Chronicle Calling: Developing a Community News Site for East Edinburgh

September the 2nd, where does the (academic) year go – and what comes with September is brewing and pursing of new projects, a renewed focus for writing and a quick raid of the office stationary cupboard for some new highlighters and a packet of unopened packet of post-it notes – as the girl with a whiteboard instead of a mirror in her hallway, those new stationary feels are the only reason I work for a University, I believe…

Anyway, in fresh attempt to return to blogging frequently, committing to writing shorter, clearer posts and to get all these projects I’m working on up and out the door as things that are happening, this blog post is partly a piece of research data, partly a project announcement and partly a chance to get these conversations about ‘community journalism’ or ‘hyperlocal’ or ‘alternative media’ out of my evernote diary and into my public one.

Cut to the chase…

2 years ago, after #citizenrelay, I was approached to help set up the Wester Hailes Digital Sentinel. I worked with the Sentinel for 18 months before moving to Digital Commonwealth, in that time we were awarded Carnegie Trust funding through their Neighbourhood News programme (the only one of the 5 in Scotland) and the Sentinel has been much cited as a model for community journalism.

Beyond the association and the stats, I got to meet and work with people like John,  – and to this day, this video gives me goosebumps…

The quality was not the best, I didn’t have an external mic and I hadn’t quite mastered the art of the human tripod – but it isn’t about the quality, it is about what he said. And 2 years on, I still watch this video to remind myself why I do what I do.

They reached their 1000th post a few weeks ago. An amazing achievement.


When we launched the Digital Sentinel in October 2013, I met and spoke with Martin Macaulay, who worked for Edinburgh City Council and we’d be conversing on twitter about all manner of project related things during the preparation for Sentinel launch. Martin’s role at the time was in East Edinburgh – a connection to Craigmillar and the need and call for a digital paper for area was required.

Although Martin is now moved from this particular position, he has spent the last 2 years working to ring-fence funding (13.5k from Edinburgh City Council) bring together community representations, organisations, partners & trainers to come together to kick start the Chronicle Online.

(I am very much aware that this is a shell of a website + information is going on daily as and when we confirm it – but rather than waiting until it is perfect, we are being ‘agile’ and working on it live, so keep checking back)

Here is a trailer video produced when we were at the Craigmillar’s White House that Peter Murray (Media Trust & trainer on the Chronicle) with myself and Phyllis Stephen (editor of the Edinburgh Reporter, who replaced me at the Digital Sentinel as their Community Media Worker – and trainer on the Chronicle)

The final part of this post relates to my current goal I’m working on at the moment: solo academic publication. I’m writing this at a writing retreat at the moment (meta) and have approached an academic journal about using these experiences as a community media facilitator as a starting point for developing an academic journal article about community journalism.

So, the goal over the next two days is to develop a case study protocol and develop a preliminary literature review about community journalism and use the next 2 months to ensure that I can collect appropriate data during my time on the Chronicle.

In fact, next week I will be at the Centre of Community Journalism “What’s next for Community Journalism?” at Cardiff University’s School of JOMEC for their discussion event about the future of the subject and practice of community journalism. My goal is to use my practice and experience as a community media facilitator to shape the method and approach in my academic practice.

But that’s for another blog post next week, where I’m there – remember, short – sharp – to. the. point. posts from now on, Jennifer.

Keep the 2nd of October (1-4pm) free for the Chronicle Calling at the White House in Craigmillar if you want to know more and/or get involved in our month of training and development that we have planned for East Edinburgh.