Posted by: John Brace | 16th July 2015

BBC launches consultation on collaboration with hyperlocal blogs but do bloggers know there's a consultation?

BBC launches consultation on collaboration with hyperlocal blogs but do bloggers know there’s a consultation?


Liverpool City Region Combined Authority meeting 19th June 2015

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority meeting 19th June 2015

I’ll start by declaring an interest in this piece as I write for and run this blog. Earlier this week I got an email from a well-known journalist about a consultation the BBC is running. More information on this is on the BBC’s website.

Personally I’m not sure what to make of it. I don’t have the benefit of working for a media organisation like the BBC that is funded by taxes so gets a guaranteed income. Tomorrow I’ll be filming a public meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

At the previous meeting (19th June 2015) there were three filming the meeting itself:

a) myself
b) Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council and
c) the BBC for the Sunday Politics show.

However out of those three the footage I took was available to the public first. However I am getting off the point a little. The BBC just used clips of the meeting with a voice over during its Sunday Politics show.

Below is my footage on Youtube (which can be viewed in resolutions to 1080p HD). It has at the time of writing 19 views.

In comparison here is the footage on Youtube filmed by Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council (at the start of each meeting the Chair generally announces they’re filming and the meeting can be watched on their Youtube channel). It can be watched in resolutions up to 480p. As you can see when they uploaded it to Youtube it’s resulted in a blank black area right, left and top. Generally my view is that if there’s a natural source of light in the room you should try to film with the light behind the camera (this was what the BBC cameraman was trying to do at the start too). Some of the time they film pointing at the windows. However at the time of writing they have 28 views.

Now I’m definitely biased but I think my footage is better (but not as good as the BBC’s (unfortunately I don’t have a link of their video footage to hand to show)).

It’s very hard for me to fairly compete though with Knowsley, who have a Twitter account with 8,842 followers compared to my Twitter account with 970 followers.

I do see competition in the media as a good thing though. If people want to watch footage of this public meeting they have a choice.

That’s why I don’t fully understand what the BBC is proposing. We’re all competing with each other, which means over time we learn from each other and get better. Providing people with a choice is good. It’s how the marketplace and media works.

Collaboration between competing bodies could work to reduce that choice in the long-term if two or more previous competitors collaborate.

Links from the BBC’s website to a hyperlocal blog (through this proposed external linking system) would cause a spike in traffic to the hyperlocal blog as links from the BBC’s website carry a lot of weight.

However hyperlocal blogs who weren’t collaborating with the BBC would lose out on this source of visitors.

What’s really needed is not what the BBC propose. A lot of hyperlocal blogs have filled a media void once occupied by the newspapers. Newspapers get a guaranteed income from the taxpayer through things like public notices as the legislation specifically refers to public notices being published in local newspapers.

Considering the community benefit of hyperlocal blogs what’s really needed is a decent discussion about their long-term sustainability and how essentially their community benefit is priceless. They’re doing media work that otherwise wouldn’t happen. Hyperlocal blogs (including this one) have written stories that lead to front page news stories in newspapers, have highlighted extremely important issues and contributed to greater scrutiny of public bodies.

Apart from the first of these issues, the two latter have a “community benefit” can’t be easily measured or quantified. Anyway going back to the BBC consultation I was asked a further few questions so I thought I’d do a poll here (or you can leave a comment).

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  1. G’day John

    You do a much better job than the others John because you like “Highbrow” are not trying to rip off innocent people, you just do things exceptionally well and are very very clever people.

    I truly believe that you and “Highbrow” should earn a lot more than a useless chancer, don’t understand the contracts, lie, lie, fantasy, bullshit that is Adderley.

    Maybe you do.

    He couldn’t lace your’ boots in a debate with either of you even in that ridiculous “Football Shit”.

    He has just learnt to abuse the system sucking up to vile abusive amateur power hungry clowncillors like “Ankles” “Phil the Dill” and “The Pretend Friend” and their ridiculous will do ‘anything’ to be famous wannabe’s “Crabapple” and Clowncillor Doughnut”.



    They must hate you filming their lies and total bullshit.

    Can’t wait to see more of “The Blinking Baby CEO” making a fool of himself on your footage. Sit boy….

  2. Mr Brace, A Good idea in principle, although you would have state sponsorship? and perhaps censorship? It would indeed certainly keep Central Government aware of what is ongoing in each area. People like ADDERLEY and LAMBERT would certainly be spotted earlier and perhaps dealt with sooner rather than later. Certainly when certain people go to Town and ask for Devolved Powers it would give the Secretary of States a head start or should that be the heads up

    • I’m not saying that hyperlocal blogs should be funded through taxes (although some of the more popular ones accept advertising (which I presume can also be from public bodies) which is one way for the taxpayer to subsidise publications.

      For example during the consultation on a new fire station in Saughall Massie, the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority paid:

      £100 down as “contribution to publication of Wirral Older Persons Parliament newsletter”


      £255 for an “article in Messenger magazine”.

      Source: Report to the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority section 68 Financial Implications and Value for Money.

      Most publications don’t allow advertisers to pay for editorial content. Problems can occur though when a story is about an advertiser.

      As to your point about state censorship, if the body is funded by taxes (which the BBC is) that means the government can determine both what the tax level is set at and how the money is spent.

  3. Has anyone seen or read the article in Messenger Magazine that MFRS paid £255 for?