Old habits die hard

After the dust has settled on the council elections, one of my first trips out of the office was to the BBC Essex studios in Chelmsford to pick the bones out the result here with the station editor.

My Leader, sitting alongside me, was still very much in doorstep campaign mode. There is still a general election to fight, after all.

One of the issues which came up time and again in Essex was the profile of local candidates, and the strong sense that if people hadn’t had a leaflet through the door, their local candidate and their party hadn’t engaged with them.

Large chunks of Essex are rural and you can’t blame parties with limited resources for focussing their efforts and resources on the division they stand a chance or winning or were fighting to retain - meaning, of course, some residents miss out on doorstep contact with candidates.

But I did wonder if, yet again, this offers a bit of warning against a wholesale shift to digital communication.

Posted on 18th May 2017

‘Man fills pothole’ – that’s not news!

Everyone wants local news. But how local is local, and what counts as news?

In Oxfordshire, we have been researching community information channels. We have found over 600 and still counting.

Let’s assume that coverage was evenly distributed, which it’s not. For a population north of 650,000 that would mean an average potential audience of about 1000 people. So we’re definitely talking local.

These community news sources range from official parish newsletters to a local enthusiast running a Facebook page for their village. Both they want very localised information relevant to their area.

They aren’t interested in safeguarding policy, but firefighters testing electric blankets in their area turns out to be pretty interesting - judged by the digital currency of shares and likes.

Posted on 17th May 2017