The crisis in local news, and whatcommunity journalism can do tohelp…(#HerefordHyperlocal)Andy Williams (Cardiff University,@llantwit)
The Crisis in Local News• Newspapers have traditionally made money 2 ways:– By selling news to us (a bit)…– (But mainly) by selling our eyeballs to advertisers.• But since the rise of the internet, we don’t want to payupfront for news any more, and advertisers have foundmore lucrative markets (social media, search, etc)
The scariestgraph you’llsee todaySource:PaidContent.Orghttp://paidcontent.org/2013/04/11/two-charts-that-tell-you-everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-future-of-newspapers/
Print Versus Digital Advertising Revenueat Trinity Mirror Regionals DivisionSource: Trinity Mirror Annual Accounts 2003-2010010020030040050060020032004200520062007200820092010Print£000Digital£000000000
Why does this matter? StaffingLevels at Media Wales, 1999-2010Source: Media Wales Annual Accounts 2000-20100100200300400500600700800199920002001200220032004200520062007200820092010Editorial andProductionSales andDistributionAdmin
Why does this matter? Fallingcirculation at the Western MailSource: 6 monthly ABC circulation figures 2000-2011010,00020,00030,00040,00050,00060,000
Why does this matter? News and democracy• For most of the last centurythe democratic functions ofjournalism were subsidisedby commercial advertising.• This subsidy has now beencompletely withdrawn insome places, and in others itis in the process ofdisappearing.• Without someone to pay forthese we’ll get less (andpoorer quality)information, and less“I’m doing fine, but ClarkKent can’t find a newspaperthat’s hiring”
Hyperlocal news to the rescue?But… the web has enabled anew generation ofcommunity-oriented newsoutlets producing“hyperlocal” news, which inthe UK is little-understoodbut attracting sustainedinterest from the newsindustry and policy makers.Can it replace localmainstream news media?
Consumption of Local News in the UKSource: Communications Market Review, OFCOM 2012
The value of hyperlocal:What gets covered?n=1941Top topics Freq. %Community 252 13.0Politics(Government)227 11.7Sport 224 11.5Crime/Legal(Individual)134 6.9Business/ Industry 133 6.9Environment/Nature109 5.6Entertainment/Leisure98 5.0• Geographically-focused, community-oriented form of localnews… local clubs,societies, leisure timeactivities coveredregularly• Lots of coverage oflocal politics – which isdeclining in mainstreampress• Very little coverage oflocal political activism
The value of hyperlocal: Who gets to speak?n=1873Top Sources Freq %Local Politics 392 20.9Business/Commercial268 14.3Member ofPublic233 12.4CommunityGroup133 7.1Police 114 6.1Sportsperson 106 5.7Culture/ Arts 102 5.4• Some similarities with, andsome differences from, thecommercial local press…• Official sources in localpolitics, business, the policeare still very importantsource groups…• But there’s much more of avoice for local people(members of the public,members of groups, clubs,and societies, etc).
The value of hyperlocal: a plurality ofperspectives?• The number of sources cited wasquite low (only around half ofposts rely on sources, & onlyaround a fifth cite more than onesource)• When secondary sources werecited, it was mostly to conveyagreement, or to add context• Disagreement between sourceswas only found in 3% of posts• Could have implications for:transparency, plurality, and thequality of local public debate
Can hyperlocal news dig us outof the local news hole?• Content: community news can playvaluable role in providing us with newsabout local community/cultural life andimportant local political issues• Audiences: are significant, and seem tobe growing (OFCOM data)• Scale & Scope: in terms of replacing thenews gathering & reporting capacitywe’ve lost, community news is animportant, but minor, player• Sustainability: more researchneeded, but still no widespread businessmodels.• Legitimacy: Hyperlocals often lackinstitutional clout needed to produce
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