Hull Daily Mail launches website written by the community

The Hull Daily Mail has today launched a unique site written almost entirely by readers in an experiment that could be rolled out to other Northcliffe centres.

Developed and led by Mail assistant editor Alex Leys, will provide ‘a place for community conversation’for the people of Hull and East Riding.

Trinity Mirror‘s Teesside Gazettehas already launched a series of ultra local websites carrying user generated content as well as professional journalism, but Mail editor John Meehan said that what makes Hull’s site unique is the emphasis on user-generated content.

Meehan said: ‘The only area of the site that doesn’t have user generated content is a section called Your Patch where we supplement the users’ content with very local content from our daily and weekly papers and some other sources of local news and information like community magazines.

‘This isn’t just another form of community news – in fact only a relatively small proportion of the content could be described as news. I wouldn’t describe it as citizen journalism or as social networking. There are elements of it but we needed another description and we have coined the phrase community conversation.”

The site, which requires regisration supported by email verification to post content, is divided into four main sections; Your Say, an open forum, Your Patch, which uses mapping technology to find user generated content in local areas, All Yours, where people can join networks with special interests and Your Family for families. will not be edited unless content is deemed inappropriate or raises legal issues. Guidance is given to users about such issues online.

Meehan said: ‘We believe this site will live or die by the number of people using it and particularly the volume, quality and relevance of the content. If we put a barrier between the users and publishing their content and introduce a delay, that is going to have a very negative impact.

‘We believe the immediacy and interactivity of the site are very important to its chance of success. We have put in place a variety of what we believe are robust measures to ensure that the content that we get on the site is legal and responsible.”

It aims to get 12,000 unique monthly users within the first year and depending on the success similar sites could be rolled out to other Northcliffe centres around the country.

‘We believe there is potential in time for this to be profitable,’said Meehan. ‘No advertisers have been approached prior to launch as it is an unusual concept.

‘I think all publishers will be looking to engage more in user generated content. Either we do it or someone else will come along and do it.”

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