Today marks the end of the Guardian Edinburgh blog, an experiment in hyper-local journalism that achieved what seemed to be nigh-on impossible: a professional and useful daily local news site with a dedicated and varied following. So why close it down, and what does this say about the future of local news? 38minutes asked the face of Guardian Edinburgh, its ‘beatblogger’ Michael Macleod.
Where did the idea for local blogs come from and what did Guardian hope they would achieve?
The mission statement is online here. There were quite a few aims, but in summary it was an experiment to collaborate with communities in providing journalism about their areas. I wasn’t really part of the concept/design/launch stage as I joined in September, about 5 months after it started in Edinburgh. But one of the project’s aims that jumped out for me was to increase scrutiny of, and participation in, local democracy – something I felt, and still feel, needs to be given more prominence in society. Otherwise who knows what they’ll get away with?
Here’s a taster:
Stories have been a part of human culture since prehistoric man first drew pictorial representations on cave walls – signs of “the beginnings of the modern human soul”, as Werner Herzog eloquently expressed it in his acclaimed film Cave of Forgotten Dreams. The earliest stories served less as entertainment and more as instructive tales of faith and morality. Through ancient religious texts, we adopted beliefs, rituals, codes of behaviour, laws and ethics. The great philosopher Plato famously set out his theories about the nature of human existence through a series of allegorical tales, and in medieval times fables provided miniature lessons in morality. In those early days of literary development, our storytelling was bound up in the pictorial and the performative, passed down orally through generations.