It greatly saddened me last night to find out that the Guardian Local “experiment” was to be wound down.
Here in Cardiff, we were very fortunate to have our own little section of the Guardian which provided news, goings-on and most importantly, to me anyway, a way for us all in the “blogosphere” to stay connected with each other.
Hannah, who runs the site, graduated from Cardiff Journalism School at the same time as me and I was so proud to have a fellow cohort, one who is undeniably fantastic at her job, run this brilliant site which I felt not only brought a much needed boost to the local media, but helped to raise the game of its competitors, namely WalesOnline and YourCardiff.
The GuardianCardiff is a big name that can give small blogs and websites like mine, The Cardiff Arcades Project, a sense of legitimacy and very much helped it get off the ground. Although I had help from the wonderful Ed Walker at YourCardiff too, I can’t deny that being able to tell people your work will be appearing in the Guardian was a greater boost than telling people you’re appearing in the local paper (though that’s really good too). I was also lucky enough to be asked to speak on the panel at the most recent Cardiff Bloggers meet-up, where we discussed the relationship between PR professionals and bloggers. The panel was chaired, brilliantly, by Hannah. Co-organising these events with Ed, I wonder if its likely that these will return without her input?
If I’m being honest, although I have lived in Cardiff for six years, no other local website has ever tempted me to check in almost every day, sometimes twice or three times a day to find out what’s going on. You can tell Hannah really cares about the material, and she has the professional standards to go with the passion.
I know that there are currently a small Twittermob of people desperately trying to provoke The Guardian into reversing its decision, but if it says its unsustainable then I’m really not sure what we can do to help it. It’s ironic that on Monday I was talking to someone about the site and mentioned that “it must do wonders for the brand, even though it can’t be making any money.” This announcement has had quite the opposite reaction for me over the brand. Reading the Guardian Cardiff complemented by reading of the main site, but now I have lost a lot of the respect I had for it overnight.
No longer do I think of it as an experimental, forward thinking online necessity, but a company like any other that cut something just as it was getting going for financial reasons. I’m not naieve enough to think that money should be endlessly ploughed into loss-making operations, but I feel that with the Guardian Cardiff there is a special case to be made, because without there simply isn’t really any competition.
I also would like to question at this point why the Guardian Local blogs were never promoted on the main Guardian website, but hidden away to those who already knew about it?
It’s clear from the outcry that has been poured onto the blog since the announcement of the closure that this website will be very greatly missed by all of us in the community, but I can’t help but feel guilty that we couldn’t have done more to save it. Most of the stories didn’t have any comments, even when they were asked for. How many of us read the material but didn’t take the time to comment? It’s only now, that’s it being closed, that we speak up.
If I learn one lesson from all of this, it would be to show my appreciation for websites, and other free services, while they still exist.
In the meanwhile, please help show your support for the work of Hannah and the Guardian Cardiff by joining the Save the Guardian Beatblogger Facebook page and including the hashtag #savethegdncardiff in any Tweets.
Lastly, I’d like to say a big, big thankyou to Hannah for her tireless hard work in making the Guardian Cardiff one of the best local websites I’ve ever come across, I’ve no doubt that she will do well in future and, if the site can’t be saved, I’ll miss her local input dearly.