Listen to us– creating thousands of local conversations at low cost William Perrin www.kingscrossenvironment.com www.kingscrossaccess.com www.kingscrosstv.org www.a43safety.com www.teamcally.org.uk Disclaimer - I am a civil servant in my day job – these views are expressed in a personal capacity
People used to burn cars, have sex, take drugs and tip rubbish outside my house in Kings Cross
I got involved in loads of local campaigns to help fix the problems
In 2006 I set up a website to pull the campaigns together and created a new local network
Today, 200 people a day come to my site, my community videos have had 16,000 views, 120 subscribe to a daily email.
Costs £10 a month cash and my volunteers’ time
The problems have gone away
Ultra local media galvanises campaigns You talk about your neighbourhood – which is what people are directly interested in Direct local voice without editorial The more ultra-local the better Strong on accountability of officials and dog sh*t agenda Traditional ‘local media’ based on economic distribution– not neighbourhoods Local broadcast media weak on local democracy – too expensive and averaged across huge areas Web makes ultra local media viable for the first time
It takes about ten minutes to set up a website and costs £10 a month It is much cheaper and quicker than running off a community newsletter There are thousands of handmade community newsletters If you can use email you can set up a website Six authors write for me in Kings Cross – wildly different ages, genders, ethnicities, interests aged up to 60 Only had to train one of them face to face (took 20 minutes) the others picked it up from an explanatory email It’s really easy now but not many people know how easy
Commercial local media is in big trouble Economic model very weak before economic downturn End to commercial local TV news Print market grim Councils are setting up own expensive newspapers – they need media to do well in their performance assessments Bad news for local democracy and pressure for better services Cost cutting and consolidation means less local knowledge The smaller the target population the less economic it is
Thousands of activists don’t need to be paid to write Community activists by definition all have something to say Dozens of superb ultra local campaigning sites see www.groupsnearyou.com Majority of activists are already digital but on email Some grass roots fan groups such as football already fully on web in discussion forums Web provides a publishing outlet for the first time for small campaigns This isn’t ‘journalism’ – it is just writing about local stuff How can we unlock community voice online?
Teach a man to fish…… It is cheap and easy to train people using existing services Use commercial blogging services – free and simple to use – Typepad.com, Wordpress.com. Blogger.com Use established public service training £50 - an hour’s training for one person or a class of twenty (UKOnline) or FE college classes (£20 per head) Activists not hard to find but requires effort - ask Councillors, MPs, local papers etc CLG ‘Digital Mentors’ could create initial network £100k enough to saturate several large cities T raining thousands to set up sites is now viable
Link sites through informal network Many issues common – advantage in linking sites up with light touch Superimposed brand like English Tourist Board ratings, Michelin Stars – gives a common link but provides airgap in case the content not amenable Rating could encourage progression in features, issues etc Reporting system for abuses, extremism – leading to removal of brand Provide simple templates at blogging services Support forum and wiki to help sites help themselves Cheap, self maintaining and grass roots driven
Warning – there is no profit in this No money in this – neither for ‘writers’ nor ‘publishers’ Advertising markets too small Only model is altruistic Has to be volunteer driven in a way that helps volunteers campaign Some value in association with brand But very cheap compared to setting up a local freesheet Creates self perpetuating local voice, rather than one shot intervention But it’s much cheaper than doing anything in traditional media
Listen to us Transform local voice in UK by creating ultra local outlets on a human scale Do it now before local media vanishes Very low cost compared to alternatives such as freesheets or an episode of Despatches Low cost and using existing services drives proposal Partnerships with public service inclined partners might work – 4IP, Scott Trust, RSA etc Some councils are doing this on small scale (B’ham) Are you interested in helping me work this up?