Tag Archives: Fuse Festival

The day my hyperlocal blog post was published in a major regional newspaper

Plenty of people will be skeptical about this bit of news but boy am I excited. I’d love to hear if this has happened before or not, but so far it’s the first time that I’m aware of, and I’m chuffed it’s me.

If you pick up a copy of the Birmingham Mail today you will see, on page 29, an article about Lichfield’s Fuse Festival that I originally wrote for The Lichfield Blog, and with pictures taken by our resident photographer, Nick Brickett.

This represents the first fruit from what looks like a very healthy tree of collaboration between the hyperlocal site I volunteer for and Britain’s biggest newspaper group. It’s the realisation of my long held vision of how hyperlocal will contribute to the local media industry – what I like to call the ‘news onion‘.

David Higgerson and I lead a #TAL10 panel on collaboration between hyperlocal and regional media.
David Higgerson and I lead a #TAL10 panel on collaboration between hyperlocal and regional media.*

Trinity Mirror’s David Higgerson and I led a session at the Talk About Local unconference in Leeds back in April that dealt specifically with collaboration between organisations like ours. We went through ideas for how we could work together, and took many suggestions and comments from the audience. In all I felt it was productive and it helped David and I to move forward with our own collaboration of which today is the culmination.

The details of how this relationship will mature are still undecided but there is certainly more to come and plenty more discussions to be had. That said, the next few months will prove very exciting.

*Photo by the venerable Josh Halliday.

Two men spent 24 hours taking over 2,000 photos and 4.5 hours of video, sending 79 tweets and 25 twitpics. That’s hyperlocal event reporting.

Every year in Lichfield there is an event in Beacon Park called Fuse Festival. It’s an arts festival, with three tents hosting a various mix of music, performance and workshops. 2010 was it’s 10th year in Beacon Park and just like we did last year, Nick and I went down to cover it for The Lichfield Blog.

We did a bit more this year, though. Between us;

  • over 2,000 photos
  • over 4.5 hours of high-definition video
  • 79 tweets from dedicated account, @Fuse_Live
  • 25 twitpics

In total we worked for 24 hours, doing 6 hours on Friday, 11 on Saturday and 7 on Sunday. We managed to squeeze in the British Grand Prix and of course the odd pint.

Nick and I showing off our TLB polo-shirts.
Nick and I showing off our TLB polo-shirts.

It was a pretty big effort and by Sunday we were in the baking heat having had far too little sleep (though the many pints of Weston’s Perry didn’t help) and wishing to be back home in bed.

Still, we pulled it off and although we had a couple of technical glitches (including losing half of that 4.5 hours of video) it was largely a success. Being the way I am it really made me think – if we can make that kind of effort for fun and with last-minute purchases and borrowing of equipment, what could we do if we were paid?

On Saturday we were invited by Formula Ford driver and Burntwood lad, James Tucker, to Rockingham to watch him take part in the championship for his new team, JTR. Obviously that wasn’t enough for us though so we put on our blog gear and while Nick took lots of great photos, I borrowed James’ Twitter account and tweeted his progress on the day.¬†This weekend we’ll be heading down the road to Burntwood Wakes, another music festival and we’ll do a similar job there.

Where it’s within our ‘patch’ we’ll keep doing this for free because we care (though maybe we’ll tone it down for next year’s Fuse) but it strikes me there’s the potential for us to take this kind of reporting out and sell it to people. Festivals of all sorts can be assured of a good buzz and good coverage of their event with such a service (like the Midlands Music Festival which just took place down the road in Tamworth).

James Tucker introduced us to a couple of Lichfield lads who race as well who we could do a similar job for. If we expanded that to all the drivers we could charge them and kill two birds with one stone whilst making it financially viable to continue reporting the Lichfield lads for free.

Just a though, but one that we’re experimenting with and seeing where it takes us….

Also, check out Warren’s great coverage of the Midlands Music Festival.

Recognition for The Lichfield Blog just keeps on growing…

When I first got involved in The Lichfield Blog back in February this year I had no idea that six months later I’d be writing a business plan for a brand new social enterprise.

The Lichfield Blog banner up at Fuse Acoustic '09
The Lichfield Blog banner up at Fuse Acoustic '09

I never thought I’d be looking at stats showing an average of 11,000 visitors each month (equivalent to over 10% of Lichfield District’s population* and a third of the circulation of leading print weekly, the Lichfield Mercury). Nor did I imagine it would spur such cool things as Lichfield Social Media Cafe and Lichfield Social Media Surgeries (both still in planning). I would have laughed if you’d have told me I’d be live-streaming local artists at Lichfield’s Fuse Festival. A look of disbelief would accompany the thought of our MP, Mike Fabricant advertising on the site.

I knew we’d do lots of very cool things with it – as seems to be customary now my brain buzzed with ideas for exciting developments as soon as I saw it. I’m taken aback by the way things have played out though.

When I first started working freelance in November 2007 my aim was to be a leader in my industry. The heavy involvement in The Lichfield Blog and the recognition it’s seen has proven to me that I’m starting to achieve that.

That recognition has seen a massive boost over the past few weeks for two big reasons. The first is securing Michael Fabricant MP as an advertiser on the blog. He was our third advertiser and (we think) the first MP to advertise on a hyperlocal media site. Rick Waghorn of Addiply (the ad system we use) took the opportunity to shout about it that very afternoon at NewsInnovation London. I saw the tweets rolling in and I could barely contain my elation at having made such an impact.

Second reason, and the inspiration for this post, is that today Lichfield District Council have (after I sent them a cheeky tweet) changed their “Local Newspapers” section to “Local Media” and included The Lichfield Blog. They’re even syndicating us! I’m still undecided as to whether to check the other 353 local government district web sites to see if Lichfield is the only one to do so…

Both of these also come after what I consider to be a huge compliment from Birmingham Mail who recently started syndicating us along with our friends, Tamworth Blog and local blogger, Brownhill’s Bob. I call this traditional and new media meeting and getting along nicely – aka a sneak peak into the future of local media.

I know this is just the start though. All this has been achieved with the only expenditure being less than ¬£100 and the time of a small team of dedicated and passionate volunteers (I say only, but it takes a lot of time). With the extra help and support we’re hoping to get as part of our future plans it’s obvious to me that The Lichfield Blog is going to move on leaps and bounds.

I can’t wait!

* based on data from the Office for National Statistics.

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