CBC Hamilton—the Corporation’s first digital-only service—launched last night, a day ahead of schedule.
The slick homepage features a map that illustrates the geographic location of stories, events and discussion that really highlights the collaborative nature of the digital platform. Tweets are pulled in, and community events share the space with local news stories produced by CBC Hamilton reporters and contributors.
The site features responsive design, a first for a CBC website. This means that the site will automatically load to best suit the platform on which you view it—be it desktop, tablet or smartphone.
CBC Hamilton is one of five new local services being rolled out as part of CBC’s 2015 plan, and the only one to launch on schedule. When announcing the plans to deal with the $115 cut to its budget, CBC explained that it would delay the launch of similar services in Waterloo region, London, Saskatoon and Kamloops.
As Arik Ligeti reported for J-Source in March, success for CBC Hamilton’s digital-only service won’t come overnight. OpenFile closed their Hamilton operation last November, and as former editor Sheryl Nadler told Ligeti: “People keep asking me, ‘Well is it because nobody wanted an alternative news source?’ No, I don’t think that’s it at all,” she said. “I think that there’s definitely room in Hamilton for other sources of news. But it’s not going to be a cake walk I don’t think.”
When I talked to OpenFile CEO Wilf Dinnick about his Hamilton site’s closure in an interview in January, he told me that, among other things, one of the issues OpenFile faced was the great local news coverage from outlets already serving the Hamilton market, such as The Hamilton Spectator and CHCH.
Of course, just because one online-only outlet didn’t work doesn’t mean that none can. But as Bill Dunphy of The Spec noted in his story about CBC Hamilton’s launch:
Launched amid massive funding cuts which forced the broadcaster to cut a broad range of original Canadian programming across its networks, the new digital service is to serve as a template for delivering local news in an innovative and relatively cost efficient fashion, without compromising CBC standards and traditions. Plans to role copies of the Hamilton service in four other communities were put on hold by the budget cuts; failure here could doom its digital strategy, a key component of its five-year plan.