#C4CJconsultation: a round-up

By Hannah Scarbrough | 27th Jul 2016

Yesterday Cardiff University’s Centre for Community Journalism (C4CJ) held a consultation event to discuss plans for a representative body, and share results from our survey and initial discussions about hyperlocal representation. The event also incorporated the BBC’s biannual Hyperlocal Forum (which can be found in a separate blog post). 17 people attended on the day, including community news publishers, academics and representatives from organisations such as the BBC and IMPRESS, the independent press regulator – however many more watched through Periscope and shared insights through #C4CJconsultation on Twitter.

Survey results

The day began with Emma Meese, Manager of C4CJ, presenting findings from our recent survey, which had 56 respondents from across the UK. Although admittedly this number is small in comparison to the number of hyperlocal services operating in the UK (661 according to Local Web List, the successor of Openly Local), we hope that the survey gives a sense of the need for a representative body, and can trigger useful discussions around such an organisation’s functions and operation. We intend to continue to build on this initial response and capture as many voices as possible as we continue to consult on our plans. Here’s the slide deck from the day:


After this presentation, we moved into a workshop format, aiming to explore these key questions:
  • Membership criteria
  • What is its primary purpose/what could it achieve?
  • How could it operate?
  • How can we consult on it?

Find out more in our Storify from the day, which can be found at the bottom of this article.

What did you think?

Sarah Hartley, of Google Digital News Initiative and Talk About Local, has written an excellent digest on the representative body consultation. Sarah raises the point that we need to avoid entering a hyperlocal groundhog day:
On the other hand, many have come at this question before and nothing has stuck despite good intentions and technological savvy – remember the Hyperlocal Alliance anyone?
This is a timely reminder that many have been before us. How do we make a representative body for all in the community news sector, as Sarah describes it, a “feasible ambition”? On the question of inclusivity, others were also concerned about the idea of ‘membership criteria’.

John Baron has also produced a write-up on his thoughts on the day, explaining why he’s broadly in favour of representation, but against tiered membership:
“Adding tiers to the sector seems unnecesary and divisive, which isn’t a good foundation on which to start a representative body. Two different bodies would just burn themselves out.”
Many found the day useful and stimulating, with a desire to keep the momentum going.

If you’re planning to blog about the day, please do let us know as we’d love to share these as widely as possible.

Next steps

So what’s next? As suggested by Adam Cantwell-Corn of The Bristol Cable, we will be condensing all of the discussions and findings on a representative body into a short document, which lists outline plans for its governance and functions. This will be published on Google Docs so that community news publishers across the sector can access and add comments. It is also expected that there will be follow-up consultation events across different parts of the UK, and continued efforts to consult with all of you, both on and offline. We will also be launching a forum space on this website soon, so that community news publishers have a secure area to share ideas and challenges. Watch this space!

Thanks to Dr Andy Williams and Bruce Etherington of Cardiff University, whose notes on the day have been incorporated into this round-up and the below Storify.


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