#hyperbbcwm Notes (part 1) of a discussion between BBC staff and hyperlocal bloggers in the West Midlands

Gavin Wray’s notes from table 3

Table Three discussing hyperlocal blogs and the BBC
Table Three discussing hyperlocal blogs and the BBC - source podnosh on flickr

Access and archives

Bloggers mentioned copyright as the main barrier to exposing content in the BBC archives to a wider, and local, audience.

Frustrated when historical archives are copyrighted, preventing you sharing it with your audience. One volunteer wants to share old photos of areas around Birmingham city centre for others to reminisce, share stories or simply for curiousity. Copyrighted BBC content, in the iPlayer for example, prevents content being put in the public space for comment, discussion and consumption.

There is also a wealth of great archive content by the BBC, spanning decades of local media, that isn’t yet online. There’s lots of interest in this.

Video of Nicky Getgood talking with Robin Morley asking the BBC archives to be made available online for reuse by community websites:

Potential Support from the BBC

Useful support from the BBC at local level could be in attending councillors meetings. One blogger mentioned issue related to libraries closing in Warwickshire yet councillors were not being held to account at public meetings or the meetings were poorly attended. Exposure through BBC coverage could help raise these issues and show people that there is a place where they can make their voice heard.

Robin mentioned the BBC’s journalism training resources, previously only available internally to staff, are shared online at the BBC College of Journalism.

And how can local bloggers support the BBC? (After all, this event was about supporting each other!)

One journalism student mentioned offering to cover events for the local BBC team. Go and cover it for them. This can kickstart a relationship that will benefit both the blogger and BBC over time.

Engagement – how to

After running a neighbourhood watch scheme for 3 years, Mark started a hyperlocal site for Lightmoor Village, Shropshire. He wanted to know how to engage people, how to find out where these groups meet and what they think. How do others promote their blog – especially to communities who may not be active online?

Some ideas from the table:

Physically go where the audience will be – community halls, council run facilities, church halls, libraries. Put posters with your site’s URL  on notice boards.

Carry business cards with URL.

If you were arranging a party, where would you put up posters?

Go to events, take photos and videos to show them, return to their events, be friendly. Print out blog posts and stick them on the wall!

Produce content your site audience are interested in – be relevant.

Print your site’s URL on beermats and put them out in your local pub.

Make it easy for people to subscribe to new posts by email. For people newly online, email is one of the first things they learn. For example, those running sites on WordPress.com can use the subscribe widget. Google Feedburner can turn your RSS feed into email notifications.

Connect with people at Silver Surfers‘ events taking place 16-20 May 2011.

Let your community see it as “their news outlet”. Encourage contributions. Draw in others’ content. Get them to think: “This is our site.”

Tracey Thorne’s work with Hands on Handsworth (set up and supported by us her at Podnosh) is a great example of tying together blogging, print and engaging a wide audience. As well as running the blog, she ran the Big Handsworth Conversation and with us the social media surgeries to skill up citizen journalists (aged 10-80) to write about their area, and produced a printed community magazine to engage people offline. The best posts on the blog are used in the quarterly magazine. and citizen journalists feel they can help to change the perception of their area.

Having a magazine and being online has really helped people know what we do. These places – we might not know about them – but they all have interesting people and stories to tell. Blogs and magazines help us change perceptions of places.

Story on disused building – people go and comment [find link] – and they tell the story. It’s an empowering platform for them to tell their story of what it’s really like in Handsworth.


MD: eg police officer using twitcam – people can ask qus via twitter, get responses fr officer, cam recorded, then archived.

Twitcam – find example of police officer taking questions on Twitter and responding live via Twitcam. (Vanessa Pearce BBC mentioned this too.)


Bloggers want to reuse video stories by BBC and be supported by BBC.

Doesn’t feel govt’s local tv will work on its own; might work as part of a website.

BBC’s experiments with video and analytics – short bursts work well 2mins max.

Don’t forget text

Increasingly seen bloggers dropping text, replacing it with video and audio. These work great in the web browser, but are not so easy to watch on mobile devices, especially with limited data. Text works well on mobile. Video and audio should complement text.

Make electronic text pleasurable to read. Ebooks like the Kindle synchronise across readers and phones. They are also accessible – good text resizing, easy to use, less intimidating to those new to tech.

Untapped potential with Kindle? Just for books at the moment. Could creatively be used for news, hyperlocal blogs.

Links to blogs

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