Cardiff’s Centre for Community Journalism launched

I was in Cardiff this week to see the launch of Cardiff University’s highly anticipated and hugely ambitious Centre For Community Journalism.

The event was a big success – a day-long series of talks on a variety of issues facing hyoperlocal and community journalism, such as funding, building community, social media, and how to build successful networks and collaboration, which I’ve already touched upon. And, of course, the official launch of the centre itself. But what’s its aim? According to the centre’s website:

“Our aim is to build on this new hyperlocal form of digital journalism and help create new, sustainable models of local news. Our focus will be at the local level, the place where journalism is most valued – but most at risk. As a centre of excellence in both training and research, our commitment, in this endeavour, is simply to promote good journalism.”

The Centre is being established to address a number of key issues facing local journalism in the UK:

  • The rise of the internet which has hit traditional business models of print journalism hard
  • Readership and advertising revenues have been in steady decline
  • Journalists are being laid off in an effort to cut costs and in some areas newspapers have disappeared
  • The erosion of trust in journalism due to issues raised at the Leveson Inquiry into press

They believe the future of journalism will involve a collaboration between new groups of community journalists and professionals, working together to create sustainable local news hubs.

The aim of the centre is to create more jobs for journalists at local and community level, not to replace professionals with amateurs.

You can access the centre’s website here.

There’s a great video on hyperlocal which was shown at the launch on Youtube, courtesy jomecmedia on YouTube:

And John Kingsbury of innovation foundation Nesta talks about hyperlocal media, media ‘black holes’, the importance of mobile technology and community:

My favourite quote from the launch event came from Justin Lewis, head of the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies. He said:

“There is a danger that in the future we could find news on good quality platforms but with poor content.”

Lewis also stressed the need for news hubs to work in collaboration with each other and create networks. He added:

“Our vision is to be part of creating sustainable models of local journalism. In a few years’ time we want people to know more about what is going on around them, and we want more people being paid for doing journalism.

“Only by working together can we begin to achieve those goals.”

It struck me how what we were doing on Guardian Local – collaborating; forging networks; looking at how the role of an online journalist is changing into curator of news, not just a narrator; and the journalist as a ‘community manager’ – was a part of what Cardiff Uni is now trying to achieve. And there’s little wonder ex-Guardian Local boss Sarah Hartley and former Guardian Cardiff beatblogger Hannah Waldram were conducting sessions at the launch.

It certainly brought back memories of my time on Guardian Leeds. I wish the community news centre well – it’s certainly making the right noises at the start of the process. I hope it goes on to become a national centre for pushing journalism and blogging with an ethos of collaboration and networking – and helps forges forward in finding out some sustainable business models for local media.

Check out Journalism.co.uk’s report on Tips for engaging and empowering news communities which were shared at the conference by Solana Larsen of international citizen media site Global Voices Online and the Guardian’s Hannah Waldram.

The conference also heard about research by Cardiff University and Birmingham City University into the nature of hyperlocal.journalism. Talk About Local has also blogged on the report.

My favourite session was by the fab folks at Storyful and their efforts to verify many of the tweets and YouTube videos that swamp social media. Definitely one to watch out for. And again, part of a new wave of ‘collaborative’ media.

A full collection of tweets and links from the day, including all the workshops, has been captured on this Noticeboard www.communityjournalism.n0tice.com, which gives a fuller picture of the issues under discussion. There are  more images tagged #cjc13 on this Flickrstream.

Emma Meese, who is responsible for developing and managing the centre, is also keen to hear from any hyperlocal websites who want to be included on the map being created to help network people together which you can see here.

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