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.
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.”
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:
“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)
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!