I attended an interesting meeting this morning at the Westminster Media Forum, on the future of local media. I missed the beginning, and am not sure what the rules it was done under, so won’t go into too much detail about who said what. But it was extremely interesting. It focused on issues of delivery (there was a fairly mind-blowing session by some top bod at Ofcom about spectrum allocation, which was liberally sprinkled with acronyms!) and also content. There was someone from an organisation called mysociety.org which is definitely worth knowing about. A source of information for any journalist, but especially ones looking at local issues. Another speaker raised an issue that I think is very topical: How will the rise in User Generated Content, on-line information etc impact on the “watchdog” role of journalists – the role they play in holding public authorities, businesses and others to account?
It did get me thinking (you’ll be surprised to hear…) about the terms we use. Like here, you might conceive of a hierarchy of local/regional/national/European. But so many things that we deal with are regional or national stories without ever being national. Not just in terms of the work with do with local bodies to fund local projects, but also thinks like fishing quotas, or electronic identification of sheep or ship dismantling. That was why I wanted to go along to the event, and why someone in our team will from next year be looking at developing our services for local media.
We had our Christmas reception last night, with lots of the people we’ve worked with during the year there. For the press section that meant our media monitoring people, the Foreign Press Association, the Association of European Journalists, past team members (both recent and longer ago), people from the Arsenal Double Club, working journalists (Brian Hanrahan added a bit of celebrity to the event!),a couple of guys from the National Theatre. I also met some new people – a researcher working on a European project, a nice Dutch woman from a think-tank and a somewhat over-exuberant architect! It was a really pleasant evening, and also crazy to see how many people there are working in this fairly niche area that I just don’t know!