Omni Digital, Cardiff University’s Independent Community News Network (ICNN) and UCLan worked together to develop an innovative new platform to help increase revenue for hyperlocal journalists across the UK.
Hyperlocal journalism delivers news from a small, defined area, giving a voice to a local community. Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Culture has been central in supporting hyperlocal journalists through their Centre for Community Journalism (C4CJ) and the Independent Community News Network (ICNN). A key challenge identified is how hyperlocal journalism is often used by regional newsrooms without being appropriately credited, attributed or reimbursed.
A technical proposal was developed which successfully secured a six-figure sum from the Google Digital News Innovation Fund to develop, promote and manage the platform. Google DNI is a European-wide fund that is geared towards supporting innovation journalism and the media.
The project aims to help create a more sustainable culture around hyperlocal journalism.
Through software development Omni Digital created the first application, Ping!, a centralised location where journalists can upload content via a plugin and a one-stop-shop platform for news desks nationwide to easily and quickly access local news stories. It supports the generation of new revenue for hyperlocal journalists throughout the UK, and reduces the amount of content being used without permission.
Hyperlocals needed more revenue from the stories they create to create a more sustainable news ecosystem and regional and national publishers need access to rich content from every region of the UK on demand.
The Ping app aggregates local community and public interest news stories from across the UK and distributes them to regional and national news desks on demand via a monthly subscription – creating new revenue streams for the UK’s independent sector and helping to create a more sustainable and diverse news ecosystem.
Hyperlocal journalists can upload content to the platform. Journalists are often up against tight deadlines and may be working remotely; Ping! is secure, simple to use, and provides full functionality on a variety of viewport sizes, offering a high speed of content delivery and flexibility.
Larger newsrooms or buyers search for and purchase content that they may want to publish to a wider audience. To ensure the surfacing of the most relevant news within the app for the newsroom users, content is categorised by subject, providing easy and efficient sourcing of news and identifying trends and larger features. With two tailored user-interfaces Ping! serves both audiences effectively.
Data is being gathered to help shape future iterations of the software, making it a sustainable, adaptable design that can evolve alongside the industry and continue to deliver value.
Ping! is designed to be used by journalists and newsrooms on a daily basis. There are keyboard shortcuts, no distracting animations, and colour is used to show users where they are able to interact with an element in the user interface, creating an intuitive user experience.
Ping! enables content to be copyrighted and the sale of content to be tracked, providing transparency over authorship and reducing the risk of copyright breaches. The aim of the project is to improve the current workflows by giving smaller journalists scale while preserving independence in an industry dominated by large news outlets.
“Independent community journalism is the most trusted source of public interest journalism. But without generating new revenue streams, the sector faces an uncertain future. With Ping! Omni digital and ICNN have developed a platform that does just that. By uplifting independent community news, regional and national publishers have access to hundreds of professional journalists, thousands of public interest news articles and can spot trending stories as they emerge and most importantly, the hyperlocal sector can grow and flourish.”