Ten hyperlocal blogs covering areas in and around Birmingham will be publishing a live blog of Monday evening's local Labour leadership election hustings ahead of the vote taking place on 23 November.
The live blog is produced by Birmingham Eastside, a student-run website, and will also appear on Sutton Coldfield Local, B31 Voices, Birmingham Updates, Newsinbrum, Bournville Village, Tyburn Mail, MyJQ, Jewellery Quarter Neighbourhood Forum, and Moseley B13 Magazine.
Birmingham Eastside was set up by Paul Bradshaw, MA Online Journalism course leader at Birmingham City University. The site, edited by Diana Gangan, was shortlisted for the Guardian Student Media Awards 2015 earlier this month.
"I definitely think [collaboration] is something that can be done more," said Bradshaw, "and I think it's something that local newspapers should be doing more and other organisations as well."
Collaborative coverage of elections like the Labour leadership vote happening next week are an opportunity to extend the reach of "what's quite an important civic discussion".
"It's not about hits, this is about democracy, journalism's role within that, and if you're serious about performing that role."
Journalism students from Birmingham City University also worked together with hyperlocals in the area such as Sutton Coldfield Local during the general election, producing audio and video coverage.
"Live blogs are a perfect vehicle for that sort of collaboration because all we need to do is share the embed code for the live blog and all that the hyperlocal blogs have to do is copy and paste that into a post," said Bradshaw.
The vote will decide the next leader of Birmingham City Council, and the campaign has seen its share of controversy so far as candidates were told not to take part in any hustings.
The event taking place Monday, which will be covered by Birmingham Eastside, was organised by political blogger Pauline Geoghegan, who runs @newsinbrum.
There is also another election hustings scheduled for later this week, put together by local outlet the Birmingham Post.
Local news outlets should be looking to build a more collaborative relationship with active blogs in the community, said Bradshaw.
But competing for the audience's attention can hold regional media back from starting up collaborative initiatives, and even from highlighting "competing events".
The Birmingham Post has not covered Monday's hustings ahead of the event as much as it could have done, said Bradshaw.
There are two aspects local outlets should take into consideration when thinking about working together with community bloggers, he added.
These initiatives could also open the door to other commercial benefits, such as working out a revenue share with the hyperlocals around embeddable advertising.
While for some outlets, live blogs cannot be embedded on other web pages as they are part of a proprietary content management system, offering other embeddable pieces of content such as video or audio streams would be an easy solution.
"[And] even before you start to think about hits and visits and so on, if you are trying to persuade people that you play an important role in your local area, then providing that sort of civic content and sharing it with other hyperlocal blogs I think is a really important part of building those relationships," said Bradshaw.
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