bitternepark.info is an independent, 'hyperlocal' community site for Bitterne Park, Southampton, and nearby areas.
It grew from an enthusiasm for the area, a desire to learn more about it and to promote a 'sense of place', and an interest in how certain software, and 'community news', could be brought together to create something online similar to what used to be known as a 'community newspaper'.
Set up in 2005, we didn't realise it at the time but it was probably one of the first hyperlocal sites in the UK. We now attract thousands of readers every month from Bitterne Park and nearby areas - as well as from further afield; unlike literature that's pushed through letterboxes, our readers choose to visit our sites, generally read several pages during each visit, and generally return over the course of a month.
We now serve up tens of thousands of pages every month, and it seems to be growing all the time.
And growing readership for 'hyperlocal' sites (a term loathed by some and somewhat hard to define) is reflected nationally: a recent OFCOM report suggested one in seven use community websites monthly; there's even a trend for academic research into the 'hyperlocal website landscape' (our rates for participating in research or for similar activities are jolly reasonable!).
bitternepark.info is independent of any political party or group, is not formally connected with the local authority, and our only income comes from advertising and related activities. For example when you buy products via some of the ads on the site we get a small commission, and we also receive valued support from a few kind individuals who choose to 'subscribe' or support us in other ways.
We've covered a diverse range of issues since we started: from trying to keep tabs on the airport's expansion, to covering the various attempts to close or cut back our local library; and from local history pieces - including a popular series of audio interviews about the area in times gone by - to crime reports, fundraisers, gigs, appeals, comings and goings at The Triangle and coverage of interesting city-wide events and issues... and so it goes on.
While we're always limited in what we can do, we do do our best to in some way reflect life in the area.
If you're interested in writing for the site or assisting in another way - for example photography, compiling listings etc – then do get in touch to discuss things further in the first instance. Any contributions need to be voluntary, but it's a great way to get work published perhaps for a portfolio if you're a journalim student or similar.
Bitterne Park Broadcasting!
As well as news, what's on information and local history, we from time to time feature audio taken from the local area (it can be a great way to give different voices an audience and publish information fast), and in February 2012 we even branched out into 'broadcasting', with the transmission of a live radio programme - or web/pod-cast - which featured local music and poetry. It was streamed live over the internet, and listeners interacted via social media. You can hear the programme again here, as well as our follow-up programme in May, featuring an ambitious line up of three local bands and poetry, here.
And in 2013 we broadcast a live 1.5 hour programme featuring top local talent (and John Peel faves) Accrington Stanley, Grant Sharkey, Angela Chicken, Carrie Aaron and of course The Spiraltones. Listen again from this link.
bitternepark.info was shortlisted for Best Local Area Website in Hampshire County Council's 'Hantsweb Awards' in 2008/09.
And in 09/10 we were pleased to be runner up for the Hantsweb 'Best Pride of Place' website.
In February 2008, Alan Whitehead, MP for Southampton Test, launched our sister site - portswood.info - covering Portswood, Highfield and nearby areas.
What you can do on the site
As well as being a 'consumer' of our offering, you can contribute ideas for stories, comment on articles (use the comment form under each), advertise, place a small ad & list your organisation or business on the Noticeboard (pictured is an example Featured Listing - ideal for promoting your business) or suggest an event for the calendar. Please register to use most site features - it's free, and quite painless!
You can also subscribe to our RSS news feed, 'like' us on Facebook to have stories and more appear on your 'wall', and follow us on Twitter; you'll find links to all of these on the right hand side, midway down the front page.
How you can support us
You can support us by telling your friends and neighbours about the site - and please mention that you read it to local traders.
If you run a business, please consider supporting us and promoting your business by advertising on the site. Prices are modest, and there's no hard sell! You can take out a Featured Listing on our Noticeboard from just £25 a year! Call on 023 8001 8612 to find out more about this or banner advertising.
You can also take out a 'voluntary subscription' from just £1 a month using the link below. These add up and help us pay for things like domains, hosting, upgrades – even a little time!
What do you think of it so far?
We hope you find the site useful, make it a regular haunt, and tell your friends about it. Perhaps you will even feel moved to participate in its development in some way?
At any rate we'd be very pleased to hear what you think of it so far!
Thanks for visiting, and see you again soon!