Simon Pipe writes: A profile of St Helena Online has been published on the Online Journalism Blog, which monitors new developments in the world of internet media – including “hyperlocal” news websites. It acknowledges the many people who’ve helped create this site. I’m quoted as follows:
“Mainly, though, I’m proud of the fantastic range of stories on the site. An airport is under construction and is transforming the island in myriad ways: there can’t be 47 square miles of rural Britain that are anywhere near as fascinating.”
Ninety thousand hits in nine months isn’t bad going, but if St Helena Online is to be even more interesting, it needs a little money. It’s only right that this should involve me in pain, exhaustion and darkness. And that was just on the training walks.
This weekend, I hope to be among 500 people setting out on the notorious 24-hour, 50-mile Longmynd Hike in Shropshire, in the UK. It starts at 1pm on Saturday and the sun goes down at 6.24pm, hence the darkness. With luck, I’ll still be staggering up steep hills at dawn, nearly 13 hours later.
However, about a third of the people who start up Caer Caradoc will drop out, and given my minimal training, there’s a fair chance I’ll be among them.
I’m not asking people to sponsor me. That would be too easy. Instead, I’d like people to sponsor my dodgy left knee. If it makes it to the 32-mile point, then cash donations will be welcome.
I’ll use money raised to push back the frontiers of journalism even further (not a joke, actually: experts around the world tell me they know of no other remotely-run news website like St Helena Online).
One plan is to send a recording device or two out to St Helena so that people can record interviews on my behalf. The beauty is that they needn’t be trained journalists our great writers: simply people who like a good chat. The idea is that they then send the interviews back to me to write up into stories. I call it journalism-by-proxy.
It’s not entirely original. A similar idea with mobile phones has succeeded in rural India, where city-based journalists had previously been unable to give tribal hill people a voice in the media. Read more here.
I would also use any cash to pay expenses such as internet fees, or the cost of travelling to an interview. The money won’t line my pocket.
I’m still working with Johnny Clingham, over at the St Helena Community website, to find the best way for people to donate. In the meantime, if you’d like to sign the pledge (you know what I mean) please click here.
Alternatively, you could try to talk me out of this. You’d find me a good listener.
St Helena Online is six months old today – 20 July 2012. Although a couple of features were posted on the site at the back end of 2011, it was not until January that it became properly active.
One day, a yachtie’s drawing of Ann’s Place in Jamestown popped up on the internet, and it became the subject of the first post of just over 350 that have been published this year. I’m still a little way off my millionth hit.
Initially the site was intended as an exercise in blogging as part of a master’s degree course at Coventry University, but it developed into a full-blown news website, now partnered with – but not part of – the St Helena Independent.
Today, I enrol on Birmingham City University’s online journalism course in order to use the site as my final MA project, and keep it going for a few more weeks – which, regrettably, I wasn’t able to do at Coventry.
Part of the project will be to attempt to find a way to make the site “sustainable”. It will never make money. The likelihood is that it will not be viable to continue it in its present form after I submit my work for final assessment in mid-September. At the Indy, editor Mike knows there will not be so many stories for the paper each week from then.
I hope to find a justification for keeping the site going in some form, probably with occasional articles. It could even become a project for another journalism student.
In the meantime, it’ll go quiet for the next few days. I’m off camping. Please enjoy reading the site… while you can.
I’d like to thank the many people who have given practical help or shared their wisdom, of which there has been much. It is an exciting time to be writing about St Helena – even from 5,000 miles away. Best wishes…