Editorial: Community news proves its value in a crisis

Sunday Supplement

Our detailed look back on the stories that we have been talking about in Moray…..

The value of community news sites such as insideMoray are perhaps never more apparent than when the region it serves is facing a major crisis.

That is why it was particularly heart warming this week to be able to report in detail on the developing events in the storms precipitated by the tail-end of Hurricane Bertha.

In the past people affected by such events had to rely solely on the traditional media sources of radio, television and written press.

They did a fantastic job – still do – but with Social Media sites allowing people to feed in how such disasters are affecting their own street, their homes, their businesses – all on a minute-by-minute basis in words, pictures and videos – now that is a whole new ballgame.

It is also the ‘hyper-local’ nature of community news sites and their attending social media gathering points that are being seen to come into their own under such circumstances. While ‘official’ sources provided by such as Moray Council are well and good, their dry, official and yes all too often defensive persona does not really cut it with the public.

What people need in such circumstances is the honest truth about the crisis facing them in their own streets – and that is what we witnessed on insideMoray and WeHeartMoray both on the web and social media platforms.

From a failed commercial idea – a successful community one?

When STV brought hyper-local reporting to Moray I was more than a little enthusiastic – perhaps even too enthusiastic – at the prospect and fought hard to ‘get the gig’ as a Community Editor.

Alas, in the end commercial concerns of the television network overtook their ambitious project, it ended because it was not so universally accepted in other parts of the country as it was in Moray.

Now, perhaps strangely, the participation figures for insideMoray have far overtaken those achieved by STV Local in Moray.

I suspect the main reason for this is that people are quite simply recognising a community web site that exists to serve the community with no great commercial ambition is a far more attractive proposition.

This website was largely an experiment created to do the things that the STV Local originally intended – engage people at street-by-street level in the activities around them.

It is an experiment that is working out fine – but we need to do more.

So when it was suggested this week that we go out into the community and take on ‘pop-up shops’ I was delighted to note the overwhelming ‘Yes’ vote from our readers.

I’m looking forward to our first community ‘press office’ in Keith at the end of September – the aim is that with the cooperation of landlords who currently have empty shops on their hands, this will be a regular event in every town and village in Moray.

insideMoray’s weekly ‘reach’ on social media site Facebook this week reached a record 108,000 (‘reach’ is the number of people to whom our posts are exposed along with the likes, comments and shares enjoyed by the site). The number of people who joined our Facebook community leapt by over 500 to a total of 7,550+. Our community news site is now by far the most followed resources of its type in Moray.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://insidemoray.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/stuart.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]A former journalist with Scottish Television’s online services, Stuart was a career civil servant having joined the Scottish Office in 1983 after nine years in the Royal Air Force.

‘Retired’ to take up a post with Hibernian FC before moving to Moray where he worked for STV Local on their community websites in Forres, Buckie, Elgin and Lossiemouth. At the start of 2013 Stuart left STV to contest the Heldon and Laich ward for the SNP.

Having failed to convince the electorate he took a post as Communications and Outreach officer for Moray’s MP, Angus Robertson, and MSP, Richard Lochhead.

Stuart took on a part-time role as marketing and communications officer for the World Orienteering Championships to be held around Inverness/Moray in August 2015.

insideMORAY is Stuart’s way of keeping one hand on community journalism while keeping retirement at arms length![/author_info] [/author]

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