Some thoughts on the end of Guardian local
Friday will be the last day for the Guardian’s innovative local project in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Leeds. For Guardian Media Group, the experiment has come to an end. There has been no shortage of bloggers, journalists and individuals paying tribute to the fantastic work done as a result of the three sites, some of whom are mentioned at the bottom of this post.
Many have offered thoughts on what the future for communities in Edinburgh will be online when the project ends. For what they are worth, I wanted to offer a few personal reflections on my brief time working for the project.
Firstly, tribute must be paid to Tom Allan and Mike MacLeod. Both are lovely guys who care a lot about Edinburgh and the various communities in the city. Sarah Hartley gave me my first break in journalism and I am grateful for her advice and guidance.
When the project first started, Tom covered Edinburgh in a way the capital hadn’t seen before. Multimedia, hyper-local news on a daily basis was a breath of fresh air. As a student journo, it was fascinating to see it evolve.
The project was a welcome addition to the city’s news sphere. It has not sought to replicate the work done by newspapers like the Evening News, which continues to provide important coverage of issues in the city, by trying to cover all the city’s issues.
Instead, it has provided coverage based more on issues, working with often small community groups. Given the resources available, not all the problems, challenges and issues in the city could be covered. But for those that were given attention, both Mike and Tom showed passion and resiliance making sure they were covered properly.
I was particularly impressed by Mike’s coverage of the aftermath of the climate camp after it ended.
My personal highlight was working with residents at the Flower Colonies in Slateford. After following their fight against a new development , I got the chance to spend an afternoon with them and find out how it had brought their community closer together. I also enjoyed looking at the impact of chuggers in the city centre (even if one commenter didn’t).
Another innovation, which I think has helped bring decision makers to more people in the city, is live-blogging of council meetings. Often, there were issues discussed and decisions made that would not make it into print media because of space. But these were important to certain groups and the blog was an opportunity for them to find out more about the process. Others have started doing this and I hope it continues.
Thirdly, the digital community in Edinburgh has grown over the past two years and will no doubt continue to do so. The local project has helped, giving coverage to events and encouraging its readers to get involved. I hope we find another forum through which to keep this going, such as through the social media surgeries and hacks/hackers. Perhaps it would be a good idea to organise a leaving do for Mike to celebrate the work of Guardian local and discuss what happens next?
Fourthly it has given more prominence to other hyper-local sites. I had never heard of the likes of Greener Leith or the Broughton Spurtle before Tom started to provide links to their posts. Through the Guardian local project, a number of people came to realise just how wide and rich Edinburgh’s online community is.
When Mike took over the blog, we had a discussion about the future of Guardian Edinburgh. He said he wanted to give as many people in Edinburgh as possible the chance to share their stories and views on the city. I think he has gone a long way to doing that and it’s a shame it has to end in this form.
There will be other channels through which these issues continue to be covered , such as the Evening News and STV local. But I am sure many people will miss the Guardian blog and the people who contributed to it.
The experiment may be over for site, but I think it will leave a lasting impression on Edinburgh’s digital community.
And in true Guardian local style, do comment below if you think any of these views are right or wrong