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February 1, 2010

What does hyperlocal community media mean and can it help you?

Filed under: Featured — andrewchilvers @ 4:43 pm
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My 10 year old went to a real-life Willy Wonka land with the school recently. Afterwards, he came home beaming, eyes bright and arms heavy with assorted chocolate bars and sweeties. He’d been to the Cadbury-owned Bournville factory near Birmingham and wanted to take us all back there soon.

Unfortunately, Cadbury sold out to Kraft for £11.9 million a few weeks later and on hearing about the takeover he asked: “Dad, why do Americans have to take Cadbury’s away from us?” genuinely mystified.

I replied: “Because lots of people will make lots of money.”

“Can we still all go there?”

“Probably not.”

At this point I don’t want to descend into an anti-capitalist rant about greed, big business, asset stripping healthy companies and not giving a toss about the little guy (although I just have), but what I find most distasteful is the £240 million the lawyers, accountants, bankers and PR agents have pocketed from the deal. The gadflies in a feeding frenzy round the cash cow’s arse, if you like. “It’s drinks all round and holidays in the Maldives, guys.”

Meanwhile, everyone living around Bournville will be fearful for their jobs, their livelihoods, their families and lucky if they get a break at Skegness this year.

Ironically, the Cadbury family first built a model village for the Bournville factory workers 100-odd years ago and it’s their descendants who will be the prime targets for impoverishment after Kraft start to apply economies of scale to its new investment.

So what’s all this got to do with CandE (communication and engagement)? Well, a lot actually.

Hyperlocal media involves people getting together to write blogs, film videos and generally connect with everyone in the local community about local issues. The idea is that if people get involved they can make a difference – and even change things for the better.

Recently, Niki Getgood spoke about hyperlocal media initiatives, including working on a local project for Bournville, at the Birmingham social media café (more on this in the next blog). Here she is talking about it.

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I’ve also attached a quick commentary by William Perrin – who is part of the Power of Information Taskforce – talking about how hyperlocal initiatives can help to change your environment.

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Of course, none of this will save jobs or mortgages in Bournville, but when communities engage they can help improve the lives of people who would otherwise be isolated and disenfranchised.

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