Organisation: Stuff / Neighbourly (New Zealand)
Publication Date: 03/02/2018
DescriptionNeighbourly is a free and private neighbourhood website that allows members to interact with their communities across New Zealand. Neighbourly is owned by Stuff Ltd which runs the most popular and largest news site in NZ. Owning the Neighbourly platform allows Stuff to host and share local news and content within communities around the country. However, even with Neighbourly, Stuff hasn’t been able to fully address the threat to local journalism. Despite the value of the website to local communities, the closure of local mastheads and the resulting loss of local staff has left a hole in the Neighbourly. The problem we wanted to solve, is how we can continue to serve the needs of local audiences using existing resources and a reduced amount of Stuff journalists embedded in each community throughout New Zealand. Our goal was to create a product that can be used by Stuff reporters and editors to ensure that they have access to local content throughout the country and, due to their stretched resource, that content can be accessed quickly and easily. Our solution is called Neighbourly Catch. We have created a dashboard on Neighbourly for Stuff reporters and editors that will allow them to easily discover content that matters to local communities. The system will allow the editorial staff to search through all 550,000 Neighbourly members’ posts and profiles for keywords or names that relate to a story or topic they are after. We hope this solution will allow reporters to add more local contexts to national stories. This will ensure that regions, who don’t have reporters on the ground, can still have insights from their neighbourhood covered in stories and aren’t missed out. Further to this, the dashboard will also offer reporters and editors a look at the top trending posts in each region. The purpose of this function will be to ensure that popular stories and conversations in local communities aren’t being missed - particularly if the area lacks reporters to keep an eye on the local happenings. The trending posts function will list the top ten posts in order of the most engaged audience. This is found by a simple query which adds the likes, thanks and replies of the post and divides by the audience size. This means that smaller regions, such as rural communities, will have the same chance of being “trending” topics than a bigger suburb with more residents/members. Upon creating this prototype over the past two days, we quickly put a call out to Stuff reporters and editors to get their perspectives. The response was overwhelmingly positive. The dashboard will be integrated into the Neighbourly website and mobile app. We hope that once we initiate this first stage, we will be able to look at the opportunity to also hook into social media API’s and include conversations and comments on Stuff.co.nz.
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