UK hyperlocal news and the public interest, Andy Williams and Jerome Turner, IAMCR Conference, Dublin 2013

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This slide show describes data generated in a large study of UK hyperlocal news funded by the UK's Arts and Humanities Research Council. It accompanied a paper given at the Community Communication section of the International Association of Media and Communication Researchers conference in Dublin, June 2013.

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UK hyperlocal news and the public interest, Andy Williams and Jerome Turner, IAMCR Conference, Dublin 2013

  1. 1. UK Hyperlocal News and the Public Interest Andy Williams (Cardiff University, @llantwit) Jerome Turner (Birmingham City University, @jezturner) Scott Dewey (Cardiff University) Dave Harte (Birmingham City University) Glyn Mottershead (Cardiff University)
  2. 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. 3. Context: Consumption of Local News in the UK Source: Communications Market Review, OFCOM 2012
  4. 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. 5. The value of hyperlocal: What gets covered? n=1941 Top topics Freq. % Community 252 13.0 Politics (Government) 227 11.7 Sport 224 11.5 Crime/Legal (Individual) 134 6.9 Business/ Industry 133 6.9 Environment/ Nature 109 5.6 Entertainment/ Leisure 98 5.0 • Geographically- focused, community- oriented form of local news… local clubs, societies, leisure time activities covered regularly • Lots of coverage of local politics – which is declining in mainstream press • Very little coverage of local political activism
  6. 6. The value of hyperlocal: Who gets to speak? n=1873 Top Sources Freq % Local Politics 392 20.9 Business/ Commercial 268 14.3 Member of Public 233 12.4 Community Group 133 7.1 Police 114 6.1 Sportsperson 106 5.7 Culture/ Arts 102 5.4 • Some similarities with, and some differences from, the commercial local press… • Official sources in local politics, business, the police are still very important source groups… • But there’s much more of a voice for local people (members of the public, members of groups, clubs, and societies, etc).
  7. 7. The value of hyperlocal: Local news for local people? “Local-ness” of the story, n=1941 “Local-ness” of source utterances, n=1873 Local 1633, 87% Not Local 221, 1 2% Unclear 19, 1% 1607, 82.8% 224, 11.5% 45, 2.3% 42, 2.2% 18, 0.9% 1, 0.1% 4, 0.2% 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800
  8. 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 quality of local public debate
  9. 9. The Value of Hyperlocal: Fostering community activity Calls to different kinds of community activity (n=1941) 216, 11.1% 108, 5.6% 94, 4.8% 56, 2.9% 24, 1.2% 18, 0.9% 17, 0.9% 0 50 100 150 200 250 Non-Political Community Reporting to the Authorities Acts of Journalism Formal Political Cultural Production Informal Political Non-Political Charity
  10. 10. Calls to different kinds of citizen journalism (n=1941) The value of hyperlocal: Fostering collaborative citizen journalism? 47, 2.4% 34, 1.8% 18, 0.9% 9, 0.5% 1, 0.1% 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 Comment Experiences Content Story Ideas Feedback
  11. 11. The value of UK hyperlocal news: where next? • What does all this mean? • 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

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