Hyperlocal publishers should have the opportunity to sell credited content to the BBC, according to a new report.
Published at a conference organised by Cardiff University and the charity Nesta on the topic ‘What next for community journalism?’ the report made recommendations to aid the hyperlocal media sector.
Report author Damian Radcliffe said that the selling and buying between hyperlocal media and the BBC was an idea he would like to see expand in scope.
‘‘I’d love to see commercial media players doing the same thing, recognising that many of these publishers are producing content in geographic areas that either they don’t cover or at a level of granularity that they are unable to cover with current staffing levels.’’
He also urged the National Union of Journalists to provide "support and training for people who are not necessarily trained journalists but who have strong journalistic sensibilities and who take their responsibilities as community publishers very seriously".
The release of the report comes just days after the BBC announced plans to work more closely with local newspapers in the future, a plan attacked by national papers and The News Media Association.
On the recent BBC proposal to provide 100 reporters to work on local newspapers, Radcliffe said: "Clearly the devil is in the detail, we need to know a lot more about how it will work. It also needs to be a reciprocal relationship. It shouldn’t just be about the BBC producing content that third parties such as hyperlocal publishers can then use but also looking at where this work is going on and the BBC using it in its own sites and outputs.’’
The report, entitled ‘Where are we now?’, described the interaction between communities and hyperlocal media.
It stated: ‘‘Our research shows a sector that plays an increasingly important role in supporting the information needs of communities. Hyperlocal output can be found across all platforms, produced by a mixture of committed volunteers and entrepreneurial journalists driven by a desire to reflect and enhance the communities in which they live and work.
‘‘Yet, despite increased awareness and evidence, this remains an industry at a crossroads.’’
The report also highlighted the issues faced by hyperlocal media including problems of sustainability (both financial and personnel), funding, discoverability and recognition by traditional media, politicians and regulators.
It claimed that there are 400 active hyperlocal websites and that almost half of the site owners have journalistic training or experience working in mainstream publications.