Fri. Apr 26th, 2019

Hyperlocal journalism: find out what's happening on your street | Trends

Hyperlocal journalism: find out what's happening on your street | Trends


A hotbed of ephemeral art. That will be the Madrid neighborhood of Malasaña next June 9, when more than a hundred artists will assault its streets with brushes, brushes, sprays and other weapons that will fill with color the most diverse surfaces: walls, blinds, glass, floors, bollards ... If the action of bodypainting from previous years, in Pinta Malasaña there will be up to human canvases.

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The neighbors of the area know well the main promoter of this cultural festival that mobilizes different associations, local merchants and big brands that sponsor their different activities: We are Malasaña, a neighborhood newspaper that was born in 2009, in full crisis of the means of Spanish communication. Not in vain, between 2008 and 2013, registered unemployment in the sector soared by 132%, according to data from the Madrid Press Association. "The closure of media of all types and dimensions left a large number of professionals in the street who were forced to create their own news media, taking advantage of the facilities offered by information technologies and the digitalization of society", highlights the Annual Report of the Journalistic Profession 2017.

On some occasions, this entrepreneurial impulse led to the creation of proximity projects such as Somos Malasaña, a hyperlocal medium on the current situation in this Madrid neighborhood. "They joined the desire to do street journalism with the fact that the local sections of the newspapers were reducing their pages because of the crisis, so it was a niche that we wanted to enter head to move the digital world conversations of the Plaza del Barrio ", says Antonio Pérez, founding partner and director of the online header.

Ten years after its birth, not only has 150,000 unique monthly users, but it is one of the initiatives financed by Google through the Digital News Initiative (DNI) program, which promotes innovative journalistic projects. The funds of the technological giant are destined to the development of a platform from which small businesses can manage by themselves the ads they publish in Somos Malasaña. At the moment, advertising accounts for between 30 and 40% of the income of this newspaper, while the rest comes from the organization of cultural events and festivals with which they boost the artistic and commercial activity of the neighborhood, such as Pinta Malasaña, Malakids or cocktail routes.

Emilio Antolín (left), Gloria Martínez and Miguel Pérez, from 'Triana al día' and 'Nervión al día'.
  • Social and cultural agitators

We are journalists and from the beginning we were clear that we should do something super professional and very careful, where the neighbors will find what touches them more closely and what is not dealt with by other media. We started to make hyperlocal news with the opportunities that the new technologies gave us, but without neglecting the commercial vision to be able to live on it ", comments Pérez. In that initial search for advertisers, those responsible for Somos Malasaña discovered that there was a lack of a link that would unite the different neighborhood collectives. "It was not among our plans, but we naturally became cultural and social agitators because we knew all the neighbors, so in the end we founded the current merchants' association and promoted the platform that organizes Malasaña parties."

In this trajectory, Pérez recognizes that things would not have been the same without the boom of the Internet in the mobile and the interaction with the contents in social networks, something that helped them to create community around their project of proximity. Data from the Press Association of Madrid gives the reason, while the largest growth of unique users in online media is concentrated in local digital proposals and, above all, access from mobile platforms. For example, between the months of July 2016 and 2017, the total number of unique users of Spanish digital media increased by 17%, while those of local online proposals increased by 22%. And if only visits from mobile devices are taken into account, the figures become 24% and 31%, respectively.

Arnau Nadeu, by Línia Sants.
  • Exciting, but hard beginnings

The beginnings of Somos Malasaña were followed very closely by the Sevillian journalist Miguel Pérez Martín, who at the time was residing in Madrid. "After five years in the capital, I returned to my city and during a talk with my faculty colleagues Emilio Antolín and Gloria Martínez we saw the need to do something similar in Seville to spread the news that affects your immediate environment," he says. Thus were born in March 2013, Triana a day and Nervión a día, which collect information from the streets where their three founders grew up. Now, each month these publications add up to 100,000 page views and 45,000 unique users and their revenues come only from local merchants.

Pérez Martín recalls that the beginnings of his hyperlocal media were "very exciting, but very hard" because they did not have any type of subsidy or sponsorship, so as not to depend on anyone. "Soon we saw a brutal advance accompanied by an emotional component because it is your own neighbors who recognize that effort and begin to count on you to become a speaker of everything related to the neighborhood." In addition, the launch was facilitated by access to new technologies: from simplicity to assemble a web with some basic notions to the use of smartphones to cover news. "Now we even broadcast live events with a good image quality and among the three founders we bought a camera that records in 360 degrees with which we make content that no one would expect from a neighborhood newspaper," says Pérez Martín.

The stories that emphasize the emotional and service vocation of these media get a greater identification among the neighbors. In the case of these two Sevillian neighborhoods, its founders point out that Triana has always had a lot of identity, but Nervión, being newer, needed the creation of associations that have been emerging during the last years, some of them from the publication of hyperlocal news about a social complaint that prompted mobilizations and collections of signatures. "This shows that it is a very necessary journalism."

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