Going Local

Opinion piece by Fiona Grahame

“You can never get all the facts from just one newspaper, and unless you have all the facts, you cannot make proper judgements about what is going on. Harry S Truman” (Brainy Quote)

It is 6 months since The Orkney News launched as a way of bringing the alternative news to our community. Despite the doubters who said that there was not enough news to sustain us – here we are going from strength to strength.

Local newspapers are incredibly important for raising issues that may otherwise not get heard about. They connect people together who might feel isolated. And they publish articles that the nationals are not interested in (until they are ).

Local news is everything that is relevant to where you live. It can be micro news and of interest to only a few people but for those few people to get that information and to be heard is of utmost importance. It can also be national and international news and how it will directly and indirectly affect you. Brexit whether or not you are for or against will have an enormous effect on Orkney so local news needs to be looking at its impact.

Many traditional local newspapers are no longer owned by people who live in their community having been bought over by a larger company. Traditional publishing is expensive and limits what you can do but we have so many more tools that we can use today and The Orkney News right from the start was determined to go down the no-print route and be completely online.

This does mean that some people will never access our news and we just have to accept that. We balance it off by being free to view and opening up to contributors. And that is key – engaging with readers. All of that is much more possible using the online format. We are also able to link our articles to other websites and social media pages. People can check out for themselves if what we are saying is factual, they can click on to find out more detailed information and they can access documents being produced by organisations. Or they can scroll right on past any stories they are not interested in.

Two of us went on a mobile journalism course led by Bill Sheppard of The Guardian. This opened up another area for The Orkney News to explore: short videos and interviewing. This is an aspect we are keen to expand in. It is yet another way for people to access information. Not everyone wants to read the written word, some like to listen and watch instead but also hopefully, as well as.

“A newspaper is a public trust, and we will suffer as a society without them. It is not the Internet that has killed them. It is their own greed, it is their own stupidity, and it is capitalism that has taken our daily newspapers from us. Michael Moore” (Brainy Quote)

The internet has not killed local newspapers in actuality it is our saviour. The Orkney News is a not for profit company with all our staff and contributors volunteering their time and skill. There are expenses and currently we use our advertising facility to pay for those. We will be applying for funding, however, as equipment will need to be replaced or updated. But publishing online does not suffer the expenses that traditional ‘paper’ based publishing does and the creative possibilities are exciting.

Our contributors are amazing. They tell their stories, what they love about our community, what excites them about a place or a time. They tell us about a skill or a passion that they have. And we also find out about how many of them are making a positive difference in our community.  But they also tell us about the problems that we have in our islands and where we can access help when we need it. The Orkney News is not about saying everything where we live is hunky dory because we know it is not. The Orkney News must accurately reflect the diversity in our community and that means where it is succeeding and where it is stumbling.

“News is unusual things happening— And usual things happening …….But news is mainly what someone somewhere doesn’t want you to put in the paper— Except that sometimes it isn’t ……all depends. But you’ll know it when you see it.” Terry Pratchett, The Truth (Good Reads)

The Orkney News welcomes contributions  – you can e:mail fiona@theorkneynews.scot

or use the contact page

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1 reply »

  1. That’s what it’s all about, Fiona.
    The more Murdoch tries to take over the media, the more we need the independents.
    And the same principle applies to supermarkets vs. local shops – when I saw the headline, I thought that was what the article was going to be about! That’s a whole other discussion.
    More power to your collective elbows.

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