My favourite newspaper – weekly and hyperlocal


I know this is odd but my mother and I share an unspoken bond over a newspaper. Well, unspoken till now I guess. But in all the talk of hyperlocal news on the web and the local paper here in Birmingham going from daily to weekly I thought I’d explain why the Connacht Tribune is the greatest newspaper in the world.

The Tribune is a regional broadsheet covering the county of Galway in the west of Ireland. Because it has a sister paper covering the city of Galway (the City Tribune News) it’s free to focus on rural issues and covers news from all areas of Galway, including the region that my mother is from (North East Galway). I say ‘news’ but more often, once it gets down to these smaller, more sleepy areas, it focuses on cultural, social and farming stuff. So the price of sheep in the local market sits alongside the names of the winners of the local card game tournament. Its sports coverage of Gaelic games is incredibly comprehensive as well, right down to schools level.


Its coverage of deal people is second to none. Death announcement and death anniversaries take up several pages. Such things are a real feature of local newspapers in Ireland, perhaps the one income stream that’s remained steady in the face of the advertising downturn.

Overall it has a depth of coverage that would be the envy of other local newspapers. Its quite a read, as weeklies should be. And in communities where access to the web is problematic the paper version is vital for well, knowing how expensive sheep are. But for me and Mom it has a deeper resonance. For her it connects her to the area she left nearly 50 years ago and for me it connects me to her, to the place that shaped her early experiences and a place that I spent every summer holiday from the early 70s till the late 80s.

The problem at the moment is actually finding a copy in the UK. It used to be the case that finding a wide selection of regional Irish newspapers was easy, many local newsagents in specific neighbourhoods stocked them as a matter of course. Or at least they would order them in. But whatever supply chain was operating in Birmingham seems to have ground to a halt as far as the Tribune is concerned. It just seems to have dissapeared from the shelves.

But its scarcity is, if anything, making it more important to us. That we can’t get a joint fix of it until one of us goes to Ireland to get a bundle of back copies has if anything made it clear how much we value it.

Like nearly all newspapers, its website is of course rubbish, but who cares. This is hyperlocal as I understand it, something that I’ve yet to see the web replicate and kind of hope it doesn’t any day soon.

Links for October 19th through October 25th

Some links for you:

  • Twitter is not a barometer of social attitudes « Sharon O'Dea – States the obvious and then explains how digital participation splits along class lines. Useful piece. (via Andrew Mackenzie)
  • Grad Central News – New White Paper launched – "Following extensive research across the Universities and employers of the region, Grad Central has published a detailed White paper looking at how the West Midlands can grow the number of graduate jobs in the region and regain valuable graduate talent."
  • Cafelicious's Blog – This is the blog of the cafe in Rubery that Digital Birmingham are supporting to be a 'digital cafe'. Short posts in here but nice to read how something as simple as putting a free wifi sign in the window is bringing in new business.

Links for October 16th through October 18th

Some links for you:

  • NESTA Connect: Trusted Agents – "It's not who you know, it's who knows you…..the shift towards networked organisations represents a fundamentally shift in doing business." – interesting stuff.
  • Media Enterprise – Website for MA Media Enterprise students at Birmingham City University. It's had a bit of a re-skin and should be filling up soon with content from this year's student intake
  • Every City, Town, Village & Neighbourhood should have a Social Media Surgery « John Popham’s Random Musings – "The Birmingham surgeries have built a growing reputation, showing the effectiveness of the approach, in that a number of social media “experts” are prepared to give up their time to pass on their knowledge to people involved in voluntary and community organisations."
  • Can I have my iPhone back? | Tom Watson MP – Tom Watson MP has lost his phone and thinks we should all care about it. He’s taken inspiration from that cringe-worthy first chapter of Clay Shirky’s book. Surely it’s easier to just claim it back on insurance rather than start a witchhunt.
  • BBC NEWS | Technology | Moving towards Government 2.0 – "The government has long aspired to reach out to citizens in a more engaging way and in the Twittertastic world of Web 2.0 it seems such a goal should be pretty easy to achieve."

Links for October 11th through October 14th

Some links for you:

My Birmingham Half Marathon 2009

First off, what a well-organised race this was. All the various races (elite men, women, wheelchair, mass) started on time, the baggage drop-off was managed well enough and I didn’t have to queue for a portaloo. Support along the route was great, especially around Bournville where obviously it helps to have Bournville written on your running vest

I came 251st in 1:27:21. A full four minutes off my best but I was pleased enough as my training drifted a little in recent weeks. A full season of cross-country over the winter should see me posting better times in the new year hopefully.

Well done to everyone that took part and especially to the masses of colleagues from Bournville Harriers. Some really impressive times amongst club members but Mel James’ 1:23:04 and 6th woman back (first in her age category) was the stand out. I think it was actually Mel’s first ever half marathon.

Here’s the map from my Garmin if you want to see how my race panned out:

(pic: Pete Ashton)

Links for September 26th through October 7th

Some links for you:

  • Screen WM | Hello Digital – A Challenge – Jason Hall on who to take to the Hello Digital event: "How about if every single person who is digitally engaged makes a commitment to register and bring along a client, a small business owner, cultural organisation etc that isn’t? It could be someone who runs your local sandwich bar or newsagents, or an uncle who owns a firm that manufactures widgets, (of the non-digital variety)"
  • eGov monitor – Q&A with Glyn Evans, CIO Birmingham City Council – It's the answer to question 4 that's the interesting one. Refers to #BCCDIY
  • Best Believe – "Endorsing independent arts, culture and creativity in the city of Birmingham" – not noticed this one before. Nice healthy cynicism. On Birmingham's Style in the City if offers this view: "looks like a right pile of crap"