News and views from north Bristol's urban village

Friday, 17 July 2009

Local Media: Sleep at Your Peril

Reports of the death of Trym Tales have, like those of Mark Twain's alleged demise in 1897, been greatly exaggerated. A combination of busyness and a family holiday to the English Riviera's spotty cousin (Exmouth) have resulted in the longest publishing gap in the history of Trym Tales since its inception in August 2006.

Barely had Westbury on Trym's leading online independent media outlet started its brief summer lull when, somnambulant on the beach under a Kagool, it found itself facing the launch of a rival local media site serving the news-hungry residents of BS9.

Westbury on Trym People is the local expression of a major initiative in locally-driven media by Northcliffe Media, who bring us the Evening Post and Western Daily News as well as the This is Bristol site. Building on their history of delivering local media (Northcliffe currently publish over 150 separate local papers and magazines in the UK in addition to several hundred web sites), Northcliffe have gone "hyper-local" in a big way through their creation of 23 (soon to be 33) local sites with "People" in the title across the west of England and South Wales.

This is Bristol journalist Marc Cooper, one of the key contributors to the new local sites, explains via his blog that "the most striking thing about hyper local websites is that the usual top down delivery of news ... is gone. What appears top of hyper local websites is whatever the people who use them are talking about. " Northcliffe describes the sites - which are being piloted in the southwest - as "combining news writing with social networking", as all stories on the site are generated by local users rather than traditional journalists. Let's throw the word wiki in as well, to make the description complete.

The arrival of Westbury on Trym People and its sister sites is a local outworking of a global revolution currently underway in traditional print-based media
previously noted in this blog. Locally, this revolution, largely influenced by the Internet, has seen 45 journalism jobs cut at the Evening Post this year.

One of those made redundant in the recent cuts is Chris Brown who has responded by launching in June his own Bristol-wide news site
Bristol 24-7, a site which more obviously compares with This is Bristol than with a hyper-local site such as Westbury on Trym People, or indeed with Trym Tales.

While we're on the subject of local media,
Guide2Bristol has also been quietly establishing itself as an additional source of local news and features. I have also been known to contribute the occasional blog post to the site.

Wired Bristol is yet another new media source for the city. Can't really say much about it except that it looks a little bare at present and that the link to its RSS feed does not work.

In summary, the future of online media is up in the air, Bristol has some new news sites and Trym Tales (which will seek to actively participate in Westbury on Trym People) will continue to produce regular news and views from north Bristol's urban village, without taking itself too seriously.

Thank you very much and best wishes to all newcomers.

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