Star & Crescent has been awarded Nesta funding and a place on a new action research project for hyperlocal news sites in the UK.
‘Hyperlocals’ are defined as news media (online or in print) that focus on “a small community such as a town, village or single postcode’ and are one of the only growing areas of news media nationwide. Hyperlocals can span many forms of media, including print, websites, social media and radio.
Star & Crescent is one of 10 hyperlocal media services that will receive funding from Nesta as part of its Action Research in Audience Analytics project. Alongside 9 other hyperlocal news sites from across the country, we will be exploring how a more strategic use of website and social media analytics can help to define and measure our success online.
Portsmouth already has a range of hyperlocals in addition to Star and Crescent, including Express FM radio, That’s Solent TV, Portsmouth Politics on Facebook, About My Area and Team Locals. All these sites focus on promoting Portsmouth and supporting the local community by providing news, information and a place for residents to discuss the issues that are most important to them.
Editors in Chief Tom Sykes and Sarah Cheverton attended a networking and training day in London on 18th September to meet the other participants (see below) and to find out more about the project. You can read an account of the training day from fellow participant Jamie Summerfield, who runs A Little Bit of Stone in Staffordshire.
Tom Sykes said “We’re very excited to be taking part and it’s been great to meet up with other hyperlocals across the country and see the different approaches we’re all taking to improving news and discussion in our local areas.”
Fellow participants from across the country are:
- Telford Live – Telford, Shropshire
- Roseland Online – Roseland, Cornwall
- A Little Bit of Stone – Stone, Staffordshire
- My Turriff – Turriff, Aberdeenshire
- The Bristol Cable – Bristol
- Bitterne Park – Southampton, Hampshire
- On the Wight – Isle of Wight, Hampshire
- West Leeds Dispatch – Leeds, Yorkshire
- The Richmond Noticeboard – Richmond, North Yorkshire
The project lasts for 4 months (from 1st October 2015 – 31st January 2016), during which we will be undertaking a series of experiments of our choosing, for example experimenting with Facebook adverts, website surveys and online advertising campaigns. We will be measuring our progress against the goals we want to achieve and we’ll keep you in touch with the programme at all our major milestones.
Nesta hopes the research project will provide answers to 5 key questions on hyperlocal development:
- What barriers are there to hyperlocal media publishers analysing their audience and content?
- How does training, upskilling and trial participation help hyperlocal media publishers overcome these barriers?
- What evidence do the trials provide about local audiences and their consumption of hyperlocal media?
- What evidence does this research provide to the wider sector about the cost-benefit of audience and content analysis and its impact on the commercial and social value proposition of services? – including services’ ability to demonstrate their value to potential partnerships with traditional/established media groups and local services?
- Development and dissemination of learning resources for long-term benefit of and use by the wider hyperlocal media sector
“This project will massively help us to improve our services, deepen our audience engagement and reach, and help us to build long term sustainability for Star & Crescent” said Sarah Cheverton.
“We’re also absolutely delighted that our participation in the project now enables us to publish 3-4 times a week.”
This means that we are now open to regular submissions, so if there’s a story that you think we should cover or if you have an article that you’re burning to write about Portsmouth, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org