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  • 1. Concept document Josh halliday SR2 BLOG h your news a community-run news site for sunderland sr2 Proposed concept mission statement My proposed concept is a community-run ‘hyperlocal’* news website, SR2 BLOG will bring together like-minded engaged dedicated to the SR2 geographical area of Sunderland. citizens whose concerns and interests can be effectively expressed on a collaborative website. The aim is for a so- Such hyperlocal news sites are springing up around (and outside) cial news site; users (meaning publishers and visitors) the United Kingdom, increasing access to the necessary technol- contributing to a greater knowledge of Sunderland SR2, ogy and a zooming-out of mainstream local news the likely catalysts. it’s residents, events, businesses and prospects. BBC’s regional coverage, for example, is limited to a half-hour daily bulletin taking news from Tyneside, Teesside, Wearside, North York- shire and Cumbria - unless extraordinary, SR2 news will not feature. talks over a hyperlocal consortia proposed by Ofcom and Digital Britain Similarly, SR2’s most local news provider, the Sunderland Echo, cov- Report. Accounting for the engaged nature of the contributors and audi- ers an approximate 25 miles square radius, so leaving ‘hyperlocal’ ence, the news of these hyperlocal sites tends to be politically focused areas like SR2 in something of a news deficit. That is the vacuum with most emphasis on the relevant local authority. Typical news items hyperlocal news sites like SR2 BLOG are beginning to inhabit. include planning applications to the Council, residents’ concerns, light- er events pieces and aggregated coverage from other news sources. Recognising the significant potential for hyperlocal networks of news, *What is hyperlocal news? Hyperlocal news is information relevant big mainstream media have arrived on the scene. Trinity Mirror, Associ- to small communities and neighbourhoods (the postcode SR2, for ex- ated Northcliffe, the Guardian are all parents of a network of hyperlocal ample) often overlooked by mainstream media for reasons I will outline news sites, while ITN, Guardian Media Group and Johnston Press are in (in Why?). Where? online centres in sunderland SR2 BLOG will publish news happening inside the SR2 postcode district of Sunderland. That’s roughly 4 miles square, in comparison to the Sunderland Echo patch (roughly 25 miles square.) Specifically, the wards and neighbourhoods SR2 BLOG will cover are: - Hendon - Ashbrooke - Grangetown - Hillview - Ryhope - Thornhill How? SR2 BLOG will be initially entirely funded by advertising. relevant. Addiply is fast becoming the advertisement host of choice for similar news sites inside and outside the UK. Advertisers will be businesses and organisations based in and around Sunderland SR2. Typical advertisers include: Student Diggs student Advertising will initially cost £2 per month. The rationale behind this accomodation provider, Pizzarama takeaway, Vaughan Hart financial is that SR2 BLOG has no pretences about the quantity of views advisers, The Rosedene pub and restaurant, Bodyline fitness centre, it will get week-to-week - it’s an experimental venture not striving for Chinese Kitchen restaurant and The Wild Bunch florist - all based in sensational headlines in search engines, but a loyal userbase, and that Sunderland SR2. SR2 BLOG will use three-click advertising inter- takes time. mediary, Addiply, to ensure advertisements site visitors see are directly
  • 2. How? continued... Advertising costs £2 per month, specifically, for a reason too. Here’s the one in the UK hyperlocal space is yet making a viable living from such maths: One year’s GoDaddy hosting (and domain ownership) of SR2 a website. BLOG costs $67.58, that’s £40.59, give or take fluctuations in in- flation rates. For the foreseeable future, there will be four advertising Over the next 12 months, SR2 BLOG will be an unsalaried part- places on SR2 BLOG, each costing the advertiser £2 per month; time post for me, and have voluntary status for others wanting to con- should four advertisements be placed for 12 months, that’s £96 in- tribute. For me, SR2 BLOG will reach ‘critical mass’ when there is come - paying off the first year of hosting (10/2009 - 10/2010), the at least four advertisers (advertising for a minimum of £2 per month) second year of hosting (10/2010 - 10/2011) and with £14.88 left to and two regular contributors. At that time, I will factor in the idea of cover overheads (christmas cards, etc.) paying a flat rate for (minimum of ) 300-word contributions. This rate would likely start at £5 for 300-word pieces. The idea is that SR2 BLOG will first be able to cover it’s costs, no why now? In October 2009, the Guardian announced the launch of their foray of its news and a news vacuum in some neighbourhoods. into local journalism with the project, Guardian Local, which will be a ‘small-scale experimental approach to local newsgathering,’ according It is also relevant here to look at one of the likely direction of Internet to Director of Digital Content for Guardian News & Media, Emily Bell. news publishing. Analysing a breakdown of his hyperlocal news site’s Sarah Hartley, Guardian Local’s launch editor, said, ‘While researching content, NEast Philly’s Christopher Wink (www.neastphilly.com) noted, developments at the grassroots of community journalism, I’ve been ‘We know there is not one solution for this sustainable news conver- impressed by the range and depth of coverage from local websites sation, but participatory journalism sure seems like a big part of it to and blogs. This experimental project reflects both the shifting nature me.’ With the help of a Knight Foundation News Challenge grant, NEast of journalism and the reality on the ground’ and has said that the UK, Philly plans to create a ‘sustainable network of professionally trained specifically, is currently experiencing a ‘fast-changing local news land- citizen journalists to cover their own neighbourhood civic meetings scape.’ This ‘Big Media’ move into hyperlocal journalism follows on the and local events.’ Wink estimates around 40% of NEast Philly is cur- back of hyperlocal news websites launched by Newsquest, Associated rently aggregated coverage, which he describes as ‘Making sure your Northcliffe, Johnston Press and Trinity Mirror. readers know every link, story and conversation online that is relevant to your coverage[...]It will certainly become a big part of successful Research by Rachel Davis Mersey, published in Journalism Practice 3: news-gatherers in the future.’ Wink’s Philadelphia project lends itself 3, titled ‘Online News Users’ Sense of Community’, asserted that local to what new media commentator, Jeff Jarvis, calls ‘networked journal- news providers’ next move should be to explore the potential of the ism’ - ‘professionals and amateurs working together to get the real Web. ‘The challenge to local newspapers in light of dwindling circula- story, linking to each other across brands and old boundaries to share tion figures nationwide is to stay geographically relevant,’ Mersey said, facts, questions, answers, ideas, perspectives. It recognises the com- adding, ‘Focusing on the potential of the Web to serve geographic com- plex relationship that will make news. And it focusses on the process munities should be the driver of future industry innovations and in- more than the product.’ dustry-oriented research[...]With nearly limitless space constraints, the Web can offer newspapers the opportunity to provide expansive The future of online news - as Jarvis, Wink and many others see it - will coverage of geographic areas without increased material and printing be more of a conversation between publisher and ‘audience’. In We, The costs. This geographic focus can be amplified with additional report- Media (2004), Dan Gillmor, purported, ‘Big media[...]treated the news ing, citizen-produced news, formal or informal weblogs, and additional as a lecture. We told you what the news was[...]Tomorrow’s news re- etools.’ From panel discussions at the 2009 Society of Editors Confer- porting will be more of a conversation, or a seminar...’ ence, lecturer in Journalism at University of Sunderland, Julie Bradford, similarly recorded, ‘All panel say hyperlocal is way forward.’ East (and South) Sunderland, the area encompassing Sunderland SR2 and SR2 BLOG, is anecdotally the most vibrant region on Wear- Whether the aforementioned ‘Big Media’ embarked on hyperlocal news side, with more community-focussed events, Area Forums and active sites excited at the opportunity and potential of such projects, or sim- (and growing) Residents’ Associations. There has never before been ply to out-resource and square-off any independent start-ups is a moot a news-oriented website for Sunderland SR2; everything looking for- point. The point stands that dwindling resources - staff, time and ward, now seems an opportune time to ride both waves and aim for money - at local and regional newspapers is likely to have an a respected news site that works hand-in-hand with its visitors to 02. averse effect on how well-informed the constituents are contribute to a greater knowledge of Sunderland SR2, it’s residents, they affect to inform - as if local and regional news has events, businesses and prospects. become zoomed-out, contributing to a de-localisation
  • 3. What News? (and where from?) There are five common news sources for the news of a hyperlocal web- EXAMPLES OF NEWS FEATURED site. These are: - Minutes from council planning meetings (published in a darkened corner of the council website); - Emergency service voicebank; - Aggregated relevant coverage from other news sources; - Diary events; - Matters that arise during Residents’ Association meetings, police neighbourhood engagement meetings etc. news sources news sources 23/10/09 - 12/12/09 predicted for 2010 green: diary events green: diary events orange: aggregated coverage orange: aggregated coverage red: voicebanks red: voicebanks light blue: council documents light blue: council documents dark blue: off-diary dark blue: off-diary grey: content of community meetings grey: content of community meetings 03.
  • 4. expected growth All research considered, I have formulated the following expectation whole AMA network of ‘over 2000 community websites’, in the last six for the user growth of SR2 Blog 12 months from its launch in October months there have been over 20,000 published articles, 10% of which 2009. were by users - rather than site editors - and around 1000 comments. Calculating the percentage of hypothetical Sunderland-based users I took this as a useful indicator of the level of visitor contribution SR2 of SunderlandEcho.com, getting news about Sunderland and the sur- BLOG can expect, though there are a few variables to consider: the rounding region, I found that approximately 4% of the population of architecture of SR2 BLOG is considerably different to that of any Sunderland (source: 2001 census) visit SunderlandEcho.com every day of the aforementioned Johnston Press websites, something that is (source: ABCEs Jan-Jun 2009) - presuming those visitors are based in likely to subconciously feature in the mind of the visitor; the tone of Sunderland. Anecdotally, the football news on SunderlandEcho.com is SR2 BLOG is also considerably different to that of the Johnston consistently the most visited topic and, coupling the increased Search Press websites - there is, for example, a call-to-action at the foot of Engine-ready nature of publishing and heightening profile of Sunder- every post in an attempt to get visitors to sign up as publishers; simi- land AFC, the 4% figure is likely to be in the sense that users could be larly, SR2 BLOG also has an ‘About’ page, shedding light into the landing on SunderlandEcho.com from anywhere in the world. people, principles and rationale behind the blog; it may also be fair to say, though I’m aware of no research to substantiate the claims, that I thought it would be useful to make these calculations to try gauge visitors are more likely to interact with, and feel more ownership over, some idea of the proportion of local people reading geographically-rel- a website that is more geographically-relevant to them, fostering a evant online news. Qualitative research into the field can be found with greater sense of community. the Ofcom report on page 06. Variables I took into account when approximating expected user The approximate population of Sunderland SR2, going on figures from growth for the forthcoming 12 months: anecdotal approximations on the 2001 census, is 30,000-35,000. the level of interaction on seven individual local newspaper websites; Hendon - 10,377 SunderlandEcho.com ABCEs from Jan-Jun 2009; approximate percent- Ryhope - 13,852 age of Sunderland population reading geographically-relevant news No figures for Ashbrooke, Grangetown, Thornhill, or Hillview. online; national standing of Sunderland and broadband-connected Approximate population of Sunderland SR2: 30,000-35,000 households; push on connecting more people to the Internet by Sun- derland City Council; relatively large number of electronic village halls/ Sarah Booker, digital editor of six Johnston Press local newspaper web- UK online centres in Sunderland SR2; Google forecasting a five year high sites, told me there was no analysis tool for measuring exact number in searches for ‘Sunderland news’ in 2010; statistics on popularity of of visitors that comment on articles compared with visitors who don’t the various social networking sites on which SR2 BLOG has a comment on articles. From approximation though, Sarah said across presence. any one of her six websites, fewer than 1% of visitors will place a comment, while the vast majority of the -1% that do comment will Three months: ~800 page impressions /month be loyal commenters (‘conversational commenters’), rather than once- in-a-while commenters. Similarly, Richard Kendall, web editor of John- Six months: ~2200 page impressions/month ston Press title The Peterborough Evening Telegraph, said there was currently no way of quantifying such data, though he did reveal that Nine months: ~4000 page impressions/month (PET website) PeterboroughToday.co.uk now gets approaching 3,000 comments a month and, according to ABCE figures from Jan-Jun 2009, 12 months: ~6000 page impressions/month gets a monthly average of 162,149 Unique User/Browsers, equating to roughly 1.85% of visitors leaving comments. FACILITATING growth I also spoke to James Rudd, website editor for a hyperlocal news site Affordable practicable tasks for facilitating growth and presence of concentrated on approximately 10,000 households in Towcester, and SR2 BLOG include: part of a nationwide network of such sites, found at AboutMyArea. - Christmas cards to all businesses and schools within co.uk. In the week 30/11 to 06/12, James’ Towcester news site (two Sunderland SR2; years, nine months old) recorded 10,267 visits and two comments. - Involvement at UK Online Centres and Electronic Village James pointed out that in order to comment on his site, the visitor Halls, including offering training/help; must be a registered member of AMA and felt it necessary to add that - Involvement at Area Forums, including workshops on re they ‘tend not to run anything very controversial’. He also added quest; that he doesn’t want loads of comments as ‘it would become - Syndicate content to Spark FM and About My Area. 04. like a forum and get hijacked and abused’. Across the
  • 5. WHO? Typical visitor Key figures on Ward statistics and statistics for the various presences Age: 30-60 of SR2 BLOG online (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, for example) can Household income: £25,000-£40,000 be found in Appendix 1. Due to having a permanent presence on the Socio-economic classification: C1C2D (‘lower middle class’, ‘skilled listed websites, SR2 BLOG also takes traffic from the following working class’ and ‘working class’) [Source: http://www.nrs.co.uk/lifestyle.html] sources: - www.NewsNow.co.uk Likely someone who has never thought about going to community-en- - www.sunderlandeastareaforum.org.uk/ gagement-type events - neighbourhood policing meetings and Resi- - http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/wear/hi/ dents’ Association meetings, for example - but would likely be inter- ested in the content of such events, particularly crime reports. Likely to According to a 2008 survey of 1017 UK citizens by Livingstone & ask questions like ‘Who’s building what down my street?’, ‘Is burglary Markham, 23% of those questioned used the Internet to access news on the rise in Hendon?’, ‘Why did the church down our road close it’s at least three times a week, they were described as ‘more men, younger doors all of a sudden?’ ‘What happened with all those sirens whizzing and middle-class people’. Though this research is helpful, it is important past my house last night?’ Such questions can be answered but require to consider Sunderland-specific data on Sunderland-based citizens. A time, effort and a little journalistic knowlegde, SR2 BLOG seeks 2008 Ofcom report, for example, found Sunderland to be the city with to answer them all. the most broadband-connected homes in the UK (details below). Also, Sunderland was the overall winner of a government grant in 2007 that A 2004 US study into participation in civil society and ‘networked com- aimed to improve the lives of the ‘socially excluded’ by utilising various munities’ (A. Kavanaugh et al. 2004) looked at personality traits in schemes, all aimed at making it easier for them to connect to the Inter- engaged citizens and found, ‘Extroversion, staying informed, and hav- net. For such reasons, and considering the wide-ranging demographic ing membership in local organizations are significant in predicting com- of Sunderland SR2 residents, it would be invalid to assume those visit- munity activism.’ Although they did not explicitly define ‘community ing SR2 BLOG are largely ‘men, younger and middle-class’ people. activism’, Kavanaugh et al defined ‘good citizenship’ as ‘participation in democratic processes such as keeping informed, discussing issues and JICREG data for the first half of 2009 found that 53% of Sunderland voting.’ Echo readership was female, the largest majority were aged 35-44 (though the 55-64 was close behind), and 65% of readers fell into the C2DE (‘working class’) NRS social grade. [Full JICREG data in Appendix Typical contributor 1] The typical SR2 BLOG contributor is likely to be one of the excep- tionally active people in their community - have attended a neighbour- hood policing meeting, is a member of a Residents’ Association, buys In calculating the average age of typical SR2 the local newspaper, has lived in the area for a long time*, is aware of BLOG contributor and visitor, I took into consid- trends and changes in his neighbourhood and likely feels a great sense eration Andrea Kavanaugh et al’s 2004 study into or duty of community in contributing SR2 BLOG. ‘Participating in civil sociey: the case of networked communities.’ Their study of 100 engaged citizens in The typical SR2 BLOG contributor generally fits the estimated- a small town in the US, they found the average age of demographic of the typical SR2 BLOG visitor in aspects of house- the person using ‘community-oriented networks’ was hold income and social classification. The typical contributor, however, 46-47-years-old, with a standard deviation of 14-15 is likely to be marginally older than the typical visitor. For the typical years. Also relevant is the length of time Kavanaugh contributor, I limited the age estimation to 35-50 years, as opposed et al found that the average user had been living in to 30-60 for the typical visitor. The rationale behind this is taken from that specific community*: 18 years, with a standard the average age of members of voluntary community organisations deviation of 16-17years. The average number of of- (UK Online Centres and Residents’ Associations, to name just two) at- fline groups to which these citizens belonged was tendees being higher than the average age of the UK population - this two. is where I predict the core of quality SR2 BLOG contributions to come from. Statistics from Ofcom’s 2008 annual communications report found gramme, a scheme with the aim of getting even more Wearsiders Digital Sunderland Sunderland to have the highest percentage of broadband-connected online. Similarly, all libraries offer internet access and there has been homes in the UK. The report found that 66% of households in Sunder- an increase in the number of electronic village halls and UK Online land have a broadband connection, compared with the national average Centres, both initiatives aimed at opening up access to the in- of 57%. Source: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/cm/cmrnr08/uksummary.pdf ternet. There are two UK Online Centres and one electronic In 2007, Sunderland City Council launched the Digital Challenge pro- village hall in Sunderland SR2 alone. 05.
  • 6. dO PEOPLE REALLY CONSUME LOCAL NEWS ONLINE? Source: Ofcom Review of Local Media: Qualitative Findings (July 2009) “ ” ‘Participants in the research report a range of different behaviours and attitudes around using websites to consume local content’, recorded the Ofcom report. “You don’t have to sift through the paper or wait for the news, you can just find it Some participants explain that websites are a natural way straight away, you just type in what head- to access all types on information including both local in- formation and news content. These participants say they line it is [using websites.]” (Mansfield) prefer online consumption of local content as it enables con- Source: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/morr/reviewlocal.pdf venient access and more tailored and targeted local content [p.14] consumption. “ ” [..] In contrast, other participants are simply less engaged with the internet in general, due to either a lack of interest or knowledge of how to use the internet These participants say if they do use the internet at all, it is restricted to “Local Government website is handy for searching for specific local information on a small range of like Easter and bank holidays… to find out local websites, for example using a local newspaper website when they are actually coming to get the to find out the details of a particular upcoming event, or a local council website to find out what days the recycling will rubbish.” (Ruislip) be collected. Source: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/morr/reviewlocal.pdf [p. 14] Of local news online, the report summised, ‘Local websites are felt to The report did, however, say that their respondents appeared to have provide convenience, choice and control over local content consumption ‘limited awareness’ of the range of local information online outside of: and act as a one-stop shop for most types of local content. They are the natural way to access local information for many participants who - National newspaper or news media websites; already use the internet regularly in their daily lives.’ - Local newspaper websites; Participants identified the following ‘key benefits’ of accessing local news online: - Event guides on local newspaper websites; - Provides choice and control over local content consumption; - Entertainment venue websites; - A one-stop-shop for most types of local content; - Local council websites. - Readily accessible source, able to access information on de- mand Changes in local media landscape Participants in the research indicated they have seen a change in the local media landscape. Examples included: - Some titles covering a wider area resulting in some loss of localised content; - Some titles disappearing altogether; - Perception of a loss in news content - more advertising, thinner papers; - Prices of newspapers have risen despite some reduction in content depth; 06. Source: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/morr/reviewlocal.pdf [p. 17]
  • 7. What are other UK hyperlocal news sites doing? East Yorkshire-based Hedon Blog (hedonblog.wordpress.com) is one Lichfield Blog also launched in January 2009. In October 2009, Li- of the longest-running independent hyperlocal news sites in the UK. chfield Blog received 40,000 page views in that one month alone. Launching in January 2009, Hedon Blog averaged 212 unique page By November 2009, and still only 11 months old, Lichfield Blog was views in the first month of going live; by July, Hedon Blog was receiving generating an income of over £70 in advertising revenue - surpassing 1,784 unique page views a month, and by September that was up to even their own expectations. 2,414. Unlike Hedon Blog and many other hyperlocal news sites, Lichfield Hedon Blog built it’s profile and readership mainly through offline activ- Blog is operated by four media professionals and has published con- ity, namely targeted business card and flyer distribution. tributions from 12 other voluntary members. Towcester News (http://www.aboutmyarea.co.uk/Northamptonshire/ Success, for me and SR2 BLOG, would be to have hit the critical Towcester/NN12) is a hyperlocal news site for 10,000 in Towcester, mass defined on page 2 within 12 months, to have achieved a steady Northamptonshire. Towcester News has been running for approach- growth in unique site visitors, to have demonstrated the site and its ing three years and would appear to have built up a loyal userbase, content management system at an EVH/Online Centre, to have built a apparently recording 10,267 visitors to the site for the week 30/11 valuable and useful resource that could easily be taken on by any one - 06/12. Site editor, James Rudd, told me his news site had ‘effectively (or all) of Sunderland SR2’s community organisations. replace[d] the newspapers, who have little space and very little cover- ‘ age of the area.’ ’ Trends in internet usage [...]increased user involvement is having an upward effect on total surfing times. For example, according to Nielsen, the av- erage UK internet user spent three hours and 40 minutes on ‘member community sites’ in September 2008, up 42% on the figure of two hours and 35 minutes for a year previously. Source: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/cm/icmr08/converge.pdf production plan Technically being a community platform has, for SR2 BLOG, al- ways been a top priority. As a parallel to trends in internet usage - Of- com research outlined above - website developers, particularly those developing plugins for the open source WordPress, are likely to see such technicalities as a key focus, thus they should proliferate and improve. The nature of WordPress - chosen Content Management System for Example of a simple user-entry fixture on the Northcliffe-owned hyperlocal news site for SR2 BLOG - being open source means that there are constently Berkhamsted, Berkhamsted People. extensions being built for greater publisher customisation. There are, for example, currently 7,572 WordPress plugins - 20 of which are in- stalled and active on SR2 BLOG. A user interface demonstration of SR2 BLOG can be found on page 08. 07.
  • 8. USER interface ‘Write for SR2’ navigates user to WP registration page. t Interactive map with all published news mapped. Sunderland SR2 being the size that it is, the idea is that visitors will arrive t at the site, recognise the mapped area and go to their neighbouring streets, picking t up the most relevant news possible. Traditional in-site search. All posts tagged by street presuming user is looking for t geo-relevance. t *SR2 neighbourhoods presented as a SR2 neighbourhoods presented as a click- clickable list with quantity of news items. able list with quantity of news items.* This appears as one of the first naviga- tional tools because, unlike many online Simple email subscription box. publishers, the SR2 BLOG homepage index is not broken down into categories. I see the SR2 BLOG homepage inter- t face as much simpler and cleaner than the average online publisher. Near real-time feed of the below updates: - Twitter.com/SR2Blog - Delicious.com/joshhalliday/sunderland - YouTube.com/user/SR2Blog - Twitpic.com/photos/SR2Blog - Sunderland Echo news - BBC Wear news - Sunderland Eye Infirmary feedback - The Huntercombe Centre feedback - Ryhope General Hospital feedback t JoshHalliday’s del.icio.us bookmarks tagged ‘Sunderland’ - usually council documents that are newsworthy but outside the patch of Sunderland SR2. t A feed of Chris Mullin MPs, Member of Parlia- ment for Sunderland South, recent activity in Parliament, as recorded by Hansard. t A feature-heavy footer that hopefully makes the site more easily navigatable and adds depth in exposing more content. 08.
  • 9. ‘ the effect of online networks on civic engagement ’ A community computer network facilitates civic par- Longitudinal research on 100 US households within a ‘mature ticipation by providing pervasive local resources on- community network’ found that ‘A community computer net- line and by connecting people to local communication work* facilitates civic participation by providing pervasive local and discussion channels, public and non-profit orga- resources online and by connecting people to local communication nization leaders and members, and many other civic and discussion channels, public and non-profit organization lead- ers and members, and many other civic resources’ [A. Kavanaugh resources. et al. (2004) Participating in civil society: the case of networked communities. p.1] support the use by local groups of innovative tools for non-experts, Kavanaugh et al on the effect of community-based websites on civic such as easy collaborative web-based tools for information production information distribution: and collaboration’ (Kavanaugh, 2004). Although political bodies have been required to make most in- formation accessible to the public, it has been difficult for the online centres in sunderland average citizen to find and obtain background information and documentation on important issues beyond what is reported in the mass media. Local issues may be covered only in a local newspaper, radio or television broadcast, but the detailed in- formation behind the stories is difficult to track down. It is very time consuming to investigate where background information is, to identify and make contact with appropriate officials or staff, or traipse through government buildings, town halls, or public libraries seeking records. This has been the specialized work of media reporters and determined activists. It is gener- ally accepted that Internet tools, such as web browsers and email, have lowered costs of locating, acquiring and exchang- ing such information. (Kavanaugh, 2004) Further, reinforcing the SR2 BLOG growth-facilitating plan to in- volve workshops at local Electronic Village Halls and Online Centres, Ka- vanaugh recommended, ‘Community networks should also promote and The mission statement of SR2 BLOG is to ‘bring together like-minded engaged citizens whose concerns and interests can be effectively expressed on a collaborative website. The aim is for a social news site; users [...] contributing to a greater knowledge of Sunderland SR2, it’s residents, events businesses and prospects.’ I believe everything in this concept document points to the likely success of SR2 BLOG as a community resource. *‘community network’: ‘Community-oriented networks seek to facilitate information dissemination, discussion, and joint activity pertaining to mu- 09. nicipal government, public schools, voluntary associations, local events, community issues, regional economic development and social services.’
  • 10. APPENDIX 1 SR2 BLOG h your news Offline: a community-run news site for sunderland sr2 Hendon Sunderland Source: 2001 Census (http://bit.ly/5k0NkV) Source: 2001 Census (http://bit.ly/5k0NkV) Population: 10,377 Population: 280,807 Full-time workers aged 16-74: 33% (of total population) Full-time workers aged 16-74: 37% (of total population) Part-time workers aged 16-74: 11% Part-time workers aged 16-74: 11% Self-employed workers aged 16-74: 5% Self-employed workers aged 16-74: 4% Retired workers aged 16-74: 13% Retired workers aged 16-74: 14% Students aged 16-74: 5% Students aged 16-74: 4% Economically inactive (looking after home/family, permanently sick/ Economically inactive (looking after home/family, permanently sick/ disabled, other): 21% disabled, other): 19% Large employers and higher managerial occupations: 1.6% Large employers and higher managerial occupations: 1.85% Higher professional occupations: 2.54% Higher professional occupations: 2.28% Lower managerial and professional occupations: 13.42% Lower managerial and professional occupations: 13.47% Aged 16-74 with no qualifications: 36% Aged 16-74 with no qualifications: 36% Online: Gazettelive.co.uk Source: Hitwise (data taken from week ending 28/11/2009) Source: ABCE report January-June 2009: http://bit.ly/8zvU0U http://bit.ly/3qGO8b YouTube.com/user/SR2Blog Daily average of Unique Users/Browsers: 15,419 YouTube was the sixth most-visited website in the UK – ahead of UK Monthly average of Unique Users/Browsers: 264, 648 msn, the BBC homepage, Amazon and Wikipedia, amongst others. Out of the social networking websites, YouTube was the second No data available for individual site addresses, though we can see a most-visited in the UK with 16.16%, only behind Facebook and far list of most visited on monthly averages. exceeding third-placed Bebo. Facebook Page: SR2 Blog The Gazette’s hyperlocal site for Redcar (http://ts10.gazettelive.co.uk) Facebook was the second most-visited website in the UK in the same remained the third most-visited GazetteLive.co.uk address in every time period. Out of the social networking websites, Facebook had far month from January to June. and away the lion share of all UK visits with 51.05% SunderlandEcho.com Twitter.com/SR2Blog Source: ABCE report January-June 2009: http://bit.ly/6yWtIe Twitter was not amongst the most-visited websites in the UK in the given time period. Out of the social networking websites, Twitter Daily average of Unique Users/Browsers: 11,332 ranked fourth, with 1.9% of all UK visits. Monthly average of Unique Users/Browsers: 182, 106 Statistics compiled by JICREG, taken from Jan- Age 25-34: 13,494 C2DE: 62,130 Sunderland Echo Readership uary - June 2009, shows the following about Age 35-44: 15,384 AB: 11,486 the readership of Sunderland Echo. Age 45-54: 12,557 C1: 21,598 Age 55-64: 15,026 C2: 20,812 Female readers: 50,453 Age 65-74: 13,828 DE: 41,318 Male readers: 44,761 Age 75+: 10,582 Age 15-24: 14343 ABC1: 33,083 Source: http://bit.ly/5mh6L9