Ian Hargreaves says citizen journalism has big role in Wales

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Image caption Hyperlocal journalism can connect Wales if the technology is in place, said Prof Hargreaves

Citizen journalists have a big role to play in the future of the Welsh media, says the leading journalism academic Professor Ian Hargreaves.

Speaking to the BBC Sunday Politics Wales, the professor of digital economy at Cardiff University said that there were good examples of community journalism in Wales.

"I think that we're in an experimental phase and we will discover what the value of this new community journalism is," said Prof Hargreaves.

"But what we can be sure about is that there is a lot of it and the technology makes it very easy for people to get started."

Prof Hargreaves, who has given this year's BBC Radio Wales Patrick Hannan Lecture, said that Wales had got more chance in the new media configuration than it had in the old one which was dominated by traditional print media.

"The attractive idea behind the new online community journalism is that it can be anywhere," said Prof Hargreaves.

"So long as you've got the communications infrastructure, good mobile networks decent broadband, people can do things that previously they haven't been able to do so."

He said that the Welsh and UK governments had set some ambitious targets on getting competitive quality infrastructure on broadband and other communication technologies by 2015/2016 and this was vital.

"It's even more important than you hear government ministers saying it is, because this is technology that can really work in Wales.

"It will work in a way that we're never going to get a railway that properly connects north and south; we're never going to get fast roads that can do that but we can make this technology work in spite of mountains and in spite of a sparsely spread population".

Cardiff University has just set up a Centre for Community Journalism "to help build capacity among these new hybrid or citizen journalists".

Prof Hargreaves is a former head of BBC News and Current Affairs and former editor of The Independent and The New Statesman.

You can listen to the BBC Radio Wales Patrick Hannan Lecture on the BBC iplayer.

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