Why did we do this?
In the age of the internet, we can immediately find out about what’s happening anywhere in the world. However, research undertaken by Ofcom shows that what most people want to know is what’s happening in their local area. Since local newspapers are currently being challenged by tough business conditions, this is becoming increasingly difficult.
Over the past few years, the UK has seen many launches of online local media services attempting to deliver increasingly local – ‘hyperlocal’ – content. This ranges from TV broadcasters (such as ITV Local) and newspaper publishers (Northcliffes’s ‘Local People’) to bloggers writing about local neighbourhoods or even streets.
However, little evidence was publicly available on their success or failure, or what conditions and business models could support a thriving hyperlocal media sector in the UK.
What did we do?
Nesta’s Destination Local programme aimed to provide a greater understanding of this budding new market and to stimulate a 21st-century ecosystem that encourages a range of high quality hyperlocal media services around the UK.
Working with the Technology Strategy Board, the Welsh Government, Creative Scotland and other industry partners, we funded innovative new projects that looked at what the next generation of hyperlocal media services could be. For example:
- HypARlocal is an augmented reality app that allows you to view geo-located content about buildings and places of interest, using a smartphone or tablet. For instance, the latest blog post about antisocial behaviour, a notice about the closure of a library or a review of the local café can been viewed through the app as you walk along the street.
- Kentishtowner is a hyperlocal website dedicated to cultural affairs in and around Kentish Town, North London. With 75,000 monthly readers, it has also launched a print version. This is stocked in over 50 outlets and, through The Young Kentishtowner Foundation, supports disadvantaged local young people who have an interest in online publishing.
- In Wales, community newspaper Papur Dre (translated as The Town Paper) is working with television company Cwmni Da and further education college Coleg Menai to create a Welsh-language mobile and digital service providing hyperlocal news and information to the community. This unique partnership has proved very successful.
Regulators and policymakers recognise that local media is a useful service, but also one that can build communities and deliver public value.
In order to create a more informed and successful sector, we also invested in research that both highlighted the demand for hyperlocal media and explored the ways technology can be used to respond to this – for example, how mobile technology can be used to deliver highly localised information services to niche audiences. Our aim was to help practitioners understand an emerging new market and make the most of it.
Our Destination Local programme followed on from our Here and Now report – the first and most comprehensive review of the emerging hyperlocal media sector in the UK.