The BBC, Regional News and Sport, and Hyperlocal Blogs

This is the second in a pair of posts about my recent meeting with Robin Morley, the BBC‘s Social media lead for the English Regions. The first, “The BBC, Open Content and Wikipedia“, was published yesterday.

Many BBC regional news items currently have “From other news sites” sections, which link to reports of the same stories, from other news providers, including traditional newspapers and others. For example, this report of a happy outcome to missing child case from Smethwick has stories from the West Midlands Police, the Rugby Advertiser, Manchester (!) Wired, Huffington Post UK and the Birmingham Mail:

Screenshot of the 'From other news sites' section of the news story linked to above

However, these sections don’t yet include hyperlocal blogs. Indeed, the BBC say:

In general, our rules tend to give greater weight to national and international sources over regional or local ones.

At my suggestion, Robin has graciously agreed to consider requests from reputable hyperlocal websites, to have links to their news stories included in such sections. This, if I say so myself, is a major coup for hyperlocal blogging.

Interested hyperlocal bloggers (in England only, for now, as that’s the extent of Robin’s remit) are therefore invited to submit details of their blog, with links to a couple of their recent news stories, including original content (no churnalism, please) in a comment below, for consideration by Robin. I must emphasise that, while he’s kindly agreed to consider including such links, no promises have been made. The emphasis is on news stories, not lobbying or party-political pieces. Submissions blatantly failing to meet these criteria will not be published here.

To start things off, here are two modest stories from my local blog, The B44 (disclosure: I wrote the first of them), covering parts of Great Barr and Kingstanding in that postcode district.

Do you write for a hyperlocal blog? What are your best news exclusives? It’s up to us to demonstrate to Robin and his colleagues that suitable content exists.

I’ll report back on the outcome.

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About Andy Mabbett

Enjoying my new freelance career, helping organisations to understand on-line communities, open content, and related issues.
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56 Responses to The BBC, Regional News and Sport, and Hyperlocal Blogs

  1. Ed Walker says:

    Good post Andy and hopefully the BBC will start including hyperlocal news sites. I’ve been on to BBC Lancashire for ages about them adding us to their ‘Other news providers’ page for Blog Preston.

    They have this site listed: http://www.ormskirk.gb.com/ormskirk

    But they won’t list us. Makes no sense in my book.

  2. well done Andy.

    The BBC have flirted with this before when I set up a meeting for David Holdsworth, Controller Regions in Birmingham (especially showing him Dave Hartes Bourneville Village blog and its coverage of the Cadbury take over) David was clear that they should have been linking to that, as well as/instead of the Express and Star. then we moved to a love in Nick Booth convened in Brum for WM BBC staff and hyperlocal bloggers, but it’s hard to see what actions came out of that.

    In London I occasionally get links from the BBC (as much as it matters) and in the past they have agreed to link to our Kings Cross site but it never quite seems to happen. Indeed the sites they do link to are often a very odd selection.

    The trick is to keep at it as you are doing and probably to track it assiduously to see if links emerge

  3. Ian Mellett says:

    My favourite article from http://www.connectcannock.co.uk:

    http://www.connectcannock.co.uk/news/staffordshire-district-council-rejects-biffa-incinerator-proposals-for-cannock/

    We were well ahead of any other news source on this, and got a statement from Biffa before anybody else.

    Similar situation with this one:
    http://www.connectcannock.co.uk/news/stafford-ae-potentially-going-full-time-early-may/

    We were the only news source in attendance to that meeting, as far as I’m aware, and the issue of Stafford Hospitals Accident and Emergency dept cutting hours has been a major one locally.

  4. Well done Andy!

    Hello Robin. Thanks for considering Hyperlocals for inclusion on the BBC site. I co- founded the http://www.wv11.co.uk hyperlocal site with my partner to cover the area of Wednesfield, and wider in Wolverhampton and while neither myself of James consider ourselves as journalists we are factual and accurate and would love for WV11 to be included as one of the local blogs the BBC could link to.

    Examples of stories we have covered include; Arrests after a mans death; changes to police stations opening hours;
    Coverage of the riots and
    dispelling rumours on the riots and other stories like
    the carvers fire.

    Regards

    Steph

  5. Robin Morley says:

    Thanks for the write-up, Andy, and it was great to chat. We link to a variety of external sources in various different ways from our local sites – so expanding the pool is definitely something we’re keen to explore.

    If anyone would like to email me directly with suggestions it’s [update - email address removed, as Robin has left the BBC]

    Cheers – Robin

  6. Cathy Watson says:

    Thank you for this opportunity.

    We generate original content at uckfieldnews.com.

    These are three of our stories this week:
    1,000 new homes plan dominates annual Uckfield town meeting
    http://www.uckfieldnews.com/news/latest_stories/townmeeting1804.html

    Passenger numbers increaase on ever-busier Uckfield rail line
    http://www.uckfieldnews.com/news/latest_stories/railuse1504.html

    Two ideas win support to improve traffic flow in Uckfield
    http://www.uckfieldnews.com/news/latest_stories/uckfieldroads1604.html

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  8. Pingback: BBC regional sites to consider including links to hyperlocal blogs | Online Journalism Blog

  9. Tim Dickens says:

    Hello all,
    This is great thinking and certainly the way forward! At a recent meeting with the BBC at Broadcasting House – organised by Networked Neighbourhoods – I felt that the BBC London representative was quite closed to even acknowledging hyperlocals exist! Which surprised me somewhat.
    We relaunched the Brixton Blog in February as a news website and now generate original news stories daily. Our biggest success was forcing Lambeth council into an embarrassing U-turn to reinstate the popular Lambeth Country Show (which attracts some 250k people each year). This was picked up by BBC London among others and our editor Zoe Jewell was interviewed on the Eddie Nestor show.

    http://www.brixtonblog.com/lambeth-country-show-confirmed-with-400k-budget
    http://www.brixtonblog.com/campaign-save-the-lambeth-country-show

    Last week, two days before the Standard broke with the “exclusive” news that Met boss Bernard Hogan-Howe will put cameras into police vans we broke it here: http://www.brixtonblog.com/met-chief-i-cant-be-sure-were-not-institutionally-racist/4256

    And a number of our stories have been picked up by the Standard to reach a London-wide audience. Our content certainly has a relevance to the BBC London news audience.

    Last link, here’s a bit more information about us: http://www.brixtonblog.com/aims

    Please keep this dialogue going!

  10. Jason says:

    Hi there

    This sounds like quite a significant achievement, if the various regions see it through. I remember the discussion at the Hyperlocal Voices session back in September 2010 talking about the value of links as a form of currency.

    Having the BBC on board would be great. On a more local level and trying to gain the trust and co-operation with regional print titles would be even better in terms of linking.

    Here’s a few Colchester based storied that have appeared in the Colchester Chronicle this month:

    http://www.colchesterchronicle.co.uk/2012/04/17/reprieve-for-quayside-cafe/

    http://www.colchesterchronicle.co.uk/2012/04/16/finding-out-about-frequency/

    http://www.colchesterchronicle.co.uk/2012/04/08/chronic-sings-the-blues/

    http://www.colchesterchronicle.co.uk/2012/04/05/banking-n-bartering/

    http://www.colchesterchronicle.co.uk/2012/04/04/colch-free-festival-planning/

    http://www.colchesterchronicle.co.uk/2012/03/29/saving-sunny-colch-social-assets/

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  12. Ray Duffill says:

    Thanks for considering Hyperlocal websites for inclusion on the BBC.

    These are two stories from this week, both HU12 Online originals.

    The first story is topical locally and of interest to voluntary and community sector activists but not something that has yet been picked up by the mainstream. http://www.hu12online.net/events/paull-bid-significant-event-in-village-history/

    The second is a typical Election Story built through making local council by-election contacts. The fact its about John Prescott gives it a bit more significance: http://www.hu12online.net/withernsea/election-2012-john-prescott-joins-holderness-by-election-campaign-trail/

    The BBC in Humberside have specifically linked to my Hedon Blog in the past. This is always welcome.

  13. Sean Brady says:

    Here’s an open copy of my email to Robin Morley.

    Hello Robin,

    I’m responding to your recent invitation regarding links from the BBC
    to hyperlocal blog/news sites. I would be delighted if you would
    consider formbyfirst.org.uk (Local stories about Formby as a Place and
    a Community).
    I began the blog a long time ago as a means of reporting on my
    activities as a local Parish Councillor, my first entry was on 27
    February 2006, see
    http://formby-altcar.blogspot.co.uk/2006/02/purpose-of-this-web-blog.html

    I have now retired as a Councillor and the purpose of my blog/web site
    is to provide a service to the Formby community in general.
    I continue to write about and comment on events and issues as they
    affect Formby as a place and a community. I also invite residents to
    join in the dialogue about our Town.

    The ‘Your Letters’ page has recently been very successful:

    http://www.formbyfirst.org.uk/your-letters.html

    Residents can follow activities and events in Formby on a related
    Twitter account: @formbyvillage

    I am adding to a small but growing collection of videos about aspects
    of Formby on Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/formbyfirst

    Some of my stories have included:

    Regular reports about the Parish Council

    http://www.formbyfirst.org.uk/2012/04/formby-
    par.html

    The Community plan for Formby

    http://www.formbyfirst.org.uk/formby-community-
    plan/

    The Portas Town Bids process

    http://www.formbyfirst.org.uk/2012/02/portas-town-team-bid-update.html

    The latest entry is about the formation of a new NCT group in Formby

    http://www.formbyfirst.org.uk/2012/04/national-childbirth-trust-new-group-in-formby.html

    And much, much more. I have integrated the Guardian n0tice.com
    service, so I regularly publish details of events, reports and offers
    in Formby. These are occasionally reposted on the national version of
    the n0tice.com service. Here’s one example:

    http://formbyarts.n0tice.com/event/1462/formby-books-would-like-to-invite-you-to-become-pilgrims

    I’d be delighted if some of my stories/reports reached a wider
    audience. In my view the future of large ‘Broadcast’ media is
    inextricably bound to the growth of local social media sites like
    mine.

    My thanks in anticipation of your interest,

    Sean Brady

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  15. Philip John says:

    Great news Andy and thanks for taking the time to meet Robin and achieve this step forward. I was disappointed that nothing much more seemed to come from the BBC event Will mentions above, despite the good vibes. Clearly you should have been there.

    I can’t help thinking there’s not a much value in us sending individual articles to Robin as there is in our articles appearing there automatically. How do the likes of the Birmingham Post get their articles added, do they send individual articles in, or is it automated? Obviously questions for Robin & Co but wanted to raise them here first.

    Thanks again!

  16. Philip John says:

    Ohhh okay, sorry my mistake!

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  18. Robin Morley says:

    Hi all – Thanks for all these suggestions and the ones I’ve received via email too.

    Just to bring you up to speed, we’ve freed up Kathryn Hamlett, one of our senior journalists from the BBC News England hub in Birmingham, to work over the next few months on forging better links with hyperlocals. We’ll be working through your suggestions this week so you’ll be hearing from Kathryn or me shortly.

    And we’ll both be at #TAL12 this Saturday – so please say hello if you are too :)

    cheers
    Robin

  19. Andy Roberts says:

    Excellent news. In my experience hyper-local sites & bloggers are often much closer to the “real” stories than the regional or national press.

    I run the AboutMyArea hyperlocal websites in Milton Keynes, including http://www.aboutmyarea.co.uk/mk11 and it’s great being able to cover local stories that people really care about that often get ignored by the local ‘rags’

  20. I’ve already had, on occasion, some links included in the ‘Other Local News sites’ section on BBC Merseyside, I am delighted to say. However, as has been mentioned above, it is very hit and miss.

    It would be a very welcome step forward to have the BBC link to us on a more regular basis.

    A story of particular interest that we are currently running is here:

    http://www.aboutmyarea.co.uk/Cheshire/Neston/CH64/News/Local-News/220552-RU1OFR10000

    ‘RU1OFR10000?’ is the launch of an appeal from Neston High School to find as many of the 10,000 students as possible who have passed through its doors in the 40 years since comprehensive education came into play in this country. As far as we know, this is a unique appeal to mark a national milestone, and the further afield we can spread the story, the better, in terms of finding former pupils.

  21. We are the hyperlocal news website for Edinburgh and there are many examples of our original stories on our website. (We make no bones about using press releases too as we do not have manpower to cover all the stories that there are in our capital, and we feel that to be a one-stop shop for Edinburgh news we have to offer as wide coverage as we can.)

    This week we are leading up to Pedal on Parliament on Saturday when there will be a flash cycle ride to Holyrood by what could be hundreds of cyclists demanding safety measures from the government.

    We are running a series of cycling articles this week, one of which you can read here. http://www.theedinburghreporter.co.uk/2012/04/pedal-on-parliament-cycle-ride-gets-politicians-talking/

    Today we had Donald Trump at Holyrood offering his views against the installation of wind farms in Scotland. We included mention of that in advance in our daily article called Five things you need to know today. (Great image you have to see it!) http://www.theedinburghreporter.co.uk/2012/04/five-things-you-need-to-know-today-283/

    We cover council meetings by using Cover it Live incorporating Twitter, and after the new council is elected next Thursday/Friday we plan to use CoveritLive, the written word, Audioboo and Bambuser to offer live coverage of the election including interviews with the new councillors all of which will go up live or next to live on our site.

    I had emailed the BBC some time back and got no reply, so will be delighted if there is any chance at all that The Edinburgh Reporter could be included in the BBC list – they still have a link to the now defunct Guardian Edinburgh page….

    But I am sorry that your contact with the BBC is only limited to England – can we perhaps be put in touch with the appropriate person at the BBC in Scotland?

    • Robin Morley says:

      Hi Phyllis – if you’d like to drop me at email – robin.morley[at]bbc.co.uk – I’ll do my best to put you in touch with the right people.

  22. Sean Kelly says:

    Our understanding is that ‘Links from other news sites’ on BBC news items is driven by a new source supplier called Moreover. This is a news technology business that also supplies companies like Reuters.

    We are told by contacts at the BBC that the journalist is presented with a list of links to choose from based on keywords within the item by Moreover and they can select the ones that appear to be most relevant.

    If you are not on Moreover you won’t appear on this list but getting on Moreover’s list of news sources doesn’t appear to be straightforward. Up until a year ago you could ‘ping’ Moreover with news items but they have stopped accepting submissions in this way. The result appears to be that the number of non-mainstream news sources appearing on BBC’s other site links has fallen. Stories from our network of local news sites used to appear fairly regularly but don’t any longer.

    If you want to check whether you are on Moreover Ask.com use them to power their news search so you can check there. If you are not listed there doesn’t appear to be an immediately obvious way to submit your site.

    The BBC pay Moreover for a service and most people participating here are likely to agree that this service is deficient if it is not giving BBC journalists the best possible range of links to add to their stories. Robin might find that the easiest and most effective way to improve matters is to encourage Moreover to expand their list of news sources.

  23. Cathy Watson says:

    I was delighted to receive an email from Robin Morley today to say that my Uckfield News website is now featured in the BBC Sussex directory of local sites!

    Thank you so much Andy for opening this door and thank you Robin for your support. This boost is much appreciated.

    And here’s a link to the BBC Sussex directory: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-12624243

  24. I’m beginning to feel like billy-no-mates – my site is still not listed on BBC Merseyside, despite posting here and emailing liverpool@bbc.co.uk.

    Robin – is there anything you can do to help me?

    Thanks very much in advance!

  25. Robin Morley says:

    Hi all – As you’ll hopefully have seen I’ve highlighted above where we’ve started linking to your work from the BBC News website.

    I just wanted to underline that this is very much a “first step” – we don’t want to post a static link and imagine that our work is done. But hopefully it’s a positive move, and one which will bring some new users your way.

    Here’s to a continuing dialogue.

    Regards
    Robin

  26. Hi Andy (and Robin)

    Good work as ever. My comment is probably a little random but I’m wondering how well this scales past UK blogs / to other news orgs…

    …the connection between a local blog post and bbc / guardian / whatever article is *usually* through (reporting of) an event (at a time in a place). Wondering if there’s a way to encode place / time (of event) in posts. Obviously there are microformats for events and geo and, given we’re talking about news, rNews. My colleague Silver tells me that many of the blogging platforms are looking at the inclusion of rNews in templating but for now the timing markup it provides seems to be more article centric (publication time) than event centric. Maybe we could work with rNews / schema.org to add event timing information?

    Also wondering whether comments on this post scale to hyperlocal blog discovery. And whether there’s a need for something / somewhere web visible for local blogs to register just to provide a starting point for a crawl (maybe using Common Crawl). And a web visible dashboard for journalists to query posts by event time and location.

    Like I said, rambly… :-)

  27. Andy, I run the events programme at the BBC College of Journalism. We’re holding a conference in Salford on 24th May called Connecting Communities #BBCScc12. It’s looking at how mainstream media engages with communities on a local, global and cultural level. This is exaclty the sort of issue we’ll be examining. It’s free and registration is now open.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/journalism/blog/2012/04/bbcscc12—connecting-communit.shtml

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  29. Hi, I feel http://www.thisiswarminster.co.uk should be included as a high-quality hyperlocal site on BBC regional pages.

  30. I didn’t really intend it to be a news blog but in some ways it has become one. Greenford 365 is a daily photo blog about a suburb in the London Borough of Ealing. After running a local campaign against HS2 I got fed up with the negative attitude some residents have to the area so I thought I’d show them some of the good things along with the bad. I talk about local planning http://wp.me/p267Ik-eq and the potential impact of HS2 http://wp.me/p267Ik-c7. My best scoop was the visit of Boris Johnson to the area during the mayoral election campaign http://wp.me/p267Ik-8v but the one I’m most proud of is about the Starlite Ballroom because it’s a forgotten part of west London’s music heritage and I found it http://wp.me/p267Ik-2J

    The local paper and forum have picked up on it and it is being looked at locally (at last!), not just in Canada or Romania, as nice as that is. I have even been linked by Dave Hill to his “Metropolitan Lines” blog on the Guardian site which was unexpected and lovely. Thanks to a lack of appropriate technology I missed an opportunity to talk to a BBC Radio 5 reporter, dammit.

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