‘Hyperlocal’ websites

Something for your bookmarks list: The ‘Openly Local’ website seeks to aggregate information from websites that cover local issues -either local authority sites or the emerging ‘hyperlocal’ sites. They’ve now extended their coverage to the Irish Republic as well (though they need a nudge to change their ‘Hyperlocal websites in the UK’ heading)

I’m not sure whether my own perception on this question of ‘hyperlocality’ is correct. In England, citizenmanaged ‘hyperlocal’ community sites are – at least in part – a response to the near-total collapse of local newspapers in some areas as reported in this Guardian article a while ago.In the Irish Republic, this is less of an issue as the local press doesn’t seem to have consolidated to the extent that newspaper groups in England (and increasingly, in Northern Ireland) have. On my regular visits to Mayo, for instance, The Western People has – for as long as I remember – operated almost like a blog with local stringers (“Erris Echoes”) who are either voluntary or very cheap to run. It’s embedded in the local community in a way that English papers just aren’t any more and appears to be still capable of investing in local content in a way that many English locals aren’t.

In England, there’s been a growing controversy over the past couple of years about local authorities stepping into the space that commercial papers aren’t filling any more – pubishing their own news (with all of the attendant worries about impartiality) and providing a space for community notices (thereby damaging advertising revenues for local papers). My own view (lightly held) is that newspaper proprietors should stop whining and start investing in journalism again (as the Western People shows, it’s possible to run a commercially viable local paper). But the whole question of ‘hyperlocal’ sites is partly neutralising the problem.

Are there any good Hyperlocal sites in Northern Ireland yet?

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