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New guide to help hyperlocal journalists cover the election

27 March 2015

Polling station

A new guide aims to provide online and hyperlocal journalists with skills, tips and advice on how to report on the forthcoming General Election in their communities.

The guide, created by the Centre for Community Journalism and the Wales Governance Centre at the University, will examine how journalists can cover the General Election safely and effectively, and build engagement with their local community.

For many years the mainstream media has been an integral part of any election debate and participation, from presenting the latest party policies to broadcasting leader debates.

However the emergence of community or hyperlocal journalism means that there is now a greater plurality of media voices holding politicians to account and informing the wider public.

There is confusion in Wales among some voters over which political institution controls which public service. For example, evidence suggests that 42% of people in Wales did not know the NHS was devolved.

It is hoped that this guide will help rectify such issues.

The guide itself will provide information for hyperlocal journalists on:

  • Election engagement tools and ideas
  • Media law advice on covering elections
  • Political polling data dissemination
  • Information on devolved and non-devolved matters in relation to Wales
  • Details on candidates in Wales and how to contact them
  • Tools for selling their articles and sites to their communities

Commenting on the new guide, Emma Meese, Manager of the Centre for Community Journalism, at Cardiff University said: "We are delighted to team up with the Wales Governance Centre and other Cardiff University colleagues to produce a comprehensive guide to the General Election for community journalists here in Wales.

"Community journalists play an important role in our democracy, holding power to account and connecting local communities to their elected officials. We hope that this guide will empower community journalists to cover the General Election with confidence."

The Centre for Community Journalism was launched in 2013 and is one of the University's five flagship engagement projects, which aim to help transform communities in Cardiff, Wales and beyond.

The engagement projects work with communities on issues such as tackling poverty, boosting the economy, and improving health, education and wellbeing.

Lleu Williams, Manager of the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University, said: "With the most unpredictable general election in a century nearly upon us, it is essential that electors feel they are able to engage with the issues of the day.

"The way people are engaging with politics is changing. With many people now using different online sources to get news and information, the role of hyperlocals in reporting this election will be important. We hope this guide will be of great value to hyperlocal journalists participating in the first 'digital' general election."