Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

A new ebook for hyperlocal bloggers

Posted in 6x6 series, Journalism by Adam Westbrook on January 11, 2010

The numbers of excellent hyperlocal websites in the UK and the US bloomed in 2009, from The Lichfield Blog, Bournville Village, Kings Cross Environment and Pits n Pots in the UK; to CrossCut, Red Bank Green and the Ann Arbor Chronicle in the US.

But will they fill the void left by shrinking, or dying, local newspapers?

That is the challenge laid down to them; and if hyperlocal blogs and websites are to have any lasting resonance as a new way of doing news, they will have to live up that, and move beyond simply aggregating other content and hosting a listings site.

In other words, they must become newsgathering operations in themselves: finding stories, checking facts, holding powers to account and sharing the results with their community of readers.

With that in mind, I’ve put together a new ebook, out today, to help all hyperlocal bloggers big or small, young or old, get the news that matters to their community. It’s called…

Newsgathering For Hyperlocal Websites

What’s in it?

In 40 pages it covers everything from getting news from council agendas and press releases, finding out about crime, keeping on top of your local sport team and submitting Freedom of Information requests.

In it are the tools you’ll need to create a one-person newsroom, which gets all the important press releases and has all the important contacts. You’ll find out how to create and manage an effective news diary which means you rarely miss a big story.

I explain why you don’t need to pay for expensive news wires to get confirmation of big national news stories on your patch, and show you step-by-step how to submit an effective Freedom of Information request. The end of the book contains an appendix of templates you can print off and use to get started.

It’s based on my years as a local reporter, at times single-handedly managing a news desk which covered no fewer than three counties at once. I learned the hard way how to report on local news, and it’s all in Newsgathering For Hyperlocal Websites.

Click here to get a free peek at the contents (pdf)

Who should buy it?

This book is ideal for anyone who is setting up a hyperlocal website, or is thinking about it. All the information I have shared I have done so with a small hyperlocal outfit in mind: there is no other journalism guide book like it. Journalism students will find it a great simple breakdown of the newsgathering operation.

It is written chiefly for the British hyperlocal blogger, and although the terms will differ in other countries, the techniques are applicable in the US, Europe and beyond.

Who shouldn’t buy it?

If you’re a journalist with years of local newsgathering under your belt, you will probably know most of it already. However, if you are not used to covering a patch/beat single-handedly you will find the contents useful, no matter how long you’ve been in the trade.

How do I get it?

I’m publishing it with an awesome discounted price of ¬£4.99 (~$8.00/EUR5.50). This will last for 7 days at which point it’ll go up to its normal price, so buy quick to get the good deal!

Click here to get your mitts on one!

Any feedback on the first edition will be much appreciated: I’ll bear everything in mind for future editions!

Update: hyperlocal blogger Philip John over at JournalLocal has reviewed the book.

A rare work update…

Posted in Adam by Adam Westbrook on January 8, 2010

It’s been a busy start to the New Year here at Westbrook towers.

First off my article about prisoner votes campaigner John Hirst is featured in this week’s Big Issue In The North. It follows this audio slideshow I produced in 2009. If you’re in the north of the UK, I’m sure a (very) cold Big Issue vendor would appreciate your custom. Meanwhile some of the images from this slideshow are appearing in a documentary, The Fear Factor, due for release in March.

My new e-book, Newsgathering for Hyperlocal Websites is due for release next week. It’s a practical manual packed with advice on how to turn your hyperlocal blog into a solid newsgathering operation, holding powers to account where the mainstream media have failed. It’s got a discounted opening price, so make sure you subscribe to the blog for details!

Elsewhere the lecturing work carries on, with dozens of short films my students have made due for marking by the end of this month. I hope to be returning to Kingston University’s journalism department for other events in 2010.

And I’m being kept busy with various conferences. I’m looking forward to speaking at Journalism.co.uk‘s News: Rewired event in London on the 14th January; tickets for that have now sold out. I’m also due to speak at a couple of planned events in London, and I’ve been invited to take part in some exciting international festivals in the spring as well (more details soon).

All the while January’s Future of News Meetup in association with POLIS is now full, with a waiting list building. We’ll be hearing from journalists at the Financial Times and one of the team behind the Berlin Project about innovation¬† in multimedia. If you would like to sign up to future meetups or try to make January’s event, click here to get involved.

Right here there’s lots of plans for the blog, with lots more practical advice and analysis of developments in journalism due in 2010. You’ll find me contributing to a host of excellent blogs and websites in 2010, including Duckrabbit, A Developing Story and Journalism 2.0.

And ahead, I some exciting multimedia plans stewing, and I’ll be looking for collaborators in the near future – keep your ears to the ground! In the meantime, I’m always available for various freelancing work, so just click on Contact Adam to get in touch!