Hyperlocal teams up with the BBC and local newspaper for General Election debate

By Hannah Scarbrough | 6th May 2015

The Lincolnite is a hyperlocal with a clear vision – “a digital native publication, apolitical, community oriented”. They have brought this ethos to bear in their innovative General Election coverage, which has encompassed everything from Periscope interviews with candidates to news partnerships.

We hear from co-founder Daniel Ionescu on how they have balanced working with ‘traditional’ local media with their digital-first approach, and have attracted huge local participation in the process.

“A first in our region”

In a pioneering move, The Lincolnite teamed up with BBC Radio Lincolnshire and local newspaper Lincolnshire Echo to present hustings event, the Lincoln Debate. But how did this partnership come about?

No strategy symposiums or fanfare needed – Daniel says that it was simply a matter of the three local editors getting their heads together over lunch.

“One lunchtime in November 2014 we got together to discuss how we could better work together, when the idea to organise jointly the biggest debate came about. We have then split tasks and responsibilities between us in organising the programme over the following six months.”

“Over 250 people” 


Audience members at the Lincoln Debate

Promotion for the event was shared equally by The Lincolnite, BBC Radio Lincolnshire and Lincolnshire Echo, with each hosting an application form for audience members. Over 240 applied, and a “balanced audience” of 200 local people were selected. A further 50, says Daniel, “were guests of the candidates (10 each)”, bringing the audience total to 250.

The Lincolnite team livestreamed the entire event on their website, as did Lincolnshire Echo and BBC Radio Lincolnshire. The collaboration enabled the broadcast of the event, as Daniel explains: “The sound arrangement for the programme were provided by the BBC, while the video production aspect was handled by a third party company.”

Participation was also encouraged through the hashtag, #LincolnDebate, which was 8th place in the UK’s top Twitter trends in the event’s duration.

“Debates like this are incredibly important”

And what was the audience reaction? Alongside tweets of praise, many audience members (and candidates) gave their views on the event in The Lincolnite’s post-debate video.

Periscope and more…

Partnering with the BBC and their local newspaper is not the only innovative way The Lincolnite have covered the election. They also crowdsourced readers’ top 5 questions for candidates, and then put these to the would-be MPs, using Periscope to livestream these interviews. These were, says Daniel, “then packaged and edited on our YouTube channel”.

In a further invitation for engagement, Daniel says “we are allowing our readers to vote on who they thought had the best answers”.

Like other hyperlocals, such as Tongwynlais.com, The Lincolnite have created a General Election hub on their website. This hub, Daniel explains, pulls together “all our political coverage, including Twitter lists of the MP candidates and Q&A with 59 city council candidates”.

We want to hear from you! Tweet us @C4CJ if you are covering #GE2015 and have any best practice examples to share.

Images accompanying this article are copyright Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite.


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