How we are creating a virtual newsroom: hyperlocal style!

Sarah Cheverton (@Cheversar), Editor-in-Chief of Star and Crescent

We thought social media was a box that just had to be ticked, then we could move on. We occasionally posted some stories on social media, if and when we remembered

We want to create a news website that reaches the places other local news outlets are failing to reach. Our focus was solely on editorial. We wanted to produce high quality news, commentary and satire for our city because as far as we could see, it was lacking all three. At the start, we did not think social media was important. Sure, we made a Facebook page, we created a Twitter account, but we barely used them and we certainly didn’t monitor them in any meaningful way. We thought social media was a box that just had to be ticked, then we could move on. We occasionally posted some stories on social media, if and when we remembered.

This meme played an important role in introducing us to the idea that we could be playful with local politics as well as provocative on social media.

As we always wanted to publish satire as core content, this meme played an important role in introducing us to the idea that we could be playful with local politics as well as provocative on social media.

When we took a fresh look at our social media presence we realised it was a bit rubbish. Our digital identity didn’t reflected who we were or our purpose. We decided to address this by using a meme reflecting a local preoccupation with dog mess on the streets. As we always wanted to publish satire as core content, this meme played an important role in introducing us to the idea that we could be playful with local politics as well as provocative on social media. We could shape our identity in a positive way and really differentiate us from our competitors.

We became aware of some devastating cuts to frontline services for domestic abuse victims

For us the challenge is not to discourage anyone from commenting, but to encourage people to get involved in the conversation.

Our first social media campaign was a big learning curve. Since then, we’ve gone on to use it as the main way to source content, as well as to engage with our readers. Because a lot of our content is political commentary, we often attract quite heated responses. A key question for us has been: When they talk to us, how do we talk back? For us the challenge is not to discourage anyone from commenting, but to encourage people to get involved in the conversation. To reflect our identity, we also like to keep it playful.

Another challenge for us in building our virtual newsroom is around quality control. Working with a team of people you’ve never actually met is a lot harder than when you all share an office.

Another challenge for us in building our virtual newsroom is around quality control. Working with a team of people you’ve never actually met is a lot harder than when you all share an office. As a result, we currently work very closely with our contributors on fine-tweaking and editing work so that we can maintain a consistent quality that our readers can trust. Most of this quality control takes place online, and it’s very time consuming. However, it allows us to build strong, positive relationships with our contributors and co-editors, even though we rarely meet them face to face. Because our core team of three are all still volunteers and we have a very small income based on reader donations, our newsroom is likely to stay virtual for some time yet.

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Abhay Adhikari

Abhay Adhikari

I am interested in the context & values of our Digital Identities.