The Rise of Local Citizen Journalism?

I’ve not really brought into the citizen journalism idea of blogging; it’s always seemed a poor imitation of what we get from mainstream journalism.  Not surprising really when it is being done with fewer resources and less training and little or not editorial over-sight.

But, at the local level there’s clearly a niche that could be filled*, particularly around the “village” geographies that we identify with more easily than we do with boroughs.

I see that with some of the things that The Forest Hill Society have been doing with their blog, but Brockley Central has gone a couple of steps further; and with the judicious mix of interviews, views on planning developments big and small, and polls I think it has become a valuable and involving local hub.

And now Nick has secured an interview with the Council on planning issues.  Of course, this being blogland we the reader get to put our questions forward as well as relying on Nick to develop his own line of questioning.  From the look at the comments so far there’s a strong interest in planning enforcement as much as future plans for the area.  Given that when I last had any involvement in these issues there was only one planning enforcement officer in the borough it’ll be interesting to see what sort of response the council are able to provide on those concerns.

It’s good to see the Council being open to the idea that communicating at this level is worth doing and credit to Nick for pursuing it.

* Given that the regional press (in London) doesn’t do much local reporting, the sub-regional doesn’t offer much of a focus on this bit of South East London, and the freesheets are so poorly resourced.


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About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
This entry was posted in Civic Society, Lewisham. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Rise of Local Citizen Journalism?

  1. BrockleyNick says:

    Thanks Andrew, I appreciate the kind comments. I’d add that the quality of reader comment – in terms of knowledge, ideas and wit – is a vital part of the mix.

    I started the blog because I was frustrated that much of the information I wanted wasn’t online and I didn’tt even receive a local newspaper. SE4U magazine does a good job but is infrequent and can’t offer the depth or immediacy I wanted.

    One of the great things about having a blog is that people are surprisingly willing to take you seriously as a “proper” journalist and so I have had an excuse to meet and talk to some really interesting people, doing great things in the area.

    The Council have been willing to communicate from a very early stage – Cllrs Dean and Sue were among the first posters.

  2. andrewkbrown says:

    You’re right of course that having people feedback in such a constructive spirit is the essence of a successful blog.

    It’s less the politicians than the bureaucracy that I’m pleased to see responding positively. Politicians should have a in-built desire to engage and communicate with their electorate, and both Dean and Sue I’m sure are good examples of that. Bureaucracies on the other hand can have a tendency to not to want to engage. That said I’ve never seen Lewisham as particularly closed, just occasionally over cautious.

  3. jameshigham says:

    I’ve not really brought into the citizen journalism idea …

    You haven’t brought into it or you haven’t bought into it, Andrew?

  4. andrewkbrown says:

    Bought, James. Sorry about that.

  5. I think this sort of thing is going to become vital, with the freesheets being so bad. Although the sale of the South London Press/ Mercury group might change things.

    Anyway, there might well be a development on that front from the Greenwich side of the border soon, but I only say that to tease and make myself look important 😉

  6. andrewkbrown says:

    Which of course you do and you are!

  7. Bob says:

    I think maybe “citizen journalism” is the wrong way to think about it. It’s more an extension onto the web of civic activism. The Forest Hill Soc blog enhances the work of the Forest Hill Soc. Brockley Central blog does something akin to what the Brockley X Action Group does. This is better than journalism. You wouldn’t visit such blogs for definitive news, but as a space of engagement in the life of the community.

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