WHY HYPERLOCAL NEWS MATTERS

By Aimee Winkfield

Rose Hill News is a free hyperlocal newspaper that gets delivered to 3000+ homes and businesses in and around the Rose Hill estate. The news gets written by local residents who volunteer their time to write about what goes on in their community.

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Some of the volunteers who write the newspaper
Although the Oxford Mail also covers Rose Hill from time to time, it’s not guaranteed that all news from Rose Hill or even smaller news stories will get published in the paper. This is understandable because of the large area the Oxford Mail has to cover for its daily publication. That’s what makes hyperlocal newspapers so important for community engagement, because they pick up and cover the majority of news happening right on the doorstep of its readership.

Community engagement

Hyperlocal newspapers cover a diverse range of news stories and content all directly linked to a specific community.

Peter Wilkinson, who lives in Rose Hill spoke of the importance of hyperlocal news:

“Local and national media have their place, but people like to know what’s happening in their immediate locality. I think community newspapers are very important, by informing and sharing knowledge and news they’re vital to bringing a community together in a cohesive way.”

Hasena Ali, another local resident added:
 
“It gets sent to all of the houses in Rose Hill and I know there’s probably an older generation who can’t go on the internet and see what’s going on or walk around and get involved, so it’s good to have a newspaper.”

 

The National Union Of Journalists recently did an interview (below) for their “local news matters” campaign and spoke to some volunteer hyperlocal news writers.

The interview highlighted key points about the importance of hyperlocal news and community engagement.

Val Churchill, an Oxford City Council Locality Support Officer, helped to ensure the survival of Rose Hill News and said in the interview:

Processed with Snapseed. “I think people wait for Rose Hill News to come through the door, it tells them what’s going on in their own community, it’s part of them. I’ve spoken to a lot of people when they thought that the Rose Hill News was going and that it wasn’t going to be replaced and they were really really upset, it’s a well valued resource for Rose Hill.” (2:11-2:34)

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Terry Kirkby, the Chairman of the Rose Hill Tenants and Residents Association agreed that local news matters:

“It’s of paramount importance that we have a local newspaper, it’s one way of ensuring that the community are aware of what’s going on, what they can take part in, how we can all come together.” (1:17-1:33)

An editors perspective

From working as a hyperlocal news editor, I’ve witnessed first-hand how important the continued production of hyperlocal news is for community engagement.

One of my relatives always looked forward to me turning up with the latest copy of RHN. Unfortunately, she passed away last year but I’ll always remember what she used to tell me when I handed over those copies:

“Can’t you start one up around here? There’s nothing apart from a one-page newsletter, other than that I don’t know what’s going on.”

She was elderly and house-bound for many years because of an illness and day to day life could be incredibly lonely. She always wanted to know what was going on in her local community, but all that was available was a church newsletter to briefly inform her.

Those memories will always inspire me to root for and champion the creation of hyperlocal newspapers, much like Rose Hill News, because they matter to people. Especially to those who want to stay engaged, but can’t venture out to participate in community life. I’ve heard it through passing comments, or in interviews with older residents like Florence Tomlinson, who turned 100 last year,  or the late George Cooper, who recognized the importance of staying connected within the community.

Sarah Edwards, the group editor of 13 community newspapers said her readers really value the production of hyperlocal news:

“Our communities LOVE our papers!

We report on the things that really matter to people who live in our communities. It’s vital that we keep local news services alive in the form of either printed papers or online news services.

I think hyperlocal/community media is the future of the industry. While other local papers have been closing- we have been launching new ones.”

And with other hyperlocal newspapers launching and sustaining themselves across the UK, we must work together as a community to maintain hyperlocal news production. It is our civic duty to ensure that residents are not left behind and that communities have a chance to represent themselves and stay engaged with each other.

Community engagement is so important to civic life and the volunteers who produce the news have an unique opportunity to create and maintain the bridge between people of all ages in their own communities.

Do you think hyperlocal news matters? Comment below!

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4 comments

  1. I definitely believe that hyperlocal news matter as they create a link between residents within a community. Without a local community newspaper, who would report on events and happenings within Rose Hill for example? Regional or national newspapers tend to focus on topics and issues that are of concern for a wider audience in an attempt to sell more newspapers whilst attracting advertisers and simultaneously increasing own profit. They have to do this in order to survive in an increasingly competitive market place where news values in some cases seem to be replaced by a desire to only strive towards financial gain. In comparison, Rose Hill News volunteers donate their time and energy to produce news stories which are relevant to both themselves and the community in which they are living, which makes the news production process more authentic.
    These people do it because they feel inclined to do so, they do it because they want to make a difference and they do it to reach out to friends and neighbours who might not be able to access the internet to update themselves about recent events in Rose Hill. As such, Rose Hill News and other hyperlocal news outlets provide a platform for civic engagement within citizens’ own community. Anyone can make a difference, regardless of their age, gender, level of education, nationality and so forth – what matters is the willingness and determination to engage with community journalism.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Matilda, I’m glad that you think what we do is “authentic”, that really is a compliment that means a lot.

      Here at Rose Hill News, the residents themselves write and produce the news content which not only benefits them socially, but gives them further opportunities in terms of gaining experience for future employment.

      They certainly do it because they want to make a difference and connect with people and groups across their community to make sure residents stay engaged and feel part of a community.

      Here’s a link to further resources from Oxford NUJ. Like the video in this blog post, the page can link you directly to more video and posts about local journalism: https://oxfordnuj.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/local-news-matters-the-videos/

      Keep supporting local newspapers Matilda, it’s vital that those outside of the community as well as inside support our project so we can continue to produce hyperlocal news.

      If you need anymore information, do not hesitate to contact us on social media. Or if you live locally and want to come and see what we do for yourself then you can arrange a visit 🙂 I would urge you to seek out your local newspaper (if you have one) or start up your own community blog!

      All the best,

      Aimee.

      Like

  2. Hi I just wanted to say I really appreciated this post! I think news like this site and paper you have is really important, and definitely not something we want to lose. It was really lovely to look through all the examples you gave both of events going on in the area but also how they were covered by Rose Hill news, it was great to see such an active community with such a strong sense of the term. Really lovely to see engagement in communities like this, so I definitely agree with your points, and hope Rose Hill News carries on its good work, and manages to stay so key to the community!

    Briony x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Briony, thanks for your comment! I’m glad you enjoyed looking at the photos of some of the news we have covered in Rose Hill. What we cover is really diverse which is great for us and our readers. The community is very active and there is always something going on in Rose Hill, which makes it so important for us to get out there and cover it so others can see what’s going on, or like I mentioned its great for older residents to read our papers and engage with what;s going on in their community

      We will definitely carry on, and I encourage you to check out your local community newspapers! .

      Have a nice day and thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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