Understanding the size of hyperlocal audiences is
complicated by the fact that a quarter of online
publishers are unaware of their website analytics.50 The
reasons for this may include lack of skills or a lack of
interest in traffic data. Nesta’s efforts to explore “a more
strategic use of website and social media analytics” may
yield some valuable outputs for the sector.51

Ofcom has attributed key benefits of local media53 as being
“things I need to know to help me live in my local area”
and “things I want to know to feel like I belong in my local
area.”54 Nesta’s work with Kantar reinforces this view. Survey
respondents identified, weather, news and entertainment
as the most popular types of content they accessed.55

Among publishers who are aware of their audience
size, there is considerable variance.



Two producers claimed a monthly average of
over 100,000 unique users
33 reported claim between 10,000 and 100,000
The remaining 55 were below 10,000.

The average number of unique visitors to UK
hyperlocals is 17,270, although, as the researchers note,
“this is skewed by a small number of sites with large
audiences.” The median number of page impressions in
this cohort was 5,039.52

OTHER TOPIC

7%

LOCAL SOCIAL SERVICES
BUSINESS NEWS

10%

OTHER LOCAL BUSINESSES

12%

OTHE LOCAL (NON-BREAKING) NEWS

14%

LOCAL PLANNING, BUILDING & DEVELOPMENT

15%

ITEMS FOR SALE/CLASSIFIED ADS

16%

LOCAL POLITICS, CAMPAIGNS & ELECTIONS

18%

“Younger respondents (16–34) place a greater
importance on information about restaurants,
clubs and bars and sports than those aged
35–54, while those aged 55 and over place more
emphasis on local arts and cultural events than
the youngest age group (16–34).”

LOCAL JOB OPENINGS

19%

LOCAL PROPERTY FOR SALE/RENT

19%

LOCAL SCHOOLS/EDUCATION

21%

30%
32%
41%
50%

LOCAL CRIME

22%

LOCAL SPORTS

22%

LOCAL ARTS & CULTURAL EVENTS

25%
27%

8%
9%

OTHER LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACTIVITY

Not surprisingly, Nesta found that different topic genres
appeal to different age groups. Their analysis found that
“life–stage factors influence consumption of hyperlocal
media.” For example:

2%

LOCAL TRAVEL INFORMATION
COMMUNITY EVENTS

LOCAL RESTAURANTS, CLUBS AND BARS
ENTERTAINMENT / WHAT’S ON
LOCAL BREAKING NEWS

LOCAL WEATHER

Figure 2: Hyperlocal media use ranked by topic genres

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THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL
Social media is increasingly important as a tool for
sharing and finding content.56 Subsequently, it is no
surprise that hyperlocal publishers are active on these
mediums. 91 per cent of UK producers featured in
2014’s publisher survey reported that they use Twitter
and 79 per cent use Facebook.
Despite being a smaller social network across the
general population, Twitter is a more popular social
channel for UK hyperlocal publishers than Facebook.





Nine per cent of respondents have more
than 10,001 Twitter followers;
Thirteen per cent between 5,001 and 10,000;
37 per cent between 1,001 and 5,000 followers;
The remaining 40 per cent have attracted
fewer than 1,000.

On Facebook, six per cent of the practitioner
survey respondents have more than 10,000 likes,
32 per cent have between 1,001 and 10,000; and
the majority (62 per cent) have fewer than 1,000.
Given the greater popularity of Facebook with the
overall internet population, this may be an area
where hyperlocals should focus more attention.

Internet users in an area may be active on Facebook, yet unaware
of the hyperlocal content produced on their doorstep.57
Blog Preston’s Ed Walker found, in early 2013, that a
greater focus on Facebook - including more consistent
posting, tone and quality of updates – grew their “likes”
from 550 to 693. “Considering the Facebook page has
been running for about three and a half years, to put on
143 fans in 30 days is a good achievement,” he observed.58

THE RISE OF VIDEO
The advent of smartphones and tablets, cheaper data
packages and 3G/4G mobile connectivity have all contributed
to changes in online content consumption. Alongside greater
social media usage, video is increasingly popular, particularly
in bite-sized chunks on sites using responsive design.
Given these trends, hyperlocal publishers need to ensure that
they are not left behind; and that they provide content in the
formats that reflect consumer habits and preferences. Cisco
predicts by 2018, globally, video will account for 80 per cent of all
IP traffic. They also note that “last year’s mobile data traffic was
nearly 30 times the size of the entire global Internet in 2000.”59
Although there are exceptions such as Your Thurrock,60 the
majority of hyperlocal websites are still very text heavy, with little

video or multimedia content; partly because of the time
and skill required to produce this material. However, there
is a risk that audiences will see sites as old fashioned and
irrelevant if they do not accommodate these wider trends.

RECOMMENDATIONS
3.1 Publishers may benefit from focussing more
of their social media activity on Facebook.
3.2






Further, on-going, research into hyperlocal
media consumption will be welcome, using
consistent metrics, which will allow for more
longitudinal analysis. This should include
analysis of the total size of the UK hyperlocal
market (no of publishers, income +
audience). 500+ websites will, collectively,
enjoy substantial reach.

3.3



Tailored tools and training to enable
publishers to benefit from consumer trends
in mobile, social and video consumption
could help to ensure their on-going relevance
to local audiences.

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PUBLISHER CHARACTERISTICS
AND EXPERIENCE
KEY POINTS



Producers of hyperlocal content include trained
journalists, community activists and
concerned citizens. They do not necessarily
describe their work as journalism.





Seven out of ten producers identify their work
as a form of active community participation;
more than half define it as local journalism, and
more than half as see it as an expression of
active citizenship.

There is no such thing as a typical hyperlocal site; and no
such thing as a typical hyperlocal publisher. Just as sites
deploy a wide range of different business models so it’s
also difficult to apply labels to the people behind them.
This loosely defined sector is made up of many
constituent parts. New research by Cardiff University, and
others, has provided greater clarity about the background
and motivations of this cohort.

MOTIVATIONS
The drivers behind producing hyperlocal content can vary
considerably. Publishers include entrepreneurial journalists,
reporters already deeply steeped in a community, as well as
community activists, concerned citizens and people with no
previous media experience.
These groups have taken advantage of easy to use digital
tools such as WordPress, Twitter and Facebook to create
hyperlocal channels. Many of them have also embraced
opportunities such as C4CJ’s MOOC61 to more develop
their skills and enhance their knowledge. Retired journalist
Geraldine Durrant, Editor of East Grinstead Online, is just
one person who fell into this camp:
“As weekly print editions across the UK continue to
fold, I have long thought it was about time someone
– and I had no thought at all of it being me – started
an online news site covering the town from within
the town, and not from miles away. So for the past
two or three years I have been waiting for someone
to do just that, and had someone done so I would
have been delighted to pile in and give them a

hand. But no-one did. And eventually I realised noone was better placed to do it than I was.”62
Geraldine took part in C4CJ’s 2014 MOOC in
community journalism and kept in touch for further
support and advice. Her site now attracts c.50,000
unique visitors a month. More than 10,000 people
participated in 2015’s MOOC and analysis by Cardiff
University found “over 40 per cent of learners are
already community journalists, or intend to set up or
contribute to a community news site.”63

PREVIOUS MEDIA EXPERIENCE
Respondents to 2014’s Hyperlocal Practitioners survey
reflected the diversity of the sector; with respondents
split almost 50:50 between those with previous - and
current - media experience and those who stated that
they had no formal media - or journalistic - training.

(23)

FREELANCE WORK
FOR LOCAL MEDIA

14.3%

10.7%

(20)

(15)

OTHER

16.4%

FREELANCE
WORK FOR
SPECIALIST MEDIA

(26)

FREELANCE
WORK FOR
NATIONAL MEDIA

(23)

18.6%

TRAINED/WORKED
IN SPECIALIST MEDIA

16.4%

TRAINED/WORKED
IN NATIONAL MEDIA

NONE AT ALL

(73)

TRAINED/WORKED
IN LOCAL MEDIA

52.1%

UNDERGRADUATE/
POSTGRADUATE
DEGREE

16

12.9%

14.3%

15%

(18)

(20)

(21)

Figure 3: What sort of journalistic training or experience have you had, if any? (n=144)64

SELF-DEFINED LABELS

more than half as see it as an expression of
active citizenship.

Interestingly, many publishers would not describe what
they do as journalism, even though much of their output
would seem to be highly journalistic in practice. In a postLeveson world, there remains a deep distrust - in some
quarters - of these labels.65 Instead, the survey revealed:




• Seven out of 10 producers identify their work as
a form of active community participation,
more than half define it as local journalism, and

56.7 per cent self-identify as producers of
local journalism, and 42.6 per cent as
citizen journalists. The two are not
necessarily mutually exclusive.

RECOMMENDATIONS
4.1




Repeating the Hyperlocal Practitioner Survey
every couple of years will enable us to
observe change in the sector over time.
This will include the media experience levels
of practitioners, subjects they cover, audience
reach, income levels and their specific needs.

4.2 This evidence base should subsequently
be used as the basis for determining the
most beneficial areas of on-going support
and intervention from funders and policy
makers.
4.3 The work of C4CJ shows the benefit of
providing on-going advice to (often lone)
publishers and offering a platform for
networking and discussion. The Centre
currently has 3,350 Twitter followers and 760
subscribers to its regular newsletter. This
should continue.

17

BUSINESS MODELS AND FUNDING
KEY POINTS
• There are a wide range of different
business and service models across the
sector. They are often unique to a given
locality and not necessarily replicable or
scalable.
• Publishers are embracing different income
sources to achieve sustainability; although
not everyone is doing this to make money.



GEOGRAPHIC COVERAGE

INCOME LEVELS

Just as audiences have very different perceptions66 of what
constitutes local, so hyperlocal publishers also define their
coverage locality in different ways.

Not all publishers are involved in hyperlocal to make
money, although some are. This finding from 2014’s
Hyperlocal Survey found that “not enough time available”
was the key barrier to expansion identified by publishers,
rather than “more money”. Eight out of ten had ambitions
to expand their site, but nearly three-quarters cited lack of
time as the principal barrier to growth.68

“This suggests that the phrase “hyperlocal news” might be
better understood as referring to an emergent generation
of community journalists, and perhaps their approaches
to news production, rather than their geographical space.”67

58.6%

There is a strong current of volunteerism,
but there is also a growing cohort of
entrepreneurs who work full-time in the
sector, often with little long-term job security.

(92)

VERY LOCAL - JUST
A FEW STREETS OR
VILLAGE BASED

15.9%
(25)

QUITE LOCAL TOWN OR
CITY SUBURB

BROADER
THAN LOCAL CITY BASED

MORE
REGIONAL COUNTY BASED

FURTHER
AFIELD

17.2%
(27)

5.7%
(9)

2.5%
(4)

Figure 4: In general, which of the below best describes the sort of geographic area your content covers? (n=157)

18

For those wanting to engage in hyperlocal media as
a full-time, or part-time job, there’s no doubt that
“making it pay” - in the form of grants, sponsorship or
advertising - can be an issue. The number of publishers
doing this full-time has grown, but “most community
journalists cannot devote the same level of human
resources to news production as their professional
counterparts.”

16.4%

Others, accounting for nearly two thirds of respondents
(63 per cent) reported that they pay all site associated
costs themselves. “Just one in six,” the survey found,
“make enough to return a profit, whether that is paid
to themselves or others, or reinvested in the site.”

I RAISE MONEY FROM
THE SITE BUT NOT
ENOUGH TO COVER
ALL THE COSTS

(28)

Reasons for this include financial stability, the longterm sustainability of their business model and the
lack of editorial and institutional support (e.g. legal,
technical, business development etc.) that larger
organisations enjoy as standard. These issues can lead
to a vicarious existence.
“Around a third of our participants make money,
mostly quite modest amounts: 12 per cent say they
make less than £100 per month, for instance, but
13 per cent say they generate more than £500 per
month.”

I PAY ALL THE COSTS
ASSOCIATED WITH
RUNNING MY WEBSITE
MYSELF

11.1%
(19)

62.6%
(107)

9.9%

I RAISE MONEY FROM
THE SITE WHICH
JUST ABOUT COVERS
THE COSTS
I RAISE MONEY FROM
THE SITE WHICH
MORE THAN COVERS
THE COSTS

(17)

Figure 5: Do you pay all the costs yourself, or do you raise money from the site to cover them, however small (excluding the
cost of your own time)? (n=171)

19

INCOME SOURCES

77%
(47)

Many hyperlocal publishers have become adept at
creating a diverse income base. This can include print
products, secondary consulting/training services and
digital advertising for their primary online output.
In the past year we’ve also seen examples of
successful crowdfunding efforts69 from both A Little
Bit of Stone and Brixton Blog and Bugle to help
cover staff costs.70 The Crowdfunder platform has,
to date, successfully supported seven UK hyperlocal
initiatives, raising just under £40,000.71
One of these, The Bristol Cable, raised £3,300 in
April 2014 and now receives around £300 every
month from regular membership contributions.72
It publishes a quarterly magazine with a printrun of 10,000, as well as online content.73 The
resilience of print as a hyperlocal platform
is noticeable, and a number of outlets have
deliberately included this in their publication
mix to attract digital-wary advertisers.74
The hyperlocal publisher survey only found a “small
sub-sample“generating income. Those who did
were asked about their sources; which were led by
advertising and publishers own money.

44.3%
(27)

ADVERTISING

31.1%

24.6%

24.6%

VOLUNTARY
DONATIONS

GRANT
FUNDING

(19)

MY OWN
MONEY

SPONSORED
FEATURES

(15)

(15)

27.9%
6.6%

(17)

(4)

SUBSCRIPTIONS

OTHER

Figure 6: Which of the following are sources of funding for your hyperlocal site? (n=61)

INCOME POTENTIAL
In 2013 Nesta published detailed insights, produced by Oliver and
Ohlbaum,75 into the UK’s hyperlocal advertising market. Prior to
this there had been no independent assessment of the potential
for the sector to attract sufficient revenues to grow and expand.
Nesta reported that “advertisers who are most likely to be interested
in hyperlocal advertising are those who serve a small geographic
catchment area.”76 However they also found that:

“The research we have published does not provide
heartening reading for hyperlocal media services.
It suggests that big brands will place their ads on
location-based platforms rather than spend money
with geographically-specific services. Facebook and
Google are much more likely to collect advertising
spend by providing content relevant to your
location than, say, a blog about Birmingham.”77
They also asked small, local, businesses across the
UK if they advertised with local hyperlocal publishers.

20

Responses revealed that although some do, these
numbers were unlikely to increase significantly.
Any potential increase was likely to be instead of using
current local advertising channels (e.g. directories,
search, social networks or local papers) rather than
supplementary spending, or through the identification of
a new - as yet untapped - class of local advertiser.

THE FINANCIAL FUTURE
Nesta’s research, lessons learned at C4CJ, and the work of
the Carnegie UK Trust in working directly with publishers,
suggests that for the majority of hyperlocal publishers
some sort of public financial intervention will be needed
to help sustain - and potentially grow - the sector.
This may come from, as yet unexplored, sources of
income, or areas where precedents for intervention
already exist. This could include:



Usage of unallocated funds set aside for local
digital television programme services (L-DTPS),
from who the BBC can buy and publish/
broadcast content.

• Fair access to local government and NHS

advertising budgets, including for health
campaigns and statutory notices.



Partnerships with other local organisations
- such as the Tinder Foundation and Digital
Unite - who have an interest in community and
capacity building.

• Contestable funding, innovation prizes, a
one-off contribution from Google and/or other
intermediaries or industry levies.78
These approaches merit consideration given the
continued precarious nature of most hyperlocal sites,
including those that have been established for a longtime. Addressing this is important for the long-term
sustainability of the sector as well as ensuring that old,
experienced, hands – as well as new entrants – are all
able to make hyperlocal a commercially viable reality;
should they wish to do so.

RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1


Successful business models need to be
further analysed so that the lessons learned
from these case studies can inspire, and
inform, entrepreneurs and other publishers.

5.2


The financial value of the sector - in terms
of hyperlocal advertising and volunteer time
- is currently unknown. This would be
valuable to understand and monitor over time.

5.3 There is a need for ongoing financial support
to help fund the sector, using new – or tried
and tested – interventions. This could aid
salaries, overheads, training and other critical
needs such as indemnity insurance and legal
support.

21

TACKLING THE DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT
KEY POINTS
• Hyperlocal media helps to hold local bodies to
account. They do this through covering political
issues, campaigns and investigative reporting.
• The advent of bottom-up hyperlocal services
may help to offset job losses and content gaps
from traditional media.



Hyperlocal sites can encourage participation
from audiences who otherwise might feel
disenfranchised from the political process or
previously disengaged.

The media plays a vital role in holding political bodies
to account and encouraging an informed citizenry.
This function is especially important at a time of cuts to
services, the continued devolution of powers at a national
and city/local level, and important debates such as the in/
out EU referendum.

Yet, the majority of citizens are increasingly disengaged
with the political process. Although there are exceptions
- such as the Scottish Referendum for independence in
2014 – voter turnout since 2001 has consistently been
below previous levels.79 This is matched by reduced
numbers of political party memberships80 and the public
continuing to hold politicians in low esteem.81

PROVIDING A NEW TIER OF
LOCAL REPORTING
Hyperlocal media can address some of these local
reporting needs “at a time when traditional local media
providers continue to find themselves under financial
pressure”.82
Of course hyperlocal publishers also find themselves
under pressure, often financially and in turns of time.
But they can, nonetheless, provide valuable content and
engage audiences who are not your typical local media
consumer. Of The Lincolnite’s audience, for example, 40
per cent are under 30 years old83 and the site has 70,000
followers on social media in an area of 100,000 people.

Sometimes the lines between this reporting and
campaigning can become a little blurred. But this
combination has often been necessary in order to engage
audiences with important local issues. Sites like Broughton
Spurtle in North Edinburgh, through their more localised
output, have sought “to stir the neighbourhood up a
little bit, to try and get people interested and proactive
about issues such as politics, planning and the local
environment.”84

REMOVING BARRIERS TO
PARTICIPATION
Media analyst Claire Enders told the Leveson Inquiry that
40 per cent of jobs in the UK regional press have gone
over a five year period85 and these losses continue on
a regular basis.86 This results in citizens having reduced
access to local information and diminished accountability
mechanisms.
Ofcom’s Internet Citizens Report 2014 found that 12 per
cent of online users have contacted their local Councillor

22

or MP, with only 3 per cent doing so on a quarterly
basis.87
This suggests that intermediaries continue to matter.
Hyperlocal publishers can help remove barriers to
participation and engaging audiences where they already
are; through the use of embedded widgets such as
FixMyStreet, alongside the opportunity to put questions
to your local councillor.
“We keep a rolling survey of our users at
FixMyStreet, and consistently, over 50% say that
they’ve never contacted their council before –
so FixMyStreet is opening new channels, and
empowering people.”88
On Facebook the Port Talbot Magnet provides a space
where locals can create and publish their own news, as
well as content produced by the PTM team. “The result is
a more organic participatory shaping of the community’s
news ecology from the bottom up, rather than one
dominated by individual professional journalists and
traditional one-to-many modes of publication.”89

2015 GENERAL AND LOCAL ELECTIONS
The potential of hyperlocal media90 was evident during the 2015
general election.91 Trinity-Mirror’s David Higgerson, writing on
his personal blog, provided an excellent round-up of examples
of hyperlocal election coverage.92 This included:







A Little Bit of Stone’s candidate interviews for
the local elections
Wrexham.com’s round-up of coverage from
other media outlets in their area.
Bournville Village opting for a detailed Q and A
format among candidates,
Audioboom interviews with candidates on The
Edinburgh Reporter,

Other examples of General Election coverage from
hyperlocal publishers included:





Live coverage of the count from Newport, Isle
of Wight
Creation of a dedicated election hub by
Tongwynlais for Cardiff North; and
Live tweeting from hustings and details of
where to vote (Kings Cross Environment)

Perhaps the most high profile event during this period
was a partnership between The Lincolnite and BBC

Radio Lincolnshire and The Lincolnshire Echo.
This resulted in The Lincoln Debate,93 in which
all of the 2015 General Election parliamentary
candidates for Lincoln participated. The event was
streamed live on The Lincolnite and Lincolnshire
Echo websites; local radio; and online on BBC
Radio Lincolnshire, uploaded to YouTube94 and
linked to in online columns and analysis.

PLURALITY OF VOICES
Outside of these election periods both mainstream
and hyperlocal media tend to provide reduced
coverage to a range of different voices. Mainstream
local news increasingly relies more on official
sources and PR as a result of their being fewer
journalists on the ground.95
Some hyperlocal outlets have a good relationship
with local Councils. Others often by-pass them in the
story process as they feel that Council press offices
are increasingly just PR machines.
“When asked whether he balances his critical
coverage of Tower Hamlets Council with quotes
from relevant officers he (Mark Baynes of Love
Wapping) told us:

23

I don’t see why I should, as a resident, ring the town
hall up or anybody else … Because I know all they’re
going to give me is the usual bullshit. So what’s the
point? And they’ve got a huge media machine … I
don’t see, to be quite honest, why any hyperlocal
should. Because if you look at it in the broader
context of media and communications in our society:
if Tower Hamlets wants to get on TV, they can get on
TV. They can send a press release to the East London
Advertiser [the local weekly newspaper] … and they
literally print the press release.”96

RECOMMENDATIONS

Improving relationships between hyperlocal publishers
and local authorities may help address concerns about
the declining number of sources used in local media,
although neither party is necessary clamouring for any
change in dynamic. This may mean that these types
of concerns are more academic and theoretical, rather
than a reflection of the continuing day-to-day reality
for publishers and public bodies alike.

6.2


Hyperlocal outlets should be further included
in academic analysis of local media content
(e.g. plurality of voice, original reporting,
number of sources spoken to etc.)

6.3


Case studies showcasing the work produced
by hyperlocals during the 2015 election
period would better inform practitioners and
policymakers about the value of this output.

6.1 The loss of traditional media, particularly
newspapers, may impact voter turnout and
political engagement. More research needs
to be undertaken in this area,97 to see if there
is a direct link between media not spots and
turnout and what difference hyperlocal can/
cannot make.

6.4 The sector could benefit from the creation of
more plugins like the FixMyStreet widget,
which they can deploy directly on their site.

24

MEDIA PLURALITY
KEY POINTS:

democratic society by ensuring citizens are informed by a diverse
range of views and by preventing too much influence over political
processes by one media owner or outlet.”101

• Plurality of voice matters at a local - as well as
national - level.

The regulator also states “the availability, consumption and impact
of news media are all relevant measures of plurality,” concluding
that “consumption measures, such as volume, reach and how
consumers multi-source news, are the most important.”




Hyperlocal publishers contribute to media
plurality by providing secondary - and
sometimes - the only voice in the reporting of
local issues.




Plurality matters to audiences. Ofcom identified
in 2009 that 92 per cent of adults consume local
media, with 88 per cent using multiple sources
for local news and information.

POLICY CONTEXT
In June 2012 Ofcom published their first report on
measuring media plurality,98 followed by further
supplementary advice in October 201299 and a proposed
measurement framework for media plurality in March
2015.100 This work derived from formal requests by the
Secretary of State (Culture, Media and Sport) to explore
these issues.
As Ofcom notes: ”Media plurality helps to support a

Ofcom’s media plurality work has covered both online and
offline media, given the role that digital channels play in news
consumption. 90 per cent of the UK’s adult population is online;
and research from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism
has reported that 70 per cent of the UK’s online population
consumes news from online sources on a weekly basis.102

LOCAL AND HYPERLOCAL CONTEXT
Although much discussion of media plurality focusses on
UK-wide media, its sentiments are equally applicable to the
devolved nations as well as the local and hyperlocal news arena.
Ofcom - with a predominant focus on media plurality
through an ownership - has suggested “for local areas
(below the level of a nation), we believe the issues facing
local media are more about sustainability than plurality.”103
However, a number of advocates for the hyperlocal and
local media sector take a different view, arguing this

approach may result in vital local issues going
unreported.
“...It is at the local level that the vast majority
of citizens interact with hospitals, schools,
transport systems, the police and elected council
representatives,” a recent University of Westminster
project exploring Media Power & Plurality has noted.104
“And yet, the direction of travel at local level
– towards greater consolidation of media
enterprises, relaxation of ownership regimes,
lack of support for small media initiatives – has
arguably been more severe and more debilitating
for democracy than at national level.”
Plurality issues at a local level are inextricably linked
with concerns around the democratic deficit, a reality
acknowledged in a 2014 report, “Addressing the
Democratic Deficit in Local News through Positive
Plurality” from the Media Standards Trust.105
Local newspapers, they said, were “increasingly unable
to perform the role we expect of our Fourth Estate at a
local level”106 and this gap is not being filled by armchair
auditors (as the Government had hoped)107 or the UK’s new
local digital television sector. With the right support, they
felt, “hyperlocal sites may become central to maintaining
the accountability of public authorities in the future.”

25

It’s a view shared by UCL’s Judith Townend, who has argued:
“...both the current activities and aspirations of most
hyperlocal sites suggests a potentially major role in
compensating for the decline of traditional local media
and making a genuine contribution to local plurality, by
providing local knowledge, holding local elites accountable
and helping local people lobby for change.”108

NEW ENTRANTS,
PERSPECTIVES AND VOICES
The relatively low cost manner in which hyperlocal
content can be published has helped to democratise
media creation. Anyone can create a Tumblr, Facebook,
WordPress or Twitter feed which tackles local issues and
provides local news and information.
This enables communities without independent online
media such as Turriff in Scotland,109 or where traditional
media has exited an area - as in Port Talbot110 - to
have a voice.
In turn, these low barriers to entry can encourage
different voices and communities to be involved
in news creation. It is no longer the preserve of
trained journalists, local elites or existing media
companies. Groups underrepresented in the

media industry such as BMEs, people with
disabilities or older demographics, can
all benefit from this democratisation. The
progression route hyperlocal can provide
to mainstream media may also help tackle
diversity in the wider industry too.111

A FRESH APPROACH
To fully unlock the democratic and human capital
potential afforded by UK hyperlocal media will,
however, require a different attitude to plurality
issues. As the Media Standards Trust has noted:

“Plurality in news and information is generally
discussed in negative terms. In other words,
policymakers tend to think about how to reduce or
break up media monopolies or oligopolies.Positive
plurality, in the sense of encouraging new entrants
and helping smaller players to grow, is far less often
discussed.” 112
Yet, as Ofcom has acknowledged, any measurement framework
for media plurality needs to consider both “defensive measures
which prevent actions taking place that would reduce media
plurality… and mechanisms to promote media plurality…”
Positive plurality, in this sense, can be derived at by ensuring

that hyperlocal outlets can access competitive funding
pots - such as the local TV subsidy - as well as technical
support from Facebook, Google and other technological
gatekeepers.
To do this, as the Carnegie UK Trust has said,113 Ofcom’s
assessment of the media market must include hyperlocal
outlets in their analysis of media availability, consumption,
and impact. Ofcom’s own research has consistently shown
there is a small, but growing audience for these local news
and information channels. Overlooking this audience in
any assessment framework therefore risks providing an
incomplete picture and further reducing sector visibility.

RECOMMENDATIONS
7.1 Media plurality needs to be mapped at a
local, as well as regional and national level to
ensure diversity of voice and ownership.
7.2 Given the popularity of hyperlocal services
we encourage Ofcom to include these in any
media plurality framework.
7.3 Funding may be needed to encourage new
voices and market entrants in order to preserve,
or facilitate greater plurality at a local level.

26

DISCOVERABILITY
KEY POINTS
• Awareness of hyperlocal services can be low,
particularly if services are online only.
• Publishers can use print, campaigns and live
reporting to raise their profile.
• Partnerships with traditional media - such as the
BBC or local press - can help.

Discoverability has long been an issue for the UK’s
hyperlocal media sector.114 Yet evidence suggests
that some audience members are regular hyperlocal
consumers. A key challenge for hyperlocal publishers is
therefore to increase consciousness of their offering.

THE IMPORTANCE OF
DIGITAL VISIBILITY
Search engines and social networks are increasingly the
gatekeepers to online material. As a result, all publishers
need to understand the algorithms that drive these
content discovery systems. This is essential to ensuring
your content is visible and highly ranked in search results.
For hyperlocal publishers the geo-tagging of content is
also becoming increasingly important.115
Major media companies have dedicated teams to focus
on search engine optimisation (SEO), audience analysis
and big data, as well as changes implemented by major
platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. In
contrast, hyperlocal publishers do not enjoy the same
levels of technical or human resources. Subsequently, they
risk being left behind.
A 2013 report commissioned by Nesta, and produced by
Mavens of London, identified the critical importance of
appropriate SEO if audiences are to find hyperlocal content.
Their analysis also highlighted how national platforms tend
to dominate search results ahead of local publishers.116

AN UNDER-APPRECIATED SKILLSET
Arguably many hyperlocal outlets underestimate the
importance of these digital skills and the role that they
can play in bringing wider audiences to their content.
“Need more technical skills” was ranked fifth, out of eight
potential options, in a 2014 survey of practitioners, where
publishers were asked “What do you feel is preventing
you from expanding your hyperlocal site?”
Technical skills - which could include a myriad of other
abilities such as filming, video editing, or coding - was
identified by just 28.3 per cent of respondents as a barrier
to progress, behind “more time,” “more volunteers,”
money or sales support.117

GOING BACK TO PRINT
One method deployed by some hyperlocal outlets to
increase their visibility with audiences is through the
creation of their own print publications. This has been a
recurring hyperlocal trend.118
Examples include “print-first” titles such as Filton Voice119
and others like HU17.net120 and Hackney Citizen121 who

27

have found that a good print product can attract new
advertisers, reach audiences who are not online, and
facilitate a different route to their digital channels.
The Carnegie UK Trust’s funding for a printed version
of the Port Talbot MagNet, for example, meant that
hyperlocal news - in an area with a lower than average
take up of internet compared with the rest of Wales could be accessed by everyone.122

PARTNERSHIPS WITH
TRADITIONAL MEDIA
Few hyperlocal services enjoy content sharing
relationships with larger media organisations. There are
exceptions, such as the Birmingham Mail’s Communities
initiative,123 and an informal arrangement between Hedon
Blog and the Hull Daily Mail124 (Hedon Blog’s founder,
Ray Duffill, also acts as the Hedon correspondent for the
weekly Holderness Gazette), but these are in a minority.
Interestingly, a number of these partnerships –
such as the relationship between Archant and
EverythingEppingForest,125 or that between The City
Talking and the Yorkshire Evening Post, involve the
distribution of a print product.126

Arguably, partnerships are an area where the BBC can
help to take the lead. Nesta has consistently called on
the BBC to link from its websites to a broader range of
hyperlocal media organisations;127 More recently they
have worked with the Carnegie UK Trust and others128 to
support the BBC in the Corporation’s efforts to improve
linking to external local news stories.129
The BBC’s current consultation “to formalise its
commitment to ‘hyperlocal’ bloggers and community
news providers online” is a welcome development; as
are their plans to establish a twice yearly Hyperlocal
Forum, as part of wider efforts to “ensure their
[hyperlocals] strongest stories can be showcased on the
BBC website.”130

RECOMMENDATIONS
8.1



Tech companies can support the sector by
helping make hyperlocal content more
discoverable through the provision of training
(e.g. SEO and geo-tagging) and by modifications
to their content discovery algorithms.

8.2


Hyperlocal publishers may underestimate
their technical training needs. Training from
tech companies and others in this arena could,
therefore, be particularly beneficial.

8.3


Commercial media players can partner with
hyperlocal publishers; thereby improving
coverage of ultra-local communities or areas
that are not commercially viable to cover.

8.4 The BBC can more actively link to hyperlocal
content and purchase material from the sector
- using a principle established by the License
Fee supported fund for Local TV operators.
8.5


The BBC could also open its archive to hyperlocal
publishers. Unlike many of their commercial
rivals, who seek to monetise these assets, the
BBC is unlikely to monetise old local content.

28

COMMUNITY IMPACT
KEY POINTS
• Many hyperlocal services have delivered
campaigns that meet local needs.
• Sites contribute to active communities and the
creation of social capital. Their content has civic
as well as news and democratic value.




Local media plays an important role
in community identity. The absence and
disappearance of local papers can negatively
impact on this. In some cases gaps are filled by
hyperlocal outlets.

The work of hyperlocal publishers can have a
discernible contribution to an area; going beyond
news reporting to have a social impact that positively
affects local communities. Hyperlocal media also has
an emotional function, helping to root people in a
community and reflecting a sense of place.132

CAMPAIGNS
The most obvious example of the local impact
delivered by hyperlocal publishers is through
campaigns. Kings Cross Environment has tackled
noise pollution from the Cemex concrete
plant,133 while the ‘Hedon Pong’134 campaign, saw
Yorkshire Water invest £3.5m in odour control and
provide compensation in the form of a £50,000
community grants fund135 as a result of Hedon
Blog’s efforts.

BUILDING ACTIVE COMMUNITIES
Alongside more formal campaigns, hyperlocal sites also provide
opportunities for communities to come together to discuss
important local issues and to share information. The value of
this is especially evident in the on-going success of forums.

A 2014 survey of practitioners revealed a third of
hyperlocal publishers have run local campaigns that
champion community needs.136 Many more have
covered other people’s campaigns.
These activities can make a substantial difference in the
visibility of a hyperlocal outlet. Tipping points for raising
awareness can include local campaigns such as Brixton
Blog’s successful effort to Save the Lambeth Country
Show,137 or the investigative journalism manifest in The
Bristol Cable’s analysis of the University of Bristol’s “ethical
investment” policy138 and other exclusives.139

Although a hangover from Web 1.0, these platforms - such
as East Dulwich Forum or Sheffield Forum140 - remain
remarkably resilient providing a simple, but effective, means
for netizens to discuss local news and share tips and local
recommendations with one another. Since 2002, 180,000
people have produced nearly 7.6 million posts, on more
than half a million topics, on the Sheffield Forum.
Other opportunities to promote engagement include
using tools such as the FixMyStreet app. Produced by
MySociety, this widget can be embedded on a website
so that hyperlocal audiences can report local problems
including graffiti, fly tipping, broken paving slabs, or
street lighting.
“An ongoing internal survey of our users
consistently shows that over 50 per cent have
never contacted their local council before,” My
Society reports.141

29

REFLECTING CULTURAL IDENTITY

INSTILLING CIVIC PRIDE

Just as local newspapers have historically acted as a
record of local life, so hyperlocal websites are also
providing a valuable everyday snapshot of everyday life.
In recognition of this, the British Library is creating an
archive142 of online hyperlocal content, which will provide
a digital record for the nation.

Hyperlocal websites such as Kings Cross Environment and
the erstwhile More Canals than Venice146 have purposely
set out to change perceptions about the beats that they
cover.

This archive will include local news, as well as other
hyperlocal efforts that tell the story of the people and
places across the UK. This includes the daily stories
produced by Spitalfields Life143 and the “Voices from the
Motherland” strand144 on Digbeth is Good, both of which
offer us an in-depth cultural insight into the rich tapestry
of their respective communities.
Hyperlocal services also shine a light on geographic areas
– such as the village of Parwich in Derbyshire through to
communities such as Port Talbot145 in Wales which have
been deserted, or are too small to cover, by mainstream
media. Their presence can be instrumental in helping
communities to understand what’s happening in their area,
as well as giving people a sense of pride in their locality.

Perhaps the best manifestation of this ambition was found
in the memorably named Birmingham: It’s Not Shit, which
spent over a decade covering the UK’s oft maligned
second city.147 Similarly, Stoke’s Pits ‘n’ Pots, showed there
was more to the city than a failing local government.
Meanwhile, after terrorism ‘expert’ Steven Emerson told
Fox News viewers earlier this year that Birmingham is
“entirely Muslim” and that non-Muslims don’t go into the
city, Birmingham Updates encouraged him to apologise
and to make a donation to Birmingham Children’s
Hospital; which Mr Emerson duly did.148 His apology,
posted by the site, has been retweeted 1,189 times.149
Local media plays an important role in helping to
forge and reflect local identity. The loss, therefore, of
local newspapers150 can have a noticeable effect on a
community.151 By the same token, the community benefits
of hyperlocal websites include: “Information sharing,
neighbourly relations, collective efficacy, social inclusion
and diversity, belonging and attachment.”152

RECOMMENDATIONS
9.1 Research is needed to evaluate the financial
value of social capital created by hyperlocal.
9.2 These types of case studies would also
benefit from wider distribution.
9.3





This impact should be tracked and reported
to show the long-term impact. Such
measurement is especially important if
there’s increased intervention in the sector,
bringing it in line with research into public
funding for the Arts, or the impact of
National Lottery good causes.

30

CHALLENGES FOR THE FUTURE
KEY POINTS

• Hyperlocal publishers are often unable to access
funds or non-financial resources that other local
media outlets can. This needs to be addressed.



Publishers need to be equipped with the skills to
prosper in the current internet age. This includes
SEO, audience analysis and provision of video
and mobile tailored content.

• The impact of the current - and proposed regulatory framework on hyperlocals is
confusing and needs urgent clarification.



Hyperlocal publishers need to be able to share
learning and innovation and have a way of
organising collective representation and voice
to unlock opportunities and tackle barriers.

Some of the challenges facing the future and sustainability
of the hyperlocal sector in the UK are well known. These
include many of the issues already touched in this paper,
such as funding, discoverability and the importance of
partnerships with larger media providers. However, there
are also emerging areas that also require consideration by
publishers, policy makers and researchers.

SECURING THE FINANCIAL FUTURE

COLLECTIVE VOICE

“Making it pay” remains the biggest challenge for most
publishers. Not everyone is interested in commercialising
their approach, but those who are will often find this an
uphill struggle.

Unlike other sectors such as newspapers or commercial radio,
this emerging sector does not have a trade body in the UK.

In markets such as the USA grant funding has helped to ensure
a greater level of sustainability for some publishers. It has also
inspired new approaches, business models and technologies.
Blending sustainability, with mechanisms to drive innovation,
would bring multiple benefits to the UK sector.

ACCESS TO LOCAL MEDIA FUNDING
Hyperlocal publishers could benefit from access to
unallocated funds set aside for L-DTPS153 as well as efforts to
reform the publication of statutory notices.154 Both of these
endeavours have established the precedent for innovation
and a fresh approach. Involving hyperlocal media in this mix
could provide tangible financial benefits to the sector.
As the Media Standards Trust notes: “Though no aggregate
figures are available it has been estimated that this [statutory
notices in local newspapers on traffic, planning, alcohol
licensing etc] equates to £45 million to £50 million a year.“155
Meanwhile financial support for the UK’s new Local TV
network is £40 million for the first three years.156

“As the hyperlocal industry continues to grow and
mature, it may find it beneficial to have a body
which can provide publishers with a voice, and which
can lead on work with government, policy makers
and regulators.
“Given the ‘cottage industry’ nature of hyperlocal
media – with many practitioners working in silos
– this body could also help share best practice and
promote cross-sector debate and discussion…
“Funding such a body will probably not be easy, but
the potential merits of such an organisation mean
the idea is worth exploring. Having a more cohesive,
unified, voice may be needed if hyperlocal media is
to move to the next level.” 157
Some steps have been made in this space, with groups coming
together to response to Ofcom consultations and a joint
letter to the new Secretary of State, but these efforts remain
embryonic. Further analysis of efforts such as LION Publishers,
a US association of Local Independent Online News Publishers,
could also yield useful insights158 that the UK can benefit from.

31

ACCESS TO LOCAL POLITICAL
EVENTS AND DISCUSSIONS
The last UK Government made a number of statements
about opening up Council meetings in England to
hyperlocal publishers and citizen reporters.159 These
moves - along with efforts to close “Town Hall Pravdas”160 appeared genuine, but the reality on the ground has often
been more challenging.161 No such initiatives have been
introduced in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Despite the great local reporting undertaken by many
hyperlocal outlets - including coverage of Council or
planning meetings, election counts and hustings - access
and accreditation can still be a challenge. Hyperlocal
reporters are often the only media present at some of these
events. As a result, support from policy makers and the NUJ
in promoting equal access would be welcome.

TO REGULATE, OR NOT TO REGULATE
The new, post-Leveson regulatory world is a potentially
complicated one for hyperlocals.162 But it’s also an area
that they need to engage with, given changes in the libel
laws later this year which David Wolfe, chair of the Press
Recognition Panel (PRP), has said will make it “even easier”
for people to take news publishers to court.163
It’s a complex arena, with C4CJ and others, seeking to get
to grips with the implications of forthcoming legal and
regulatory changes, who they will affect, the problems that

might raise, as well as the potential benefits available to
publishers as a result of joining a regulator.164
Key issues to consider include: determining if you are a
“relevant publisher”165 understanding the possible protections
afforded by The Crime and Courts Act 2013 - such as the
independent arbitration of complaints which previously may
have ended up in court - and deciding whether to “opt-in”
and join a regulatory body, even if you are potentially exempt.
Although it looks as though there may be benefits to
publishers from this new regime, the regulatory burden
- in terms of expense and time - may be off-putting for
both existing publishers and those interested in setting up
their own site.166 As a result, more work urgently needs to
be done to provide clarity and awareness in the coming
months around this vitally important issue.

GATEKEEPERS
Increasingly access to content is being controlled by
a number of major technological gatekeepers; such
as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple. There are
concerns about the implications of this for journalism167 and
advertising revenues, particularly at a local level.
Nesta’s research has already shown the frequent
dominance of national platforms as a source of local
advertising168 while the Media Standards Trust has talked of
a “closing window of opportunity” for “intervention in local
news and civic technology”. This is because “transnational
new media behemoths are quickly colonising the space.”169

As Nesta notes, the biggest risk in this arena is “that
advertising revenues which flow to them are leaving the UK’s
content economy, reducing the sums available for investing in
hyperlocal news and other socially valuable services.”170
The potential impact of this could be detrimental to both
consumers and content creators alike.

RECOMMENDATIONS
10.1


The opportunity to sell credited content to
bbc.co.uk would potentially be a huge boon
using a principle for buying local content
which has already been established.171

10.2 Access to even a small percentage of the £45
million to £50 million a year spent on statutory
public notices172 could also have a
demonstrable impact.
10.3



Clarity is needed from politicians and regulators,
alongside a clear communications plan, to
enable hyperlocal publishers to understand the
new press regulation regime and how it
impacts on them.

10.4 NUJ accreditation and recognition would
boost the standing of the sector and provide
much needed support to independent local
news publishers.

32

CONCLUDING REMARKS
Since 2012 we have seen a stepchange in the empirical evidence
base for UK hyperlocal media.
Research by academic institutions,
NGOs and regulators, have all
deepened our understanding about
the audiences, content and business
models found across this sector.
As a result, we have the strongest indication yet of the
civic and public value UK hyperlocal media creates in
undertaking a range of journalistic and community
outputs; from holding authority to account, through to
running campaigns and reporting on local events.
However, despite this increased recognition and
understanding, the core issues that challenge the ongoing success of UK hyperlocal media remain unchanged.
These issues include:

● Sustainability - both financial and personnel
● Funding
● Discoverability
● Access to non-financial resources and services
● Recognition by traditional media, politicians and
regulators
There has been progress in all of these areas in the past three
years. But, this progress has not been sufficient to provide the
sector with any degree of long-term certainty. For too many
providers their existence remains hand-to-mouth and this has
an inevitable impact on both sustainability and the appeal of
the sector to new entrants.
Unlike other media groups, hyperlocal publishers do not
belong to a trade body, and they do not have ready access
to politicians to help make their case. As a result, their
contribution to UK journalism173 and our local communities
can be easily overlooked.
This report has analysed the current evidence base and
identified opportunities and challenges for the future of
hyperlocal media and community journalism in the UK.
In doing this, we have sought to show their impact and to
demonstrate what we know about the sector. We believe
that this shows a vibrant sector that delivers public value
to society.

But if the UK’s hyperlocal media industry is
to grow it is likely to need help. At a time of
continued pressures on traditional media and
media plurality, and increased devolution of
political powers at a national, regional and local
level, the need for hyperlocal media is greater
than ever.
It’s time for politicians, policy makers and
public media players to give them a helping
hand. The value derived from this activity
could benefit everyone. What happens next is
up to you.

33

SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS
NO.

RECOMMENDATIONS

RESEARCHERS
/ACADEMICS

POLICY
MAKERS

HYPERLOCAL
PUBLISHERS

1.1
1.2
1.3
1.4

Regular monitoring of size and scale of sector; including incentives for publishers to self-register.
Regular census of sites – including the frequency and types of content they produce.
Ofcom to continue charting usage of hyperlocal and community media, alongside traditional media.
New mindset, or approach, to intervention to avoid investment falling further behind other markets.


2.1
2.2
2.3

Re-run 2012 content analysis, using the revised Weblist database, to observe potential changes.
Share more widely case studies captured by C4CJ, the Carnegie UK Trust and others.
Identify the societal impact of campaigns to demonstrate the role of this sector at a grassroots level.




3.1
3.2
3.3

Publishers may benefit from focusing more social media activity on Facebook.
Analysis of the total size of the UK hyperlocal market (no of publishers, income + audience) for 500+ websites to show collective reach, income etc.
Tailored tools and training to enable publishers to benefit from trends in mobile, social and video.

4.1
4.2
4.3

Repeat the Hyperlocal Practitioner Survey every couple of years to observe change over time; including media experience levels of practitioners, subjects they cover, audience reach, income etc.
This evidence base should be used as the basis for determining the most beneficial areas of on-going support and intervention from funders and policy makers.
The work of C4CJ should continue as it shows the benefit of providing on-going advice to publishers and offering a platform for networking and discussion.

5.1
5.2
5.3

Successful business models need to be further analysed to inspire and inform others.
The financial value of the sector - in terms of hyperlocal advertising and volunteer time - is unknown. This would be valuable to understand and monitor.
There is a need for ongoing financial support to help fund the sector, using new – or tried and tested – interventions to provide support for salaries, overheads, training and other critical needs.




6.1
6.2
6.3
6.4

The loss of traditional media may impact voter turnout and political engagement. Research if there is a direct link between media not spots and turnout and what difference hyperlocal can/cannot make.
Hyperlocal included in academic analysis of local media content (e.g. plurality of voice, original reporting, number of sources etc.)
Case studies showcasing the work produced by hyperlocals during the 2015 election period would better inform practitioners and policymakers about the value of this output.
Creation of more plugins like the FixMyStreet widget, which hyperlocals can deploy on their site.



7.1
7.2
7.3

Media plurality needs to be mapped at a local, as well as regional and national level to ensure diversity of voice and ownership.
We encourage Ofcom to include hyperlocal services in any media plurality framework.
Funding may be needed to encourage new voices and market entrants to preserve, or facilitate greater plurality at a local level.



8.1
8.2
8.3
8.4
8.5

Tech companies can support the sector by making hyperlocal content more discoverable through training (e.g. SEO and geo-tagging) and by modifications to their content discovery algorithms.
Hyperlocal publishers may underestimate their technical training needs. Training from tech companies and others in this arena could, therefore, be particularly beneficial.
Commercial media players can partner with hyperlocal publishers; improving coverage of ultra-local communities or areas that are not commercially viable to cover.
The BBC can more actively link to hyperlocal content and purchase material from the sector - using a principle established by the License Fee supported fund for Local TV operators.
The BBC could open its archive to hyperlocal publishers. Unlike many of their commercial rivals, who seek to monetise these assets, the BBC is unlikely to monetise old local content.

9.1
9.2
9.3

Research is needed to evaluate the financial value of social capital created by hyperlocal.
These types of case studies would also benefit from wider distribution.
This impact should be tracked and reported over time to show the long-term impact. This is especially important if there’s increased intervention in the sector, and is in line with research
into public funding for the Arts, or the impact of National Lottery good causes.

10.1
10.2
10.3
10.4

The opportunity to sell, credited, content to bbc.co.uk would potentially be a huge boon using a principle for buying local content which has already been established.
Access to even a small percentage of the £45 million to £50 million a year spent on statutory public notices could have a demonstrable impact.
Clarity is needed from politicians and regulators, alongside a clear communications plan, to enable hyperlocal publishers to understand the new press regulation regime and how it impacts on them.
NUJ accreditation and recognition would boost the standing of the sector and provide much needed support to independent local news publishers.

INDUSTRY





















34

ENDNOTES
1.

http://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/here-and-now-uk-hyperlocal-media-today

community news: findings from a survey of practitioners. 2014. Available at: https://hyperlocalsurvey.

57. The Carnegie UK Trust notes this is the biggest challenge for MyTurriff, for example, in their

2.

Radcliffe, Damian. Here and Now: UK hyperlocal media today. Nesta, 2012.

wordpress.com/

Available at: https://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/here_and_now_uk_hyperlocal_media_today.pdf

32. Moore, Martin. Addressing the Decmocratic Deficit in Local News through Positive Plurality. Media

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3.

http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/regional-daily-newspaper-abcs-second-half-2014-paid-titles-lose-

Standards Trust, 2014. Available at: http://mediastandardstrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/

average-10-cent-circulations-year

Positive-Plurality-policy-paper-9-10-14.pdf

59. http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/service-provider/visual-networking-index-vni/

forthcoming report on hyperlocal case studies.
news-site-to-get-facebook/

4.

https://www.nuj.org.uk/news/roll-call-of-newspaper-closures-and-job-losses/

33. http://www.carnegieuktrust.org.uk/blog/april-2015/guest-blog--10-ways-hyperlocal-media-is-contributi

5.

“The ‘Future of News’ report, commissioned by BBC Head of News James Harding, claims 5,000 jobs

34. Williams, Andy, Dave Harte, and Jerome Turner. “The Value of UK Hyperlocal Community News:

60. http://www.yourthurrock.com/

white_paper_c11-520862.html

have been axed across the regional press in the past decade.” http://www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk/2015/

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61. https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/community-journalism

news/bbc-to-do-more-amid-regional-press-decline/

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62. http://onlinejournalismblog.com/2014/08/28/hyperlocal-voices-geraldine-durrant-east-grinstead-online/

6.

http://www.echonews.org.uk/

965932#.VbUlZPlVhBc

63. http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/news/view/85092-community-journalism-mooc-reaches-10,000-learners-

7.

https://www.facebook.com/RememberOldCardiff

35. http://www.communityjournalism.co.uk/research/the-value-of-hyperlocal-news-content/

8.

http://www.hackneyhear.com/

36. Barnett, Steven, and Judith Townend. “Plurality, Policy and the Local: Can hyperlocals fill

64. https://hyperlocalsurvey.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/figurec.png

9.

http://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/here-and-now-uk-hyperlocal-media-today

milestone

the gap?.” Journalism Practice 9.3 (2015): 332-349. Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/

65. https://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3504/Politicians-trusted-less-than-

10. Active’ was defined by researcher Dave Harte “as a website having posted a news story at least once

abs/10.1080/17512786.2014.943930?journalCode=rjop20#.Vdo87LJVhBc

37. https://hyperlocalsurvey.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/figure-e.png?w=594&h=371

66. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/tv-research/lrmuk.pdf

in the 5 months prior to the sampling date or functioned as an active forum-only or wiki-based

estate-agents-bankers-and-journalists.aspx

website.” http://daveharte.com/research/hyperlocal-news-websites-some-2014-stats/#more-1914

38. https://hyperlocalsurvey.wordpress.com/#WhatKindofNews

67. https://hyperlocalsurvey.wordpress.com/#audiences

11. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/telecoms-research/Internet_Citizens_Report_14.pdf

39. https://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/uk_demand_for_hyperlocal_media.pdf

68. http://www.communityjournalism.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Hyperlocal-Community-News-

12. http://localweblist.net/how-to-approach-white-spaces-in-the-hyperlocal-map-wakefield-experiment/

40. http://www.rorystewart.co.uk/alston-community-ambulance-success/ and http://www.cybermoor.org/

13. http://daveharte.com/research/hyperlocal-news-websites-some-2014-stats/

69. http://www.communityjournalism.co.uk/blog/2014/11/28/crowdfunding-community-journalism-

14. Harte, David. One Every Two Minutes: Assessing the Scale of Hyperlocal Publishing in the UK. JOMEC

41. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/tv-research/lrmuk.pdf

Journal, Vol 1 No 3. Available at: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/jomec/jomecjournal/3-june2013/Harte_

42. https://hyperlocalsurvey.wordpress.com/

70. www.crowdfunder.co.uk/alittlebitofstone and https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/brixton-blog-and-

Hyperlocal.pdf

local-community-news/community-ambulance-saved

in-the-UK-Final-Final.pdf
an-update/

43. See: http://www.wannabehacks.co.uk/2011/02/02/philip-john-the-problem-with-the-word-hyperlocal/

15. http://talkaboutlocal.org.uk/directory-of-uk-hyperlocal-sites-gets-a-makeover-to-become-localweblist-

and http://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/here-and-now-uk-hyperlocal-media-today

71. http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/campaign/hyperlocal/

net-can-you-help-us/

brixton-bugle

44. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/market-data/communications-market-reports/

72. http://thebristolcable.org/about/#faq

16. http://localweblist.net/finding-scottish-hyperlocals/

73. http://thebristolcable.org/about/#toggle-id-2

17. https://www.nuj.org.uk/documents/future-of-local-papers-december-2013/

45. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/telecoms-research/Internet_Citizens_Report_14.pdf

74. http://www.printweek.com/print-week/feature/1144797/micro-publishers-local-papers-headlines and

18. http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/node/49215

46. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/tv-research/news/2014/News_Report_2014.pdf

19. http://abc.fileburst.com/interactive/rp/main.php

47. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/media-literacy/media-lit-10years/2015_Adults_

75. http://www.nesta.org.uk/areas_of_work/creative_economy/destination_local/assets/features/local_

20. http://www.themediabriefing.com/article/local-print-press-is-still-declining-but-what-could-be-their-

48. http://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/uk-demand-hyperlocal-media#sthash.ZT28Fuot.dpuf

76. http://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/local-advertising-markets-and-hyperlocal-media#sthash.

21. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/radio-research/ressearch-findings13/attitudes.pdf

49. http://media.ofcom.org.uk/facts/

22. http://media.ofcom.org.uk/news/2015/aberdeen-ayr-dundee/ - figure correct March 2015.

50. https://hyperlocalsurvey.wordpress.com/

77. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/mediapolicyproject/2013/05/31/nesta-research-public-interest-high-advertiser-

23. http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/business/business-opinion/jon-griffin-birminghams-local-tv-7614814

51. http://www.nesta.org.uk/funding-call-action-research-audience-analytics#sthash.UNkRdPUx.dpuf

24. http://www.mediaweek.co.uk/article/1346889/london-live-chief-executive-we-cant-keep-propping-up

52. https://hyperlocalsurvey.wordpress.com/#fn-3-6

78. http://mediastandardstrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Positive-Plurality-policy-paper-9-10-14.pdf

25. https://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/uk_demand_for_hyperlocal_media.pdf

53. http://www.slideshare.net/mrdamian/21st-century-news/9

79. http://www.ukpolitical.info/Turnout45.htm

26. https://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/here_and_now_uk_hyperlocal_media_today.pdf

54. http://www.slideshare.net/mrdamian/21st-century-news/10

80. Keen, Richard. 2015 www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN05125.pdf

27. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/media-literacy/media-lit-10years/2015_Adults_

55. https://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/uk_demand_for_hyperlocal_media.pdf

81. https://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3504/Politicians-trusted-less-than-

56. Newman, Nic. The rise of social media and its impact on mainstream journalism: A study of how

28. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/telecoms-research/Internet_Citizens_Report_14.pdf

newspapers and broadcasters in the UK and US are responding to a wave of participatory social

82. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/cmr/cmr12/CMR_UK_2012.pdf

29. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/market-data/communications-market-reports/

media, and a historic shift in control towards individual consumers. University of Oxford, Reuters

83. Carnegie UK Trust case studies report (forthcoming)

Institute for the Study of Journalism, 2009. Available at: http://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/

84. Dovey, Jon, Giota Alevizou and Andy Williams Citizenship, Value and Digital Culture, (forthcoming)

30. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/tv-research/lrmuk.pdf

publication/rise-social-media-and-its-impact-mainstream-journalism also see: http://qz.com/388418/

85. http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140122145147/http:/www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/wp-

31. Barnett, Steven, Judith Townend, Andy Williams, and Dave Harte. The state of UK hyperlocal

the-unstoppable-rise-of-social-media-as-a-source-for-news/

viable-alternatives

media_use_and_attitudes_report.pdf

cmr12/market-context/UK-1.98

cmr12/market-context/UK-1.98

media_use_and_attitudes_report.pdf

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/collegeofjournalism/entries/a6ef218c-09da-3cd9-b1fa-b8e987122046
advertising_markets_and_hyperlocal_media
aIVn7f2U.dpuf
interest-low-for-hyperlocal-media/

estate-agents-bankers-and-journalists.aspx

content/uploads/2012/02/fourth-submission-by-media-standards-trust.pdf

35

ENDNOTES
86. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/trinity-mirror-looks-for-further-job-cuts-10349639.

Paper 120, February 2014 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201314/ldselect/

145. http://parwich.org/ and http://www.lnpt.org/

ldcomm/120/120.pdf

146. http://kingscrossenvironment.com/ and http://morecanalsthanvenice.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/so-

html and https://www.nuj.org.uk/news/roll-call-of-newspaper-closures-and-job-losses/

87. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/telecoms-research/Internet_Citizens_Report_14.pdf

113. http://www.carnegieuktrust.org.uk/CMSPages/GetFile.aspx?guid=5f18cb2f-93d7-4a15-bede-

88. https://www.mysociety.org/files/2015/03/UseFixMyStreet.pdf

147. http://www.birminghamitsnotshit.co.uk/2012/12/a-new-dawn.html

89. Zamenopoulos, Theodore, Katerina Alexiou, Giota Alevizou, Caroline Chapain, Shawn Sobers and

114. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/tv-research/lrmuk.pdf

148. http://birminghamupdates.com/post/107914160363/terrorism-expert-steven-emerson-apologies-to

115. https://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/uk_demand_for_hyperlocal_media.pdf and http://www.

149. https://twitter.com/BhamUpdates/status/554396206533984256/photo/1

90. C4CJ provided a useful guide for community journalists on how to cover the election: http://www.

150. http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2009/feb/19/local-newspapers-newspapers

116. http://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/understanding-use-hyperlocal-content-through-consumer-

151. http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/node/45148

91. http://www.communityjournalism.co.uk/blog/2015/05/07/five-ways-hyperlocals-have-covered-the-

152. http://networkedneighbourhoods.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Online-Nhood-Networks-

117. http://orca.cf.ac.uk/68425/1/hyperlocal-community-news-in-the-uk-2014.pdf

92. https://davidhiggerson.wordpress.com/2015/05/17/general-election-2015-learning-from-hyperlocal-

118. https://www.journalism.co.uk/news-commentary/hyperlocal-news-websites-should-consider-print/s6/

153. http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/our_work/strategy/licence_fee/local_tv_contribution.html

Andy Williams. Varieties of Creative Citizenship (forthcoming).
communityjournalism.co.uk/news/guide-to-covering-the-general-election-for-community-journalists/
general-election-2015/
sites-across-the-uk/

bf07fefa7ede

theguardian.com/technology/2012/jul/19/geotag-google-mobile-search
search#sthash.ZiPRz7sQ.dpuf

long/

Section-1-rev1.pdf

a548997/, http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/hyperlocal-newspaper-be-launched-peckham and http://

154. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/statutory-notices-for-the-21st-century

93. http://thelincolnite.co.uk/2015/05/watch-back-the-lincoln-debate/

www.printweek.com/print-week/feature/1144797/micro-publishers-local-papers-headlines

155. Professor Steven Barnett, evidence to House of Lords Select Committee on Communications, Inquiry

94. http://www.communityjournalism.co.uk/blog/2015/05/06/hyperlocal-teams-up-with-the-bbc-and-

119. http://www.filtonvoice.co.uk/

on Media Plurality, 18-06-13. http://www.parliament.uk/documents/lords-committees/

120. www.hu17.net

communications/Mediaplurality/ucCOMMS180613ev2.pdf

95. http://mediastandardstrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Positive-Plurality-policy-paper-9-10-14.pdf

121. http://hackneycitizen.co.uk/

156. http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/first-19-uk-local-tv-stations-gear-launch-lebedevs-per centC2per

local-newspaper-for-general-election-debate/

96. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/21670811.2014.965932

122. http://www.carnegieuktrust.org.uk/changing-lives/knowledge-and-culture/neighbourhood-news/port-

97. Analysis of the 2007 closure of The Cincinnati Post, by Princeton economics Professor Sam Schulhofer-

157. https://www.journalism.co.uk/news-commentary/-where-hyperlocal-media-should-focus-its-

Wohl was determined to have resulted in lower voter participation. Schulhofer-Wohl, Sam, and Miguel

123. http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/in-your-area/

Garrido. Do newspapers matter? Evidence from the closure of the Cincinnati Post. No. 236. Discussion

124. http://onlinejournalismblog.com/2013/12/06/hyperlocal-voices-revisited-ray-duffill-hedon-blog/

158. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17512786.2015.1046994#preview (paywall)

papers in economics/Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs,

125. http://jonslattery.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/hyperlocal-epping-site-to-launch-mag.html

159. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/citizen-journalists-and-bloggers-should-be-let-in-to-public-

2009. Available at:: http://www.scribd.com/doc/13360606/Do-Newspapers-Matter

126. http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/yep125/yep-leeds-joins-forces-with-the-city-

98. http://media.ofcom.org.uk/news/2012/ofcom-publishes-report-on-measuring-media-plurality/

160. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/council-spending/10772862/Pickles-at-war-with-town-hall-

talbot-magnet

talking-1-6808292

centA345m-london-live-leading-way
attention-/s6/a554081/

council-meetings

99. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/measuring-plurality/advice/

127. http://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/destination_local_our_lessons_to_date.pdf

100. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/media-plurality-framework/

128. http://www.nesta.org.uk/blog/bbc-strengthens-links-local-publishers-positive-step-hyperlocal-media

161. https://davidhiggerson.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/councils-and-hyperlocal-bloggers-its-the-council-

101. http://media.ofcom.org.uk/news/2012/ofcom-publishes-report-on-measuring-media-plurality/

129. http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2015/bbc-news-online-local-newspapers

system-which-needs-changing-not-how-people-are-allowed-to-cover-them/ and http://podnosh.

102. http://www.digitalnewsreport.org/survey/2015/united-kingdom-2015/

130. http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2015/hyperlocal

com/blog/2013/06/14/can-i-video-my-local-council-meetings/

103. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/measuring-plurality/letters/advice.pdf (Pg 8)

131. http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/our_work/strategy/licence_fee/local_tv_contribution.html

162. See both this post and the comments below: http://podnosh.com/blog/2015/07/13/do-hyperlocal-

104. http://www.mediaplurality.com/local-and-hyperlocal/

132. https://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/here_and_now_uk_hyperlocal_media_today.pdf

105. http://mediastandardstrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Positive-Plurality-policy-paper-9-10-14.pdf

133. http://kingscrossenvironment.com/category/local-issues/noisy-cemex-concrete-plant-rufford-street/

163. http://www.communityjournalism.co.uk/blog/2015/07/15/are-you-affected-by-the-change-in-libel-laws/

106. http://mediastandardstrust.org/mst-news/addressing-the-democratic-deficit-in-local-news-through-

134. http://hedonblog.co.uk/tag/yorkshire-water-smells/

164. http://www.communityjournalism.co.uk/blog/2015/07/20/regulating-hyperlocal/

135. http://hedonblog.co.uk/2012/12/05/hedon-community-and-sports-groups-benefit-from-yorkshire-

165. http://impressproject.org/relevantpublisher/

107. https://theodi.org/blog/guest-blog-where-are-armchair-auditors

166. http://meejalaw.com/2012/08/13/damian-radcliffe-hey-regulator-leave-those-hyperlocals-alone/

108. http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/media-power-and-plurality-steven-barnett/?K=9781137522832

136. https://hyperlocalsurvey.wordpress.com/#WhatKindofNews

167. http://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/events/silicon-valley-and-journalism-make-or-break

109. Case Study: My Turriff, Carnegie UK Trust case study report (forthcoming publication)

137. http://www.brixtonblog.com/campaign-save-the-lambeth-country-show/2568

168. https://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/understanding_use_of_hyperlocal_content_through_

110. http://onlinejournalismblog.com/2012/06/22/hyperlocal-voices-rachel-howells-port-talbot-magnet/

138. http://thebristolcable.org/2015/06/exclusive-interactive-bristol-unis-not-so-ethical-investments/

111. The Creative Media Workforce Survey 2014 Summary Report reported “5% of the workforce stated

139. https://www.journalism.co.uk/news/local-investigative-media-5-exclusives-from-the-bristol-cable/s2/

169. http://mediastandardstrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Positive-Plurality-policy-paper-9-10-14.pdf

that they have a disability. This figure has remained constant since 2003 and is significantly lower than

170. http://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/destination_local_our_lessons_to_date.pdf

the 11% across the wider UK working population.” It also reported that “52% of the workforce are aged

140. http://www.eastdulwichforum.co.uk/ and http://www.sheffieldforum.co.uk/

171. http://www.carnegieuktrust.org.uk/blog/june-2015/how-can-policy-makers-support-uk-hyperlocal-

over 35, this compares to 64% of the UK working population” and that “14% of the workforce

141. https://www.mysociety.org/files/2014/03/FixMyStreet-pressbriefing.pdf

attended an independent/ fee-paying school, double the proportion of the UK population (7%).”

142. http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/thenewsroom/2014/09/news-from-the-community.html

172. http://www.parliament.uk/documents/lords-committees/communications/Mediaplurality/

http://creativeskillset.org/assets/0001/0465/Creative_Skillset_Creative_Media_Workforce_Survey_2014.pdf

143. http://spitalfieldslife.com/

144. http://digbeth.org/category/voices-from-the-motherland/

173. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/collegeofjournalism/entries/83df11cb-40ef-408c-a8df-3b8ce1948240

positive-plurality/

112. See, for example, the House of Lords Communications Committee 2014 report on Media Plurality, HL

water-community-fund/

a565680/

Pravdas.html

websites-fall-foul-of-leveson-and-the-new-press-regulator-and-libel-laws/

consumer_search.pdf

mediaucCOMMS180613ev2.pdf

Supported by Cardiff University’s Engagement Projects
Cefnogwyd gan Prosiectau Ymgysylltu Prifysgol Caerdydd

This report has been written for Nesta and Cardiff University by Damian Radcliffe.
Damian is an analyst, researcher and journalist.
He is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Cardiff
School of Journalism, Media and Culture Studies
(JOMEC) at Cardiff University and a Fellow of the Royal
Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures
and Commerce (RSA).
From mid-September 2015 he will be the Carolyn S.
Chambers Professor in Journalism at the University
of Oregon.

Damian has written and spoken extensively about
hyperlocal media and community journalism for
organisations such as for Nesta, Cardiff University and
C4CJ, BBC College of Journalism, TEDx Reset (Istanbul),
journalism.co.uk, TheMediaBriefing, Online Journalism
Blog, Street Fight, Abramis Academic Publishing and
the Centre for Research on Communities and Culture at
Canterbury Christ Church University.
You can follow him on Twitter @damianradcliffe or
view his extensive research and writing portfolio at
www.damianradcliffe.com

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