In the Cove ensures information flows where water doesn’t

A burst water main in Lane Cove in the inner-north of Sydney has caused havoc for residents in surrounding suburbs and highlighted the importance of local news reporting. Water poured onto Epping Road, causing significant traffic hazards and reducing the flow of water to houses and businesses in the area from around 6:30am on Saturday 10th September. Locals immediately began reporting their experiences to In the Cove, a hyperlocal news site with a strong following in the area.
 
“I was hearing from residents reporting water on the road,” said publisher, Jacky Barker, “so I immediately started looking for information. It took a couple of hours for the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command to release an update on the traffic issues and Sydney Water didn’t respond publicly until 4:40pm that afternoon. In the meantime, it was all local people sharing information to keep each other safe.”
 
Ms Barker founded In The Cove in 2012 in response to a lack of local information available through legacy media channels and quickly found an audience of local residents seeking news that is relevant to their everyday lives. In the Cove started as a Facebook page and now is a multi-platform media company with a website, Facebook page, closed Facebook group, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, YouTube and podcast channels. Its weekly news blast is emailed to nearly 6,000 people at 7.30 pm on Wednesdays – the time is specific because if its late, residents begin to call looking for it.
 
“Our Facebook following is about 22,000 people now,” Ms Barker says, “so I’ve been working hard over the past couple of days to share as much information as I can about which roads are blocked, where people can access showers, how repairs are progressing. We’re lucky to have such strong support from the local business community here that people have been really helpful with opening their doors to residents where they can. Water is such an essential resource that I’m really surprised it has taken more than two days for this incident to reach mainstream media. I guess it helps to have an ear to the ground and that trust from the local community that you’re going to give them accurate information.”
 
In the Cove is a member of the Local & Independent News Association (LINA), a recently formed industry association supporting hyperlocal and independent news publishers. “Coverage of the water outage in Lane Cove is a prime example of local media at work,” says Claire Stuchbery, LINA’s Executive Director. “We have seen this play out through the pandemic, through floods, through a broad range of emergencies. Whenever there is a crisis, people need to know what’s happening in their neighbourhood and where they can get help in their immediate vicinity. This is where local news publishers are absolutely essential and we’re seeing that in the community response to In the Cove’s reporting on the water issues over the past couple of days, they’re right behind Jacky because In the Cove readers relate to her, she knows the area.”
 
In the Cove has been interviewed by Channels 7 and 9 and by ABC TV and Radio and continues to report on water shortages through its website and social media feeds.

For more information, interviews and images contact LINA.