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Value of Hyperlocal News, by Dr Andy Williams

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Dr Andy Williams presented the latest research findings on the 'value of hyperlocal news' at Cardiff University's Community Journalism Conference 2013

Dr Andy Williams presented the latest research findings on the 'value of hyperlocal news' at Cardiff University's Community Journalism Conference 2013


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  • 1. The value of hyperlocal news in the UK: A new analysis of content Andy Williams (Cardiff University) Jerome Turner (Birmingham City University) Scott Dewey (Cardiff University) Dave Harte (Birmingham City University) Glyn Mottershead (Cardiff University)
  • 2. Context: The Value of Local News• The value of news often viewed through prism of its relationship to democracy (McNair 2009). Key to this is idea that democracy enables good government most effectively if citizens’ decisions are based on reliable information (Habermas, 1989; Chambers and Costain, 2001)• Numerous studies have found the crisis in the UK news industry is endangering the local-ness, quality and independence of local news (Franklin 2006, Williams and Franklin 2007, O’Neill and O’Connor 2009)• But the web has enabled a new generation of community- oriented news outlets producing hyperlocal news (Bruns 2009, Metzgar et al 2011), which in the UK is under- researched but attracting sustained interest. We need to understand it better.
  • 3. Context: Consumption of Local News in the UKSource: Communications Market Review, OFCOM 2012
  • 4. What we did:• This content analysis of hyperlocal news in the UK pays particular attention to: sources (who gets to define hyperlocal news and in what ways); topics (what news is covered?); the “local-ness” of this news; the civic value of the news (in relation to coverage of politics and local institutions, but also the role of this developing cultural form in fostering different forms of community activity)• Sample: Posts published on the sites of members of the UK’s “Openly Local” hyperlocal news network during 11 days at the beginning of May 2012 (http://openlylocal.com/hyperlocal_sites)• 3819 posts were published on 313 active websites, and we coded every other story (odd numbers) in each site: in total, 1941 posts• More info on the sample: http://creativecitizens.co.uk/publications/
  • 5. The value of hyperlocal: What gets covered? Top topics Freq. % • Geographically- focused, community- Community 252 13.0 oriented form of local Politics news… local clubs, 227 11.7 (Government) societies, leisure time Sport 224 11.5 activities covered Crime/Legal regularly 134 6.9 (Individual) • Lots of coverage ofBusiness/ Industry 133 6.9 local politics – which is Environment/ declining in mainstream 109 5.6 press Nature Entertainment/ • Very little coverage of 98 5.0 local political activism Leisuren=1941
  • 6. The value of hyperlocal: Who gets to speak? Top Sources Freq % • Some similarities with, and Local Politics 392 20.9 some differences from, the Business/ commercial local press… 268 14.3 Commercial • Official sources in local Member of politics, business, the police 233 12.4 are still very important Public source groups… Community • But there’s much more of a 133 7.1 Group voice for local people Police 114 6.1 (members of the public, Sportsperson 106 5.7 members of groups, clubs, Culture/ Arts 102 5.4 and societies, etc).n=1873
  • 7. The value of hyperlocal: Local news for local people? 1607, 1800 82.8% 1600 1400 1200 Unclear Not 1000 1, 19, 1% 800 224, 42,Local 0.1% 600 11.5% 2.2%221, 1 400 45, 18, 4, 2% 200 2.3% 0.9% 0.2% 0 Local 1633, 87%“Local-ness” of source “Local-ness” of the story,utterances, n=1873 n=1941
  • 8. The value of hyperlocal: a plurality of perspectives?• The number of sources cited was quite low (only around half of posts rely on sources, & only around a fifth cite more than one source)• When secondary sources were cited, it was mostly to convey agreement, or to add context• Disagreement between sources was only found in 3% of posts• Could have implications for: transparency, plurality, and the http://alittlebitofstone.com/2012/05/10/ quality of local public debate ducklings-rescued-from-oulton-drain/
  • 9. The Value of Hyperlocal: Fostering community activity Non-Political Charity 17, 0.9% Informal Political 18, 0.9% Cultural Production 24, 1.2% Formal Political 56, 2.9% Acts of Journalism 94, 4.8%Reporting to the Authorities 108, 5.6% Non-Political Community 216, 11.1% 0 50 100 150 200 250Calls to different kinds of community activity (n=1941)
  • 10. The value of hyperlocal: Fostering collaborative citizen journalism? Feedback 1, 0.1% Story Ideas 9, 0.5% Content 18, 0.9% Experiences 34, 1.8% Comment 47, 2.4% 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50Calls to different kinds of citizen journalism (n=1941)
  • 11. The value of UK hyperlocal news: where next?• Where do we go next with the research?• We’ve looked at the value of hyperlocal content. Next comes research on the production and reception of hyperlocal news.• The next steps of the project involve researching value: – Qualitative work with hyperlocal audiences – In-depth semi-structured interviews with, and an online survey of, hyperlocal news producers