Behind Local News conference— live coverage

Welcome to the live coverage of the first Behind Local News journalism conference.

The event will take place at Molineux Stadium on June 23, starting at 10.15am.

The day will feature a mixture of panel sessions, speakers and hands-on workshops to provide inspiration for the future of local news in a digital world.

The event is supported by Google and Chartbeat who will take part in sessions alongside journalists from across the UK.

It is put on by Reach Media, Johnston Press and Newsquest.

A live stream of the event can be viewed on the Behind Local News Facebook page from 10.15am.

Live updates to follow here…

5.20 Marc Reeves, Editor-in-Chief of West Midlands Reach Plc

Marc Reeves wraps up the day.

He speaks on the lessons learnt today:

  1. We have got the tools to do the job
“With great tools come great responsibility”

2. Engagements, relationships, relevance and trust are key

Where do we go next?

Birmingham’s Motto is one word, “Forward”.

“We should embrace new platforms and help our colleagues to keep going forward.”

5pm ‘10 things you can do in your newsroom tomorrow’ by Alison Gow, Digital Editor-in-chief Reach Plc.

  1. Who/what/where/when/why applies when trying to innovate content
“An innovation lives or dies depending on whether people actually care about it”

In house Facebook groups and daily calls help to share and articulate ideas throughout editorial.

2. Have deadlines

Know what you’re trying to achieve, when you want to get it done for and set benchmarks.

“A to B plans are better than A to Z”.

3. Accept failure

“If it does happen, talk about it and take something away”.

4. Don’t be turned away by a lack of time or equipment

5. Use programs such as Shorthand Social to aid innovation projects.

6. Don’t always wait to be perfect

“Be a friendly voice in an empty room” when it comes to social media.

7. Try making your newsroom entirely mobile for a day

8. Share your stories

“If you involve people in what you’re thinking of they will share their own experiences of it”.

9. Make documents such as agendas more accessible to the community

10. Use opportunities within your own community, social tools can help to make these apparent.

4.40pm What can regional newsrooms learn from digital pure-plays?

Editor in Chief South East and Cambridge Ceri Gould speaks with Buzzfeed editor Luke Bailey.

Luke says: “Pure-play news allows a brand to become much more diverse, which is particularly helpful for local news where trust with readers is so important”.

Ceri says stories should be formatted in a vast amount of ways, including listicals, data and video to increase interaction and traffic.

Conversational headlines are discussed as Luke argues that is the way to drive traffic to stories.

He says this style of headline adds the missing piece to stories, adding details into headlines which help readers contextualize stories to their own lives. This makes readers more likely to engage.

Two things local journalists should do every week:

  1. Data journalism — look at a mix of metrics to form an overview of how a website is doing as a whole
  2. Read comments from readers to grasp what they actually care about in a story

4pm Data Journalism discussion panel

Head of News Partnerships for UK Google Benedicte Autret chairs a panel on how data journalism can work in the newsroom.

Director of Bureau Local Megan Lucero says equipping journalists is so important to source stories that couldn’t be sourced before.

Pete Sherlock from the BBC Shared Data Unit takes to the stage. His team provides a “journalist’s toolkit for stories” by analysing public data on an area of public interest such as crime and education. Quotes, images and other data are all made available for journalists to put together news.

Should all journalists be data journalists?

Megan Lucero says: “There is an element that people need to be aware of where their information comes from. You need to know how things are possible.”

3.20pm Emma Meese, manager of the Centre for Community Journalism and Jane Haynes, hyperlocal editor speak on community journalism.

Is there an opportunity for hyperlocal and independent news sites to work together with local media?

Emma says: “If you have limited resources on the ground with your journalists, collaboration is useful.”

Jane Hayes revealed that the reality of how community started to get covered was disappointing.

She says we’re struggling on a “community of margins” and “communities deserve and need a media which fights for them”.

What a collaboration could mean:

  • Sharing meeting diaries
  • Ensuring community events are covered
  • Using joint resources
  • Financial agreements

2.45pm How can local journalists stand out from the crowd on Twitter?

Corinne Podger poses a question to Jenni Phillips of GloucestershireLive

Digital Media Consultant Corinne Podger chairs a discussion about the role journalists play in getting the correct information onto social media , and the challenges faced by local journalists.

Jennifer Williams, Manchester Evening News says: “If I express an opinion on Twitter, I try to base it on journalistic evidence”.
Warrington Guardian’s Hannah Bargery says: “You’ve got to get involved with your audience and what your audience are tweeting about.”

Social media editor of Gloucestershire Live Jenni Phillips says engagement is just as important as page views to get people to interact with a brand.

She says if the media make a mistake and admit it by becoming part of the audience’s conversation, it makes the page stand out in the community.

Yorkshire Evening Post’s Leeds United reporter Phil Hay answers a question on how to separate sports news from a saturated market.

He says: “Try to get as close to the clubs as you possibly can and be as accurate as any of the nationals in the room. Good content does come down to the best stories like the transfer stories, which are what everyone is after.”

2.20pm Head of News at Twitter Jo Kelly speaks on the latest developments from Twitter and how to make the most of the social media platform.

“We help people share, discuss and debate newsworthy issues with each other.”

55% of live video audiences on Twitter are below 25, showing that young people are interested in news but want to view it in different ways.

1.45pm Joy Yates, Editorial Director of JP North East steps up to introduce Nic Newman, Research Associate Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

Nic speaks on the future of news within a growing digital industry.

His research shows only 43% of people trust the news and a quarter of people in the UK actively avoid it.

However, he says fake news has helped journalism as people are now “crying out for something better”.

“People are consuming more news than ever before on more outlets”.

What is the value of local news in a digital age?

  • “If you look at news itself, it has become less important. People won’t pay for it in the same way. So what we see is local newsrooms using service journalism, campaigns, solutions journalism and community involvement”.
  • Sparks conversation with the local community to turn members of the community into advocates.
  • Great, functional experiences. News should be accessible across every platform.
“Digital offers more ways to get closer to audiences than ever before.
Start to understand the possibilities of technology”

1.15pm Quotes from the day so far…

“I’ve loved talking to people in local news as it’s given me a real perspective of the challenges people have” — Jill Nichollson, Chartbeat
“I was in the Google workshop with Vincent Ryan which was very interesting for learning new ideas to introduce to newsrooms. It was also interesting learning how other newsrooms are making metrics work for them.” — Jenna Thompson, Digital Editor at Hull Live
“It’s been really good to be in a room with so many like-minded people with one passion in story telling and it’s good to get an insight into how others work. It’s refreshing.” — Matt Millington, Leeds Live, Reach Media
“It’s been good to pick up snippets of the best stuff people are doing to bring back to the newsroom and apply to every day journalism.” — Dan Milligan, Newcastle’s Chronicle Live
“I was very inspired by Keith Harrison’s talk around folks in local news highlighting the importance of local journalism” — Ashley Frankino — Chartbeat

11.55am The audience splits up for workshops:

  • Learning about Google Tools by Vincent Ryan
  • Creating newsletters in newsrooms by Paul Gallagher
  • All you need to know about Mojo journalism by Corinne Podger
  • Twitter workshop by Jo Kelly

11.10 Sarah Chapman chairs a panel discussing news ways of using metrics in the newsroom.

Anna Jeys from BirminghamLive on the metrics panel

Regional Head of Digital Midlands from Reach Plc Anna Jeys says the biggest change for Birmingham Live has been from focusing on blunt figures to reader engagement, and ensuring that data is spread across the newsroom.

Court live blogs are six times more engaging than a usual court story.

6 things Birmingham Live has picked up:

  • Statistics don’t work in the hands of just a few people
  • Reporters need context to apply data to their roles
  • What doesn’t work is often more important than what is working to boost engagement
  • Different metrics can motivate staff in more niche roles
  • Weekly meetings and updates are important
  • Trends data should be used before large story coverage to know what readers are looking for in advance.

BBC Digital England’s audience engagement lead Danielle Dwyer says stories can always be improved and journalists are accountable for their own story engagement numbers even after publication.

Johnston Press Yorkshire’s Mark Thompson says stories that are important to people’s daily lives on top of hard news do well. Weather, bin collections and Ofsted stories attract page views because they are important topics for local people.

Chartbeat’s Ashley Frankino says engagement is not a ‘one size fits all’ situation. She says metrics will help journalists to take action to tweak stories before readers move on.

Editor at the Daily Echo, Bournemouth Andy Martin says business is about prosperity and people. He says the introduction of ‘Monday Start-Up’ focusing on new businesses, ‘Wednesday Boss’ focusing on businesses doing particularly well, and ‘Friday Digital’ focusing on apps and innovations has given readers the opportunity to see the business stories they want to engage in.

10.30am Jill Nicholson from Chartbeat talks to the audience about reader research on how people engage with content.

She says it is much easier to reach readers through Facebook rather than Twitter.

2016 was the first time Google was used more on mobile than anywhere else. By the end of this year, it is predicted more than 95% readers coming from Facebook will be using a mobile.

45% of people leave stories they click on within the first 15 seconds. 
Jill says engagement is most important as the longer readers stay on stories, the more likely they are to come back.

“The Homepage is not dead. It’s just like everything else, its role has changed.”

A Chartbeat study into homepage linguistics showed:

  • Demonstrative pronouns such as ‘this’ get more people to click.
  • Negative words attract more homepage attention
  • Interrogative words grab attention — but not the ‘?’ punctuation itself. Jill said: “It’s the difference between ‘Where can you go to vote” and “Where you can go to vote”.

A question to Jill asks what makes good video.

Her tips are:

  • Don’t build larger video packages that your audience has engagement for.
  • The biggest video success comes from equal amounts of video and written engagement.

10.15am Keith Harrison, editor of the Express and Star in Wolverhampton, takes to the stage.

Keith welcomes people to Wolverhampton and starts the day off by explaining there has never been a more important time for journalism.

The motto for Wolverhampton is ‘Out of Darkness Cometh Light.’ Keith spoke around this motto, linking to the media industry and how, with determination, the media can work towards a bright future.

He said: “Local news readers are fun loving, straight talking, hard working and tough as old boots” and the media industry is the same.
“Be positive, be passionate, do something.”