"What’s your local newspaper like and how often do you read it?"
That's the opening question posed ahead of the five week Community Journalism course being jointly run by the Cardiff University Centre for Community Journalism and Future Learn.
It's also a question that has inspired me (sorta...) to sign up for the free course, if for nothing else then to document over here the online learning process. I hope to be able to offer a more detailed answer to the original question, come the end of the course...
Some further probing from the course bumph includes:
"With the decline of local professional media and the low cost of publishing online there are more community and hyperlocal sites being launched to take the place of local newspapers and radio."
I don't quite buy into the replacement model for mainstream local media - not yet, anyway. I would prefer a positioning of co-operation. But that implies that there is willing from both sides.
Never the twain...?
"The course combines practical skills in setting up a community website, identifying and building an audience, creating content, establishing a workflow to sustain a site, managing an online community, media law and ethics."
All relevant, all skills that are required if you want your hyperlocal to stand any chance of achieving your aims.
I'm personally keen to pick up a few tech tips. I expect the Wordpress route will be pitched up as one possible solution.
WP is a BEAST. I fall in and out of love with it, depending on my own personal mood each morning. A particularly wrong side of the WP bed morning led me to exploring outliners and fargo.io for this blog.
Identifying an audience should be straightforward. Your news footprint [URGH] is defined by your own hyperlocal patch. Sure there will be different demographics within this radius, but the whole point of hyperlocal is location, and not lifestyles.
Creating content I can cope with. Establishing a workflow is something that I leave to Evernote.
Managing an online community, media law and ethics is probably a strand of the course that I would do well to pay particular attention to...
And so I'm pretty excited about the short stretch of #FLcommunityjourno coming up. Four hours per week for just over a month is the minimum requirement.
As ever, it is the balance of sustaining [URGH] a hyperlocal with a paid working day that presents most problems. I'm slightly concerned that #FLcommunityjourno itself will be relegated down my Evernote list when it comes to pulling in the wonga.
The Chronic is still on hyperlocal sabbatical - a victim of time demands and physical location. You're setting yourself up as something of a fraud if you bang out hyperlocal copy for a patch where you currently don't spend the majority of your time.
The Wivenhoe Forum however is a model [ha!] of sustainability. £40 a year is my investment for the hosting. I have an ACE team around me, happy to volunteer and help out with the platform.
The content comes from the members of the local community - hopefully the true purpose of any hyperlocal publishing.
It's all about the people.
So yeah - I'm looking forward to #FLcommunityjourno. It's still not too late to sign up for the course ahead of the first tuition taking place on Monday 14. I've set up some twitter list action over here.