bitternepark.info is an independent, 'hyperlocal' community news 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'.
We wanted to highlight some of the local issues, campaigns and initiatives for readers both within our loosely defined area, and beyond. We strive to offer accurate reporting that often goes beyond the often limited scope of social media posts, that can frequently be partisan or lack context, partly through a commitment to various standards.
Set up in 2005, 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.
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: an OFCOM report suggested one in seven use community websites monthly; there's even a trend for academic research into the 'hyperlocal website landscape'.
bitternepark.info is independent of any political party or group, and is not formally connected with the local authority. Our income largely comes from reader support, through voluntary reader subscriptions and donations, and advertising.
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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.
We've also attempted to raise the profile of 'very local political coverage', partly through offering election candidates a unique platform to communicate with voters.
While we're always limited in what we can do, we do do our best to in some way reflect life in the area.
The site is a member of the Independent Community News Network, the voice of over 100 independent news outlets across the UK, and is committed to working within and adhering strictly to the Editors Code of Practice.
In 2019 we successfully applied to become a partner in the BBC's Local News Partnerships scheme, giving us access to pooled stories about local authorities and other public service organisations. As of 2023, we are experimenting with using 'AI' platforms, such as ChatGPT and Bard, as productivity tools. However output is not relied upon and is always checked prior to publishing.
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. And while we can't cover them all, we're also interested in news tips - contact us here.
Bitterne Park Broadcasting!
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 [update: these recordings are currently unavailable.].
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. [update: currently unavailable.]
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. Unfortunately we took the difficult decision to close portswood.info in 2021, but have incorporated some of the archive into bitternepark.info, which continues to cover some Portswood news.
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, let us help you spread the word and promote it. Prices are modest, and there's a range of advertising options, from low cost Promoted Posts, or 'advertorial' - which include mentions across our social media and in our email digest - to banner advertising. To find out more please email or phone 023 8001 8612.