Talk About Local Unconference 2016: hosted by BCU

By Jerome Turner on October 17th, 2016

Saturday 15th October was the annual gathering of hyperlocal media types run by Talk About Local, and for the first time, this year hosted at a university, Birmingham City University to be precise. And it seemed to make an impression, with a lot of people complimenting the building, and the views of the expanding campus.

Those people who run hyperlocal websites clearly find it helpful to come out of their localities and meet like-minded types, chew the fat over new approaches or technologies, or the potential for forming new alliances, as proposed by the Centre for Community Media, who came up from Cardiff. But from my perspective, of someone in the writeup stage of a PhD exploring hyperlocal community media audiences in the West Midlands, it’s also hugely useful in gauging interest and impact amongst those practitioners. I ran a session but rather than start from the position of telling them about my work, I let them ask me questions: what do they feel they don’t yet know about their audience, that they’d like to know. An opportunity for me to share some early findings but also to listen to practitioners’ concerns and potentially steer aspects of my work. Anyway, I feel that both Dave Harte and I should be flattered with the 15 or so people who attended our respective sessions (Dave’s title, in clickbait fashion: You’ll never believe the five reasons people start hyperlocal websites), and the ensuing discussions. It was interesting to note a few omissions that we’d usually see in sessions – nothing on how to make money from hyperlocal, or relationships with mainstream media. Have people stopped chasing those leads, and just get on with it in other ways?

It’s also worth mentioning the glittering TAL Unawards, as Dave, Andy Williams (Cardiff University) and myself were bestowed for our academic contribution. I didn’t see both awards but one was a small micro-USB fan that actually turned out not to work – read into that what you will.