Regional newspapers’ fury at BBC local web plan
28 January 2008
By Sarah Lagan, Jason Craig
The BBC has prompted a new rift with the regional press by planning a network
of 60 ultra-local websites.
Previous plans for BBC ultra-local TV were dropped in October following a huge
backlash from regional newspapers that feared the service would stifle their
own multimedia online efforts.
Now Press Gazette has learned that the BBC is planning a new network of
websites, using the latest online localisation and mapping technology.
Controller of BBC English Regions Andy Griffee told students at Coventry
University that new service would involve text, audio and video news which
could be navigated using a map of a specified region.
The prototype BBC site covers news, sport, travel and weather with symbols
providing users with the main means of navigating between sections.
“E-democracy” will also enable people to research politicians and political
parties via more interactive and informative means.
Griffee said: “It is work in progress but I intend to go to the BBC Trust and
seek its permission to launch it. Users can decide how local is important to
them. It brings everything together in one place.”
User-generated content is understood to form a major part of the proposed new
network – which could be narrowed down by the user to the level of a town.
With my E-Democracy.Org hat on, I'd love to find a UK partner that could get
our self-governing/volunteer-led in front of communities all around the UK.
While Upmystreet or Craiglist prove there is some value in top-down technical
infrastructures defining geographical exchange, sustained interactive
"e-democracy" among citizens isn't one of them. However, if you combine high
traffic geographical navigation/news/information use with bottom-up community
ownership supporting the public two-way exchange, I think you might have
something quite powerful.