Yesterday I was fortunate to attend the Local Government Camp in Birmingham – an unconference for people working in councils across the UK. It was a thoughtful and idea-provoking event which covered issues which I shall be taking a closer look at for The Guardian’s Local Government Network in the near future.
But there were also a few stories which came out of the day which had more of a journalism/media/hyperlocal bent which I’ll share here;
* Interesting to discover that The Met has just held it’s first webchat on a hyperlocal website. Talk About Local’s William Perrin told the session on hyperlocal publishing how he’d been approached to host the chat via his own website www.kingscrossenvironment.com.
On the site he explains:
“My site based in a once crime-ridden area is firmly pro police (two of our contributors have been on the Safer Neighbourhood Panel) and our commenters are of the non rabid variety. So for the police it was very much a carefully managed innovation risk.”
Conversations included discussion about the enforcement of 20mph zones, support for rough sleepers and youth provision.
Fostering a close working relationship between police forces and bloggers/independent publishers is something that I’ve seen in other towns and cities across the country not least in Manchester where @AmandaComms is often leading the agenda so it’s good to see the capital’s law enforcers also giving some validity to the importance of the hyperlocal/local/community sites. If your local Force is doing something similar, please feel free to share details via the comments below.
* Filming in council meetings. Following hot on the heels of the case of the blogger arrested for filming in the council chamber, Philip John of LichfieldLive hosted a debate on the for and against of such activity and has produced this interesting visualisation.
The subject of council newspapers also arose and it was interesting to hear viewpoints from the other side of the fence. From what I heard, the idea us journos have that the main benefit of these has more to do with propaganda and attempting to control the message than finance seems to hold true……you can listen to the discussion on John Popham’s video here.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a8oqA0qY54&w=560&h=349] At the risk of opening up a hornet’s nest of a debate here, I am still left wondering if the time is right for a wider discussion about the issue of value-for-money advertising spending by councils and the cost-effectiveness of how that spending on important public information, for example public notices, is distributed in light of all the new tools and technologies available?
Away from #localgovcamp
For those that subscribe to it, it will be apparent that I have ceased publishing on The MancunianWay blog. I’ve left it a few months before taking the final deletion step to see whether it was the right thing to do and will be switching it off fully in a week or so. There’s two reasons for this decision – 1. now I’m a regular writer for The Northerner blog, the sort of stuff I used to post about Manchester and the city’s digital community (and now about MediaCityUK) will hopefully reach more people interested in those topics posted via The Guardian blog and 2. I’ve imported all the archive material into this blog so it’s easily retrievable here via the tag cloud.
And on that subject….I shall be blogging (for The Northerner) from The Impact of Media City conference tomorrow, the hashtag is #mediacityuk and the full agenda can be found here.