Not special pleading at all, just raising a point of identity. I don’t buy hyperlocal as a genre at all and feel uncomfortable with it (always have done). I do think it’s used as a catch all to encapsulate media that doesn’t fit the model as such. The second point was the desire to engage more hyperlocals in the awards. I don’t see how judging them alongside columnists achieves that?
I get your point on doing what other media does — I see LichfieldLive in that way — but I would argue that there’s plenty of categories to reflect other media, yet hyperlocal (if we are calling it that) is thrown in with completely unrelated areas. By the logic of 'we are all doing the same thing deep down' then surely there’s no need for separate categories for daily and weekly media? Or for broadcast and print?
If the inclusion of hyperlocal is really about celebrating these sorts of endeavours then shouldn’t they be highlighted rather than scrapping it out with columnists?
There’s also a side issue of whether those who do journalism without the support network of media groups behind them should be identified in some way, but it’s all part of the discussion around who or what hyperlocal — and journalism itself — is.