Bouncing Czechs

Much debate about new business models for journalism patronisingly assumes that all the interesting imagining, innovation and invention is going on in north-western Europe, Scandinavia and America. Not so. To see one of the most interesting experiments of all, you only have to swing the searchlight a short distance eastwards towards central Europe to light up what is going on in the Czech Republic.

I described the hyperlocal news publishing experiment known as Nase Adresa in a lecture (p11 or search “Czech” here). I’m delighted to see that its international ambassador Roman Gallo has been getting out and about with his message: here he’s in Canada.

Note a few significant things about this initiative:

1) It’s one of the very few of its kind which is backed by a big (and presumably hard-headed) company – in this case the Amsterdam-based insurance group PPF.

2) As Roman Gallo told that Canadian audience, the pilot was a success. Now they plan to reproduce the model all over the country.

3) The key ingredient of success is a clever balance between hyperlocal (news serving communities of between 10,000 and 30,000 people) and the central skills and experience of the “Futuroom” in Prague where editing and design resources are available to the local outfits in the coffee shops. That aspect of this project is underplayed in the Toronto Star account linked above.

4) If one purpose and principle of local journalism is to hold local power to account, we need to know if the Nase Adresa family of websites and papers are not only doing what is popular and useful but whether they are doing what is often controversial – reporting which uncovers difficult truth. We await more material on this.

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