Part of the process in taking part in the Cardiff University Community Journo course is to take notes.
Plenty of notes.
And so I'm going to use this space over the coming weeks to capture my own thoughts and observations coming out of the #FLcommunityjourno learnings. Sharing it makes sense - it's all part of the collaborative learning.
Speaking of which...
I'm making slow progress. Nothing to do with the quality of the course (exceptionally high) but the whole work / life balance thing. Four hours per week is the minimum input.
The problem is that the subject of exploring hyperlocal online takes you off at many different tangents. Soon once click away becomes a whole morning of extra reading and viewing material.
But it's all good.
As the title of this outline suggests, I've ploughed through #FLcommunityjourno 1.1 - 1.6
This is more the very informal meet 'n' greet with the course tutors and other learners. It is an ...outline of what is to come.
First observation: FutureLearn is a fantastic tool in which to deliver the content. The multi-platform functionality means that I'm not restricted by time and space as to when I access the modules. I can see a lot of train learning taking place over the coming weeks.
As you would expect from a modern interweb content course delivered over the modern interweb - a large emphasis is placed on the social.
And then there's the individual blogs that are keeping the shared conversation going.
The content for the course so far has considered:
"Community news sites can complement mainstream media by providing local news and information that commercial organisations would otherwise miss."
"Such partnerships can be based on the exchange of local information for a share of revenue or distribution."
I would like to see some examples of how this share of revenue or distribution actually appear. My own experience has been a one-way relationship. Legacy media [URGH] snaffle up your content without even an acknowledgement.
You're not entering into hyperlocal to make money (I'm not even sure what you are entering into hyperlocal for, but that's for a different blog post...)
There is a very real social currency in term of links though. If BIG media lifts one of my stories, then the least I expect is a link back in the online copy.
Ah yes - the online copy...
Does it even exist?
It didn't take long for the buzz phrase of 'crisis in journalism' to appear - course module 1.6 to be precise.
I prefer the term Crisis in the Journalism Industry. It is now possible for the Who, What, Where, Why and When to be told for free. The publishing of content only becomes a ‘crisis’ when the free market moves in.
Tell It Like It Is, etc.
Richard Sambrook spoke with Professor Justin Lewis, asking: why is the journalism industry in trouble?
Competition from online was an answer. Being caught asleep in your own news patch wasn't offered up as a possible reason by the Professor.
Will hyperlocal replace legacy? In some areas yes, in others no, came back the reply. Professor Lewis then made the call to support and sustain [URGH] hyperlocal.
And good luck with that one, Comrade.
You can search around for a model to support this sector under your comfort blanket of research grants and external funding. But it has failed for BIG media then it will fail for hyperlocal as well.
There isn't a Magical Media Money Man who just dishes out the dosh.
Nope - THERE REALLY ISN'T... etc.
More teaching of hyperlocal reporting is called for in the video. Which is a kinda self-fulfilling argument for the rather fine (and FREE) #FLcommunityjourno course.
It really does come down to just chuffing DO IT.
You don't need an income from hyperlocal - you certainly won't make one. It should be the passion of providing a service in your local community that is the inspiration. Hopefully you will be able to bring others on board with you to help share the workflow.
Hyperlocal is not a hobby, but it is not a career choice either. You need to make your money elsewhere - this is true sustainability, Comrades.
One theme I was in agreement with whilst watching the video was the reason as to why hyperlocal increasingly matters. Professor Lewis spoke of how it all comes down to accountability. A list of Cllrs is just a list of names being allowed to do whatever they want, unless they are held to account within the local community.
Who are these people? What do they stand for? What is their power? How were they given this power? How can we remove them?
The concluding part of the module asked if hyperlocal will succeed where legacy has failed.
It depends on what you are measuring the failure of BIG media by...
Meaningful partnerships between journos and the community were called for.
We need to redefine what local news is. Old school gatekeeping and the language of local news twaddle just doesn't make sense to the world that I live in.
If local media can't speak for the community in which they represent, then who are they speaking for?
Maybe I'll find out in future weeks with #FLcommunityjourno.