After a varied career spanning news reporting, regional newsdesks, magazine editing, public sector PR and strategic communications, my ambition is to pull together these disparate skills and experiences to create a Master’s level multimedia, local, investigative journalism project.

 Form: Launch a multimedia ‘hyperlocal’ style website, showcasing a series of articles and regular long-form investigative stories about my home community of Kidderminster and the surrounding Wyre Forest district, incorporating text, images, video, audio

Audience: Geographical community of Kidderminster, Wyre Forest, Worcestershire and local influencers, reached primarily by linking from website through Facebook and twitter campaigns, including cross collaboration with local high-engagement Facebook groups and Twitter hashtags, most prominently Kidderminster Matters, Horsefair & Proud.

Secondary audience: Potentially other media publishers (on a story by story basis); employers, clients, funders, grant-giving agencies of investigative journalism

Associated blog:  Produce a series of industry-focussed blog posts, published on my blog to help inform my ideas and practices while also adding to the burgeoning body of research in the fields of hyperlocal, community journalism, and investigative journalism.

Over the past 12 months I have been following the myriad ways that journalists, publishers and communities are responding to the collapse of traditional local print newspapers, both in the UK and elsewhere.

In 2014 it was estimated that a quarter (25%) of all local government areas have no daily local newspaper at all or have a single newspaper with a total monopoly (35%). (Moore, 2014)[1]

The resulting decline in the level of independent scrutiny of those who hold power and influence is described as the ‘democratic deficit’ by, among others, the Carnegie Trust, in its report “The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Local” (Carnegie Trust, 2014)[2]

This report also highlights the burgeoning role of the hyperlocal sector[3] – what Prof Richard Sambrook, of Cardiff University, calls “a 5th estate of grass roots media.”[4]

Simultaneously, I have been inspired by independent, collaborative organisations including the Bureau for Investigative Journalism[5] which encourage freelance and employed local journalists to share information and skills to get to the heart of serious stories on a regional and national scale.

My ambition is to explore these interests through an investigative local news website for Kidderminster, Worcestershire,[6] a place where I believe there is a ‘democratic deficit’; and through a series of blogposts.

My project is an example of what Smith & Dean[7] refer to as “practice-led research, research-led practice”.

There are significant challenges and risks in setting out such an ambitious, time-rich project. Detailed planning is crucial.

It fits into the template for the Production Project Cycle, as set out by Gauntlett[8] (2015):

 Patanakul et al (2010)[9] propose that using appropriate management tools and techniques in the right way will have a direct impact on the delivery of a successful project.

As a visual learner, I recognise it will also be useful to use graphs and charts – what the team at (2016) describe as having a “pictorial method of managing a project.”[10]

Most multimedia projects share a range of traits, which include: the project has a start, middle and end; they are a team event, involving a range of experts; are unique; and are driven by quality, cost and time (Anderson et al, 1995; Housley et al, 2013).[11] [12]

My project meets some but not all of these criteria. While there is an ‘artificial’ end date (the date of submission of my MA project in September 2018) my ambition is that the project continues after this date as an evolving, living entity.

I do have ambitions to collaborate with individuals and teams within my community and within my student network both to create and distribute content.

Initially though my project will follow the full vertical integration model; I will have sole control of production methods, systems and processes in all media, including distribution.[13]

While there are unique aspects to my project, I am following in the footsteps of other, inspirational media projects which focus on investigations – among them The Ferret, Scotland, and The Bristol Cable.

Using project management tools has also aided me to identify practical risks, which are set out in the attached Swot analysis and chart (Appendix B), along with an outline Gantt chart (Appendix A).

Within the project will also be a series of mini projects, each requiring their own timeline and Gantt chart. For example, my first investigation is into homelessness and the state of social housing in Wyre Forest. Drawing on findings set out by Hunter et al (2011)[14] it will require initial background research, development of a hypothesis, feasibility analysis, creation of content and review, quality control and a consideration of the ethical and legal considerations. It’s vital, therefore, that the project is micromanaged to ensure the outcomes I set are achievable.

My additional biggest challenge will be balancing my desire to be creative and break new ground as a journalist, ideally by finding, telling and distributing exclusive stories, with the need to practically manage a multi-strand project, which brings with it a host of practical, ethical, legal and moral issues.

NEXT BLOG: Understanding the ethical, legal and moral challenges of my project


[1] Moore, Martin, The Media Standards Trust, Addressing the Democratic Deficit in Local News through Positive Plurality, 2014. [pdf] Available at Accessed November 2017.

[2] Carnegie Trust, The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Local, 2014. [pdf] Available at Accessed November 2017

[3] Abbott, Matt, ‘What do we mean when we talk about hyperlocal?’ Blogpost for Centre for Community Journalism blog, Cardiff University, May 2017. Extract: “We define a community and hyperlocal news publication as a news service that typically pertains to a specific geographic area such as a town, neighbourhood, village, county or even postcode.” Available at

[4] Sambrook, Richard. “Local News and the Democratic Deficit”, blogpost for Cardiff University, December 2014. Available at

[5] Bureau for Investigative Journalism (2016). About Us section: available at Accessed November 2017

[6] Kidderminster on Wikipedia. Available at Accessed November 2017

[7] Smith, H. and Dean, R.T. (Eds.) (2009)Practice-led Research, Research-led Practice in the Creative Arts.

[8] Gauntlett, D. (2015) Making Media Studies: The Creativity Turn in Media and Communication Studies. New York: Peter Lang, chapter 6.

[9] Patanakul, Peerasit. (2010). An Empirical Study on the use of Project Management Tools and Techniques across Project Life-Cycle and their Impact on Project Success. Journal of General Management. 35. 41-65.

[10] From Project, 2017. Available at Accessed December 2017.

[11] Andersen, E. S., Grude, K. V. and Haug, T. (1995). Goal-Directed Project Management.

[12] Houseley, W., Nicholls, T. and Soutwell, R. (2013) Managing in the Media. Abingdon: Routledge. Chapter 13: Production, P.

[13] Houseley, W., Nicholls, T. and Soutwell, R. (2013) Managing in the Media. Abingdon: Routledge. Chapter 13: Production, P.

[14] Hunter, M., with Hanson, Sabbagh, Sengers, Sullivan, Syith, Thordsen (2011). Story-based Inquiry, a manual for investigative journalists [pdf[. UNESCO Publishing. Available at

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