The success of volunteer-driven local media depends on a platform for marginalised voices and good human relations, delegates were told.
Speaking at news:rewired’s local media breakout session, the Times’ web development editor (business), Joanna Geary, said that a hyperlocal website needs to give its volunteers a platform but also provide them with support.
“Local media is about giving voice to communities – engaging with people who don’t have a voice in mainstream media,” she said.
But offering volunteer bloggers a platform is not enough, web editors also need to provide their unpaid writers with guidance, help and a human connection.
At news:rewired, Geary discussed her experience setting up the Birmingham Post’s local blog roster. The blogs provide residents with a platform to express views and cover events not given time in traditional mainstream media.
Guardian Local launch editor, Sarah Hartley, also spoke at the local media session. She highlighted that, while blogs used to be uniquely used by “techie geeks”, they now fill an important role in the lives of ordinary individuals in smaller communities.
The Lichfield Blog‘s Philip John also highlighted the importance of local, community-focused blogs. In Lichfield, newspapers are closing and blogs can spring up to fill the void in local reporting, he said.