Debates about plurality at the local and regional level are often marginalised. And yet, the direction of travel at local level – towards greater consolidation of media enterprises, relaxation of ownership regimes, lack of support for small media initiatives – has arguably been more severe and more debilitating for democracy than at national level. It is at the local level that the vast majority of citizens interact with hospitals, schools, transport systems, the police and elected council representatives.
The decline of local media – including, in some towns, the wholesale disappearance of local newspapers – leaves local citizens starved of information and local institutions less accountable. This project will address the problem from both a policy-making and empirical perspective. It will review the changes to media ownership rules at local level and ask what policy initiatives might address the growing democratic deficit; and will look nature, efficacy, and democratic potential of local online initiatives; and will look to provide ideas for policy initiatives that might invigorate online journalism and therefore provide a real alternative for otherwise democratically marginalised local communities.
We’ll be adding to this page as the project progresses, but in the meantime, here are some links to relevant local and regional digital initiatives in the UK.
- Talk About Local: a UK-based organisation specialising in training people in their communities ‘to find their own online voice for free’
- NESTA: Destination Local: Local projects jointly funded by Nesta, the Welsh Government and Creative Scotland
- mySociety: a project of UK Citizens Online Democracy (UKCOD), running sites such as FixMyStreet, WhatDoTheyKnow, TheyWorkForYou and WritetoThem
- OpenlyLocal directory of hyperlocal sites: this useful list is hosted by OpenlyLocal, a project aiming to make local government more transparent
- Carnegie Trust Neighbourhood News: a competition supporting local news reporting through five partner projects
- Media Trust Local 360 Network: a UK-wide community of ‘citizen journalists, community reporters and local storytellers’
- Cardiff University Centre for Community Journalism: a Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC) project building a network of hyperlocal and community journalism in Wales