BBC reveals boost for 'hyperlocal' news websites by adding them to Local Live streams

The BBC has announced plans to “formalise its commitment to ‘hyperlocal’ bloggers and community news providers online” by linking to their websites.

This follows an announcement in April that the corporation would be rolling out a website feature improving external linking to local newspaper stories.

The BBC said that following successful pilots, the BBC Local Live stream would be would be used across the country by mid-2016.

And the broadcaster, which has faced criticism in recent days over the size of its website news offering, has said hyperlocal sites will now also be linked to and promoted on Local Live streams.

A statement said: “[T]he BBC is now setting out its commitment to hyperlocal publishers in support of this burgeoning area of citizen engagement.

“The aim of the proposals are to strengthen links between the BBC, hyperlocals and other established forms of local media, as well as directing BBC audiences to the best stories online and ensuring the right credit is given to external news sources.”

The BBC said its proposals include “introducing an external linking system” to hyperlocal sites and ensuring that “local BBC teams are aware of hyperlocals operating in their area”.

The BBC also said that hyperlocals would be incorporated into the Local Journalism Working Group, which also includes representatives from regional newspaper groups and academics, and that it would be “engaging with partners from across the hyperlocal community and other external media to establish a Hyperlocal Forum to meet twice a year from November”.

The BBC is also seeking to promote an updated list of hyperlocal publishers. The latest estimate quoted by the BBC is that there are 408 based in the UK.

The BBC is asking hyperlocal publishers to respond to its proposals by 30 September and will publish a summary of these in November.

BBC controller of English regions David Holdsworith will be discussing the proposals with hyperlocal publishers in the Midlands today.

He said: “The BBC highly values its relationship with all contributors to local journalism. Hyperlocal bloggers provide a unique view of their communities and have a close relationship with their audiences, operating in a space not served by the BBC.

“The input of hyperlocal organisations to forums such as the BBC’s Local Journalism Working Group has proved invaluable in building a broader and more inclusive picture of the media landscape across the country.

“I’m now calling on hyperlocals to comment on these proposals so we can continue building our partnership and ensure their strongest stories can be showcased on the BBC website.”

Dave Harte, senior lecturer in media and communication at Birmingham City University and publisher of a hyperlocal blog for Bournville, said: “It has been clear from the research that myself and others have undertaken over the last few years that the hyperlocal sector in the UK is making a significant contribution to the local news landscape. 

"There are plenty of examples of hyperlocal journalism doing an excellent job of keeping citizens informed and holding local power to account. As the sector matures and tests new ways to become sustainable, it’s right that the BBC should support it through this initiative and recognise the value it creates for citizens.” 

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