Andy Mabbett, aka pigsonthewing

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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 Submissions blatantly failing to meet these criteria will not be published here.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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Posted by on 19 April 2012.

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Categories: hyperlocal, ideas, social media

56 Responses

  1. weell done, Andy, I hope The Chamberlain Files fits your criteria.
    Here are a couple of random story links:

    by Marc Reeves on Apr 19, 2012 at 13:55

  2. 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:

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

    by Ed Walker on Apr 19, 2012 at 14:00

  3. 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

    by william perrin on Apr 19, 2012 at 14:01

  4. My favourite article from

    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:

    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.

    by Ian Mellett on Apr 19, 2012 at 14:14

  5. Well done Andy!

    Hello Robin. Thanks for considering Hyperlocals for inclusion on the BBC site. I co- founded the 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.



    by Steph Jennings on Apr 19, 2012 at 14:29

  6. 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

    by Robin Morley on Apr 19, 2012 at 15:30

  7. Thank you for this opportunity.

    We generate original content at

    These are three of our stories this week:
    1,000 new homes plan dominates annual Uckfield town meeting

    Passenger numbers increaase on ever-busier Uckfield rail line

    Two ideas win support to improve traffic flow in Uckfield

    by Cathy Watson on Apr 19, 2012 at 17:44

  8. [...] The BBC, Regional News and Sport, and Hyperlocal Blogs | Andy Mabbett, aka pigsonthewing [...]

    by Today’s links 04/19/2012 « Sarah Hartley on Apr 19, 2012 at 22:30

  9. [...] Andy Mabbett writes that: “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.” [...]

    by BBC regional sites to consider including links to hyperlocal blogs | Online Journalism Blog on Apr 20, 2012 at 07:31

  10. 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.

    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:

    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:

    Please keep this dialogue going!

    by Tim Dickens on Apr 20, 2012 at 09:06

  11. 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:

    by Jason on Apr 20, 2012 at 09:41

  12. [...] move, coupled with news of hopeful moves by the BBC to include links to hyperlocal sites in their local pages adds up to another good week for hyperlocal – greater visibility and, [...]

    by Talk About Local » Are you in Google News yet? Help us track it on Apr 20, 2012 at 14:38

  13. 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.

    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:

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

    by Ray Duffill on Apr 20, 2012 at 15:34

  14. 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 (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

    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:

    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:

    Some of my stories have included:

    Regular reports about the Parish Council

    The Community plan for Formby

    The Portas Town Bids process

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

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

    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

    My thanks in anticipation of your interest,

    Sean Brady

    by Sean Brady on Apr 20, 2012 at 16:57

  15. [...] move, coupled with news of hopeful moves by the BBC to include links to hyperlocal sites in their local pages adds up to another good week for hyperlocal – greater visibility and, [...]

    by Talk About Local » Are you in Google News yet? Help us track it | Social Media Somerset on Apr 20, 2012 at 20:37

  16. 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!

    by Philip John on Apr 21, 2012 at 13:03

  17. Phil, the request to supply a couple of article URLs is just so Robin has some examples to review.

    by Andy Mabbett on Apr 21, 2012 at 13:41

  18. Ohhh okay, sorry my mistake!

    by Philip John on Apr 21, 2012 at 14:30

  19. [...] The BBC, Regional News and Sport, and Hyperlocal Blogs | Andy Mabbett, aka pigsonthewing - The BBC are keen to explore the potential for including items from hyperlocal sites in the “From other news sites” links within their online regional news posts. [...]

    by Talk About Local » Links for Monday 23rd April on Apr 23, 2012 at 11:16

  20. 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 :)


    by Robin Morley on Apr 23, 2012 at 11:48

  21. That’s fantastic, Robin, thank you. Unfortunately, I can’t make the TAL event, due to a prior commitment. Perhaps one of you could jointly host a session on this, with a hyperlocal blogger?

    by Andy Mabbett on Apr 23, 2012 at 12:33

  22. 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 and it’s great being able to cover local stories that people really care about that often get ignored by the local ‘rags’

    by Andy Roberts on Apr 23, 2012 at 12:57

  23. So please fell free to submit a couple… ;-)

    by Andy Mabbett on Apr 23, 2012 at 13:14

  24. Here are a few examples of our articles;

    by Andy Roberts on Apr 23, 2012 at 13:22

  25. 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:

    ‘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.

    by Carrie Spacey on Apr 23, 2012 at 14:09

  26. Good job, here’s a few from us in West Wolverhampton

    by Colin Carr on Apr 23, 2012 at 20:17

  27. 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.

    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!)

    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?

    by Phyllis Stephen on Apr 25, 2012 at 17:59

  28. 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 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.

    by Sean Kelly on Apr 26, 2012 at 10:10

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

    by Robin Morley on Apr 26, 2012 at 15:14

  30. 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:

    by Cathy Watson on Apr 27, 2012 at 17:54

  31. Hi Ed – You’re now listed here:


    by Robin Morley on Apr 27, 2012 at 17:54

  32. Hi Ian – Connect Cannock is now linked to from here:

    We also have a list of Staffordshire hyperlocal sites linked to from the same place which could probably do with some housekeeping… it’s on our to-do list!

    by Robin Morley on Apr 27, 2012 at 17:59

  33. Hi Steph – we are now linking to WV11 from our Birmingham and Black Country links page here:

    by Robin Morley on Apr 27, 2012 at 18:01

  34. Hi Cathy – Uckfield News now linked to from here:

    by Robin Morley on Apr 27, 2012 at 18:02

  35. Hi Tim – Yours is now among the local sites we’re linking to from our BBC London directory here:


    by Robin Morley on Apr 27, 2012 at 18:04

  36. Hi Jason – Thanks for letting us know about the site. Colchester Chronicle is now linked to from BBC Essex here:

    by Robin Morley on Apr 27, 2012 at 18:06

  37. Hi Ray

    You’ll now find HU12 Online linked from the Local News section of BBC Humberside:

    by Robin Morley on Apr 27, 2012 at 18:12

  38. Hi Sean – We are now linking to Formby First from BBC Liverpool here –


    by Robin Morley on Apr 27, 2012 at 18:15

  39. Hi Andy – Our Beds, Herts & Bucks site is now linking to you from this page:


    by Robin Morley on Apr 27, 2012 at 18:16

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

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

    Thanks very much in advance!

    by Carrie Spacey on Apr 27, 2012 at 18:18

  41. Hi Carrie – There’s now a link to your Neston content from BBC Liverpool here:

    by Robin Morley on Apr 27, 2012 at 18:18

  42. Hi Colin – We’re now linking to you from the BBC Birmingham & Black Country site:


    by Robin Morley on Apr 27, 2012 at 18:19

  43. Hi Carrie – you should now find a link to your content here:


    by Robin Morley on Apr 27, 2012 at 18:20

  44. 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.


    by Robin Morley on Apr 27, 2012 at 18:24

  45. Thank you.

    by Cathy Watson on Apr 27, 2012 at 18:31

  46. Thank you, Robin. I’m sure I speak for all the bloggers concerned when I say this is a great start, and we all look forward to future collaboration.

    by Andy Mabbett on Apr 27, 2012 at 18:40

  47. Thanks! That’s marvellous!

    by Ray Duffill on Apr 27, 2012 at 18:48

  48. 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 / 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… :-)

    by Michael Smethurst on Apr 27, 2012 at 19:36

  49. All good stuff though, Michael, thank you, especially given my interest in microformats, which I deployed on parts of the Openly Local site. That site also has a directory of hyperlocal sites, which may be a good place to start the crawl.

    I’m sure the site’s creator, , would be amenable to cooperation. I’ll bring this discussion to his attention.

    by Andy Mabbett on Apr 27, 2012 at 20:41

  50. Thank you Robin, your efforts are much appreciated.

    by Carrie Spacey on Apr 27, 2012 at 20:49

  51. Brilliant, thank you – and thanks to Andy for raising this as well!

    by Ian Mellett on Apr 30, 2012 at 20:39

  52. 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.—connecting-communit.shtml

    by David Hayward on May 2, 2012 at 10:39

  53. This is great news – well done Andy and Robin.
    It’s fantastic to have the Beeb recognise hyperlocal sites. Please consider Postcode Gazette – operating in Sheffield. Some links to stories below:

    by Chris McCormack on May 3, 2012 at 09:41

  54. [...] The local linking activity came about following discussions with blogger Andy Mabbett and you can read more about the thinking behind it here. [...]

    by » BBC opportunity for users n0tice on May 10, 2012 at 10:11

  55. Hi, I feel should be included as a high-quality hyperlocal site on BBC regional pages.

    by This Is Warminster on May 18, 2012 at 13:46

  56. 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 and the potential impact of HS2 My best scoop was the visit of Boris Johnson to the area during the mayoral election campaign 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

    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.

    by Albertina McNeill on May 23, 2012 at 01:47

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About Andy Mabbett, aka pigsonthewing

Pigsonthewing aka Andy Mabbett, of Birmingham, England. My interests Having programmed machines with paper tape and punched cards (at a very young age!), I’m glad to see things have moved on a little. I gave up programming many years ago, but was involved in the design and management of pioneering, large-scale websites in the UK’s […]more →

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