31 January 2008

Northcliffe Launches “Community Conversation”

A Northcliffe newspaper has unveiled a new website dedicated to user-generated content.

Hull Daily Mail Editor John Meehan says the innovative thisisyourmail.co.uk is best summed up as a “community conversation”, where users can post news, socialise and join interest groups online.

Like similar initiatives in the US, the website is divided into key areas encompassing hyperlocal news content submitted by local people and reporters, a comments section and social networking pages called All Yours with personal profiles and groups.

Innovators at the Hull Daily Mail have also struck an original note with the My Family section, intended to enable families spread across the globe to keep in touch.

Group members can post updates and photos which can be kept private from the view of non-members and the idea already appears to be a hit with users with plenty of families already signed up.

Meehan told Press Gazette: “This isn’t just another form of community news - in fact only a relatively small proportion of the content could be described as news.”

The editor also said the site cannot be defined as a citizen journalism venture or a social networking tool.

He added: “There are elements of it but we needed another description and we have coined the phrase community conversation.”

The site also has some nifty features such as rating buttons for comments and charts of the most popular posts and prolific contributors.

Users are asked to help police the pages since moderators will only edit content which could pose legal problems or is judged to be inappropriate.

“If we put a barrier between the users and publishing their content and introduce a delay, that is going to have a very negative impact,” explained Meehan.

“We believe the immediacy and interactivity of the site are very important to its chance of success.

“We have put in place a variety of what we believe are robust measures to ensure that the content that we get on the site is legal and responsible.”

Press Gazette reports that Northcliffe is aiming for 12,000 unique visitors per month within the next 12 months.

And a successful first year is likely to see the format rolled out across other Northcliffe titles.

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