Brighton to become one of first Open-Data Cities?

10 02 2011

Journalist and internet guru Greg Hadfield shared Fleet Street experiences and innovative ideas for an “open-data” Brighton and Hove with an audience which included Brighton Journalist Works students, writes Al Horner.

From regional reporting at the Wakefield Express to Fleet Street stints at the Sunday Times, Daily Mail, Sunday Express and DailyTelegraph, Greg forged a 30-year career in journalism out of sheer hard work and unflinching enthusiasm for reporting.

The talk, at The Eagle in Brighton, was at the February meeting of BFONG (Brighton Future of News Group) and was full of enlightening insight, interesting asides about the world of reporting and honest admissions into the pressures which go with the job – “every deadline is like pulling teeth,” Hadfield laughed.

His résumé is, to be frank, littered with the kind of illustrious positions on national papers aspiring journalists like me can only dream of. However, Greg elected to spend a sizable chunk of his speech happily recalling his time at the Wakefield Express and discussing the merits of local journalism. To the Journalist Works students who are each dipping our toes into community reporting on The Argus as part of the course, it was great to hear.

Greg is currently campaigning to make Brighton and Hove an “open data” city. If he is successful, the region could soon be one the first places in which local authorities’ statistics and data is all readily available online. The face of journalism could very well change in a way hinted at by the data-born expenses scandal and Wikileaks stories that dominated last year’s headlines.

Clutching a copy of George Orwell’s seminal “Why I Write,” Greg said the author is his inspiration. But while Orwell explored the hop-fields of Kent and streets of Paris for stories, Hadfield is exploring a more digital landscape for the future of journalism.

“Open data is changing our lives for good,” he said, “People living and loving in Brighton and Hove can create a new form of journalism using data and produce something George Orwell would have been delighted with.”

Follow Greg Hadfield on Twitter: @GregHadfield

BFONG blog:

Greg explains Open Data:  Open Data Cities: A lifeline for local newspapers


Journalism student scoops front page at start of her course

1 02 2011

At Brighton Journalist Works all our students work on The Argus from day one of the course. Everyone has a “patch” to cover for their own community page on the Argus website: It’s hyperlocal news in action. But sometimes a hyperlocal story can lead to a printed front page, like today.

Scarlett Wrench writes:  “It was a quiet Friday night and instead of painting the town red I was sitting at home with a glass of wine and my laptop browsing Moulsecoomb community websites.

“I decided to read through a few of the local school newsletters, hoping for some nice little story about an 8-year-old virtuoso musician or a fun charity event when I came across a notice about incidents of “physical aggression” and “abusive language” by parents at Moulsecoomb Primary.

“It was about midnight by now so I decided to just quickly put something up on the Argus community page and I sent a link to Lee Gibbs, the news editor who responded quickly saying that they would try and do something with the story.

“I got a call from reporter Emily-Ann Elliott on Monday, the school were, predictably, unwilling to comment but Emily extended my original article, re-worded a few bits, added extra comments and it made the front page today.