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July 9, 2015, 10 a.m.
Reporting & Production
LINK: www.bbc.co.uk  ➚   |   Posted by: Justin Ellis   |   July 9, 2015

The BBC is trying to build stronger ties to the people and organizations doing local journalism around the country. The British broadcaster is currently surveying bloggers, independent journalists, and local news organizations in order to find better ways to collaborate on sharing content.

Some of the ideas being considered are a linking tool that would share stories from local sites on the BBC, a register of community journalism sites, and a training program for hyperlocal journalists. The survey comes just a few months after the BBC decided to feature — and attribute — stories from local newspapers on its website.

The partnership is the result of a conference the BBC held in 2014, the Revival of Local Journalism, that led to the creation of a formal group focused on supporting hyperlocal news.

David Holdsworth, controller of BBC English Regions, is overseeing the survey, and writes that what constitutes “local” news in the U.K. is shifting. Holdsworth observes:

So, as an example we have a radio station and online news index that serves Sheffield and South Yorkshire. It’s an area with a proud heritage and a strong identity. Listen to Radio Sheffield and instantly the presenters tell you that you could be nowhere else in the country. But hyperlocal? Well this area includes Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley, Doncaster, and a host of smaller places.

Local newspapers serve all these towns and many others and they publish thousands more stories than the BBC every week. But in recent years joining the newspapers are this new type of local news publisher — often just one person — offering news and views about what’s happening where they live online.

There are large hyperlocals that cover entire cities such as Birmingham Updates that has nearly 60,000 Twitter followers and 180,000 Facebook likes. Then there are those that cover a very small patch like bournvillevillage.com, also in Birmingham. Whilst others like parwich.org cover villages such as Parwich in the Peak District.

Figuring out how news will be delivered is a topic of increasing interest for the BBC. This week it was announced that the broadcaster is considering moving its 24-hour news channel into an online-only network because of cost considerations.

A BBC report from earlier this year examined how technology has changed the work of the BBC, and provided it with new opportunities. In order to keep people informed, the BBC has to go beyond its normal channels, the report says:

The changes in the news industry mean that there are gaps in the coverage of our country and they are growing. At the same time, power is devolving. The BBC is going to have to make the most of digital services, alongside radio and television, to ensure people have the information they need where they live and work.

The BBC plans to ask local news sites for their proposals until September, with a full report on the project expected in November.

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