Media Trust launches Newsnet site and network

The Media Trust have launched their site for Newsnet, which aims to be “a UK-wide hub of community reporters, citizen journalists and local storytellers, providing them with the tools and skills to get more from their local news, as well as learning from the experiences of others.

“The aim is to improve the quality and reach of these stories, through increased sharing amongst communities and distribution to mainstream media outlets, including Community Channel’s UK360 magazine show, which will broadcast some of the best community news stories”.

I’ve written lots before about Newsnet, in which Big Lottery Fund (BIG) has invested £1.89 million in support of People Powered Change. I’ve embeded above the launch video featuring Media Trust Marketing director Gavin Sheppard, and there will shortly be a news story on the site with more detail. There are how to guides, inspiring ideas, a forum and blogs, and a members directory.

Gavin says: “In a world where the news agenda is increasingly driven by individuals and where people powered change has become a reality in communities throughout the world, it’s inspirational to hear of the many individuals in the UK using citizen journalism to effect positive change at home, and often uncovering stories that are not only important in their own area but also have national significance.

“With newsnet our approach is focused on collaboration with established citizen journalists, as well as identifying others who could benefit from the resources newsnet offers. It is our aim that communities come together, share learnings and receive support, in order to increase their impact and change their world. We want to make citizen journalism accessible to all.”

As you can see from my previous posts, I’ve quizzed Gavin in the past about how Newsnet will feature content from local bloggers in ways that work for them, and also how far Media Trust will collaborate with others. I sense there may be a lot of scope now that the site is up, and (disclosure here) I’m talking to Gavin about how some social reporting and event organising might help.

Now the site is live, with forums, there’s a chance for others in the hyperlocal field to explore possibilities.

The BBC has also announced roll-out of its community reporters scheme “which aims to get those keen to work in the industry to bring forward local stories in the lead up to the 2012 Olympics, to two more UK cities this year.

“The scheme is one of three “legacy projects” being run by the broadcaster in light of the London games, which also include London Apprentices and the BBC 2012 Work Experience project.

“The community reporters project, which is centred around 2012 and the run-up to the Olympic games, aims to work with people “who are passionate about news”, offering mentors to each successful reporter and six weeks of one-day training before a production week where they get the chance to pitch to editors for broadcast on television, radio and online publication”. Hat-tip to John Popham for the link.

As another example, in London the Archant group is going to be putting a lot of effort behind its iWitness24 project for citizen journalists, with scope for integration with its London24 online platform and 19 papers across the capital. It would be interesting to see if there are opportunities there for local bloggers.

So … the hyperlocal scene is warming up, with NESTA starting research into what the future may be like in this space, and next month inviting funding bids for pilots, as I reported here. Discussion about the NESTA research moved across to Our Society, where I was able to provide a update following a very helpful chat with Jon Kingsbury: see comment here.

There’s a lot of issues bubbling up around these initiatives. While I’m excited by the opportunities they offer to people to create their own content on blogs and other DIY platforms, or in association with media organisations, the big question for me it what reporting approaches are helpful (or not) to the development of healthy, resilient, sustainable communities (choose your criteria). That’s something at the forefront of another more modest social reporting experiment run by Transition Towns Network, which I highlighted earlier.

My friend Ed Mitchell has just posted a report on the very impressive three-year web project for the network, which cost a modest £50,000.

I wonder if it would be possible to get all of these different media and reporting interests, together the varied community developer/builders I’ve been reporting over on for BIG, into the same conference to figure out how they could do good for communities as well as media. I floated the idea an unconference that might be supported by NESTA and others. Anyone up for that?

One comment

  • david wilcox
    February 2, 2012 - 8:21 am | Permalink

    Ed Mitchell of Transition Network send me this comment, but I’m having trouble with spam filters, so had to repost

    From Ed:
    It’s great that all this stuff is going on; hurray 🙂

    We think that the keys to this sort of ‘community’ activity, which would really drive this are how to share power and decision making, and how not to just get people to use the platform. If you know what I mean.

    And that takes a lot of work and letting go of the power we have as owners of the platform. Which isn’t just a few meetings and handing out some kudos and prizes here and there.

    Also for us, we found that a vital component to the social reporting project (which has gone very well and the reporters are now running their own project entirely independently) is CONTEXT.

    What is the context for these various experiments, beyond journalism? *Why* would people do it? What will they get out of it?

    Asking that question will give the projects their best chance of long term survival beyond the initial flurries of enthusiasm.

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