Many of them have managed to dodge the layoffs and downsizing that larger papers have had to face. Reasons for this tempered optimism may include an element of survivor bias among our respondents, or that—following recent cuts in smaller newsrooms—the opportunities for further reducing personnel may be difficult.
We know that journalists increasingly use a variety of digital tools to support their profession. Digital tools can create new ways of working for example, the use of Slack as an email replacement , while the emergence of platforms such as Live Video can enable reporters to tell stories and communicate with their audiences in new and engaging ways. Just because local newspapers have smaller newsrooms than their metro and national peers does not mean they are devoid of innovation and experimentation.
Many local titles are exploring digital tools, and doing so with fewer personnel than their larger counterparts. However, the deployment of new digital technologies can be time-consuming, and in resource-challenged environments journalists may not have the hours to add this to their already-busy journalistic plate. We asked respondents to tell us about some of the emerging communication forms they are using.
This included use of popular digital tools and platforms such as video reporting used by 84 percent of respondents , live video 67 percent , and podcasting 25 percent. In our sample, small-market, local newspapers were less likely to use chat apps 5 percent , augmented reality 0 percent , 27,28 and virtual reality 5 percent 29,30,31 —although we know from our wider research that these tools are being used by different newspapers.
The Herald and News in Klamath Falls, Oregon, for example, has produced augmented reality often referred to as AR, for short content on a regular basis since Not surprisingly, Facebook was the most popular social network for personal use. When looking at slightly newer social networks, the personal accounts of journalists on Instagram and Snapchat are overwhelmingly used for non-work purposes. Only five respondents told us their personal Snapchat accounts were primarily used for work. In contrast, 73 respondents said their personal Snapchat accounts were typically used for activity unrelated to their day jobs.
A sizable number of respondents told us that they were eager to learn more about video reporting, live video, and podcasts. Interest in emerging platforms such as chat apps, augmented reality, and virtual reality, however, garnered much lower levels of interest. These findings are, perhaps, not surprising given the infancy of some of these new technologies. Moreover, fundamental questions about whether these platforms—especially augmented and virtual reality—can be adequately monetized are still being debated.
Given this, and the fact that small-market newsrooms cannot do everything, 35 local titles need to use their resources wisely. Mainstream media platforms are also likely to be better understood—and used—by the older demographic that tends to consume local news. However, cutting-edge digital platforms may help to engage a younger audience. I think a lot of small newspapers, along with newspapers of any size, struggle to reach younger audiences. Being 21 years old, I can see that newspapers struggle to reach my generation and those younger.
I think we have to come up with unique and innovative ideas to keep them engaged. Although the empirical research on this issue currently remains unconvincing, 37 levels of interest within local newsrooms in these nascent digital tools and technologies may change over time. We believe that this is a space worth watching.
Staff at small-market newspapers often needs to be resourceful in learning about industry developments and new digital tools. Preference for these learning methods ranked far ahead of attending conferences 38 percent or training courses 27 percent. Metrics tools are becoming established tools in small newsrooms.
Our final technology-focused question explored the use of metrics in local newsrooms. We were curious to see if use of these technologies—and metrics more generally—had permeated local newsrooms. More than two-thirds 70 percent of respondents told us their organization—or they themselves—use performance metrics to measure audience engagement. Based on our sample, at an individual level, these metrics are the ones journalists are most likely to pay attention to. Performance metrics have become integral to editorial decisions across the industry in recent years. The fact is that metrics are here to stay.
Their use across the spectrum of newspapers— from smaller titles, to major national and international outlets—means that discussions about the impact of metrics must be broadened to include stakeholders from across all tiers of the newspaper industry. Of these, the experience of smaller newsrooms is the area that is perhaps the least well understood, and thus worthy of further study.
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Engagement was arguably the media buzzword of 44,45 as publishers moved away from scale and chasing large traffic numbers, toward an increasing focus on deepening their relationships with new and existing audiences. Reviewing the literature, from both academia and the industry, we see engagement defined as a philosophy, a practice, and a process.
Because definitions of engagement can vary, we asked our survey respondents what engagement meant to them, and how they measured it. Although major metros and national outlets have just begun to embrace the importance of engagement in its myriad forms, small-market newspapers have long been closely connected both offline and in their daily output to their local community. Failure to do so, in many cases, would have been commercial suicide.
Examples of responses we received from journalists in this camp included:. Others took a different view, highlighting how traditional forms of engagement such as letters to the editor, phone calls, and print readership continue to be popular. We are still read, discussed, called, emailed, and written to. Further contributions to this question offered a different perspective. At its most basic level, engagement was sometimes described as a means to measure impact. Specifically, respondents attributed it as a way to provide hard numbers—such as readership figures, time on site, and other quantifiable data—of interest to both publishers and advertisers alike.
An additional group defined engagement as a term to describe the broader contract between a newspaper and its community. This contract has many constituent parts, with survey participants emphasizing different elements depending on their own philosophical standpoint and newsroom practices. Some of the characteristics of engagement highlighted by this cohort include: building relationships, creating feedback loops, being part of the community, fostering conversations, and listening and engaging with audiences in a variety of places and spaces.
This matters, several respondents observed, due to the importance of ensuring that audiences feel invested in the success of their community and its newspaper. Effective engagement also means that newspapers reflect the needs and aspirations of their readers. The benefits of successful engagement can therefore be both economic increased subscribers and readers , as well as more civically minded, helping to promote dialogue and create opportunities for community cohesion.
But our conversations, both within this survey and the wider, in-depth interviews we have undertaken, also show that for many journalists engaging audiences is at the heart of their beliefs around what local journalism is and should be about. Engagement is central to what many local titles already do, and what they have always done.
Finally, at the end of our survey, we asked respondents to share their views on how the industry might move forward. We used a series of open questions to ask about the opportunities and challenges facing the sector, while also exploring levels of optimism about the long-term health of small-market newspapers. Pushing back against the popular narrative that the death of the newspaper industry is imminent, 52 our respondents were predominantly optimistic about the future for small-market newspapers. Considering the level of job losses and shuttered titles we have seen in the past decade, the optimism of our survey participants might come as a surprise.
This finding, however, reinforced similar ones from our qualitative interviews, wherein many interviewees told us that they were cautiously optimistic about the future of their industry. Industry experts and practitioners are sanguine about the prospects for small-market newspapers for a number of reasons, including: their ability to tell local stories which often go untold by other media, existing relationships with their community and subscriber base, heritage and longstanding reputation, and the ability to support local advertisers that are often too small or niche to be effectively served elsewhere.
Many of our survey respondents expressed similar views, suggesting that some small-market newspapers believe they are well placed to weather the digital storm. This sense of optimism echoes earlier studies and reports, which found that many small-market newspapers had arguably weathered the economic and authoritative crisis of journalism better than their metro counterparts. Of course, for all of the positivity and optimism we encountered, there are also very real challenges facing the sector.
Examples of issues our respondents highlighted included: resources and revenues, attraction and retention of young audiences, recruiting young journalists, and a wider recognition and awareness of what small-market newspapers have to offer. The same respondent also noted that an increasing challenge, particularly in an age of social media and on-demand entertainment, is capturing the attention of audiences.
Life at small-market newspapers: A survey of over 400 journalists
The ownership structure of local newspapers can also be an issue for some outlets. Although many publications are independent, there are others that are part of larger chains. One respondent explained this dynamic from the perspective of their own paper:. Our newspaper has fewer than 5, readers.
Our personal challenge is that the owners treat all papers the same, daily and weekly, when the challenges are very different. Personally, I think we are shooting ourselves in the foot at our paper by publishing our stories for free on our website, because we have no local competition. Finally, we also saw a further acknowledgement of the challenges around trust and engagement, which permeate the industry as a whole.
Many of these challenges are not unique to small-market, local newspapers. There are structural and economic challenges that radiate throughout the industry, but they manifest themselves differently—and to different extents—at each publication. For many of our respondents, the secret sauce for small-market newspapers lies in the fact that they can provide a level of local reporting that other media simply cannot.
The opportunity is there to succeed. In this regard, the causes for optimism many participants identified can also be seen as opportunities. Our respondents reported, for example, that their newspapers are often the only original news voice in a community—an observation that aligns with other industry observations.
Be hyperlocal. Look to our past when small town papers ran everything happening locally, even social columns which were essentially an early print version of social media. Get off our high horse and be willing to cover the smallest event from time to time. This practical application was accompanied by a range of answers from respondents, which emphasized the benefits of small-market newspapers focusing on localness, trust, quality content, and developing real relationships with consumers and advertisers.
As several respondents observed, the size of small-market newspapers is an asset, not a weakness. Local journalists are physically and attitudinally close to the communities they cover, meaning that they are perhaps less likely than their counterparts at larger outlets to be detached from the hopes, aspirations, and experiences of their readers.
What makes small-market papers special is right there in the name—their size. We run into readers in the coffee shops on a daily basis. Our kids go to school with them. And yes, this is true for journalists at larger papers, but somehow they feel more separate from the community as a whole.
They are a more diluted population in a big city. But in our coverage area, our reporters have great byline recognition, and personal history and connection with people here. I think that counts for a lot. Understanding the news requires to look at the theoretical approaches related to mass media, the practices of journalism and media-society relations.
Curran et al. The mainstream media studies rather focuses on the effects of mass media on the audiences by using empirical methods. Marxist and critical researchers argue that the mass media plays a crucial role in reinforcing the dominant social norms and values that legitimize the existing social system.
In the studies of mass communication, the liberal tradition has been characterized by an increasing attention to empirical investigation. It means that media serves as a guardian of the public interest and a watchdog for the exercise of power and contributes to the system of checks and balances by being the main elements of a modern democracy. Waisbord suggests that watchdog journalism requires freedom of press. Autonomy from the state is the cornerstone of the Western liberal tradition of media, which is repeatedly emphasized to justify the privatization of media and reform.
The degrees of separation between press and government indicate the level of freedom of press. The separation between the state and the press is certainly necessary for watchdog journalism. The critical approaches focusing partly on the media ownership and partly on the ideology, text and audience have objected to the liberal-pluralist idea. They argue that mass media reproduces the social inequalities, legitimizes the discourses of political and economic elites and serves the maintenance of existing power relations.
Accordingly, the content of mainstream media is consistent with the dominant ideology. The main problem is that who owns and controls the media and sensor critical approaches. The role of media in a democratic society is discussed by encouraging the public participation and pluralism. As Curran emphasized, the free-market approach excludes social interests from the media which leads to the constriction of ideological and cultural diversity. A democratic media environment is fundamental to the representation of different interests in a society. It should also provide participation of citizens in the public sphere.
Critical media studies have analysed the mass media in terms of its structural aspects. Marxist perspective examines the media industries and their practices of production and pays attention to the economic, corporate, governmental structures to figure out how the mass media operates. Moreover, the messages, ideologies and the representations of different social identities in media are the main issues of these critical approaches with emphasis on cultural perspectives.
Cultural perspectives investigate how the media conveys ideologies about the concepts such as class, race, ethnicity, gender and shape cultural attitudes toward different social groups Ott and Mack : 16— In order to understand the role of journalism in a society, the larger picture should be analysed, which is the different dimensions like the media industry, the ownership structure, the media and government relationship and the dominant ideology should be considered.
Contemporary journalism faces many challenges ranging from how government regulates the media to how news media depends on political and economic forces. The central question is that who owns the media. One of the trends in media ownership is its concentration in few hands. Media companies have become a part of much larger corporations. The concentration of media ownership has created some issues in respect of the news as being one of the media contents.
Conglomeration has also affected print journalism and created entertained consumers rather than informed citizens. In this context, newspapers have become quite colourful, focusing on the lives of celebrities, and they print sensational stories about dramatic and bizarre happenings. One of the consequences of the concentration of media ownership also led to the homogenization of media content. Another consequence of concentration of media ownership is attaining the power to determine a political agenda. Media empires use the media outlets to promote a specific political discourse.
Therefore, the interests of corporate entities are presented to the public as universal values Croteau and Hoynes, : 43— The political economy perspective is a key to understand the nature of news media. According to Wasko et al. In addition to these developments, the tension between private and public interests has significantly risen and the abuse of power by private organizations has grown unashamedly and become ordinary.
Critical approach to political economy is more important for understanding these developments as well as understanding contemporary media and communications. Political economy represents a critical orientation to media studies, which challenge unjust and inequitable systems of power. Garnham : — highlights that the production and dissemination of mass culture are rooted in the material dimension and offers a new perspective for grasping the relationship between the economic and ideological dimensions of media against reductionist explanations that favour either a simple economic determinism or an ideological autonomy.
Mass media is the ideological apparatus of dominant ruling-class either through direct ownership or as in the case of broadcasting the control of the State by ruling class. One of the key features of the mass media within monopoly capitalism has been an exercise of political and ideological domination by means of economic power. Devereux : 90— has argued that the growing concentration of media ownership has in fact resulted in a narrower range of voices in the media setting and highlighted the important concept of public sphere.
Diminishing role of the media in public sphere is caused by a greater concentration and conglomeration of the media ownership. Journalism has been transformed into an entertainment and infotainment platform. Audiences have been redefined as consumers rather than citizens. This means that there is no pluralism within media content and the media has built close links and involved with the larger projects of global capitalism. It is difficult to sustain the media as an objective public sphere because of the structure of media ownership.
While the primary task of the public sphere is to criticize government policies, the public sphere is already being controlled by the dominant discourse. From this perspective, the media is regarded as producers of the ideology representing the interests of an elite minority against the subordinate majority like other cultural institutions in a class-based society Mcnair, : Accordingly, ideological influence is crucial for the exercise of social power.
Owners and managers of media industries can produce and reproduce contents in favour of their own interests far easier than other social groups because they manage social institutions; thereby the public arena is in control of the dominant ideology. The most important function of the news media is to contribute to the public sphere.
Mcnair : 3—4 also identified the conditions of the changing meaning of public sphere. In the process, the pursuit of interests has replaced the idea of serving the public interest as the driving force of journalism.
The result of these pressures has created the concept of infotainment journalism containing entertainment values instead of informational content. Therefore, infotainment journalism attracts the mass audiences since the intellectual level of its content is low and it comprises the discourse of mainstream media markets.
From a Habermasian perspective, the public sphere is conceptualized ideally as a platform where everyone has a right to sit and share ideas with others on any socioeconomic and political issues related to public interest and concern through critical debate see Moyo, The notion of public sphere has been determinative to generate a discussion about why journalism is important in a democratic society. However, the realities of a newsroom culture and the capitalist structure have shaped the journalism.
As classic liberal approach has suggested, citizens should access to a range of news media to understand what is happening in the world. Barker specifies two central arguments arguing that the Internet is a tool for consolidating the democracy in social life. The first view puts forward the core principles of public sphere. Accordingly, the Internet provides the dissemination of information and interactive discussions. The second argument claims that the Internet expands the public sphere and opens up new places where the free speech is possible. Freedman : 12 has also emphasized that the concentration of media power is anti-democratic both because it hands definitional, analytical and interpretive power to unelected organizations and undermines the ability of citizens to acquire and exchange the range of information and ideas necessary to take conscious decisions about public life.
Downing draws attention to the uses of alternative media in global civil society.
School of Journalism and Communication, CUHK - LEE, Francis L.F.
Social movements and Internet communication create a power of direct on-call information, sharing and reinforcing collective identity on a virtual basis, and summons up collective actions through ideological reassertions and calls to action. As Atton and Hamilton note, the participation of a vast number of activists and enthusiasts contributes to open-ended and multi-perspective journalism.
She also points out the role of a public sphere created by alternative media and democratic project that takes the antagonistic circumstances of the public sphere into account. Such a public sphere arises from discriminated other, the unequal, the oppressed and those who are prevented from expressing themselves and their position being counter to public gain and negotiation power. Alternative journalism practices have emerged from the constraints of the pluralist news media. Atton and Hamilton : — emphasized that alternative media is characterized by its potential for public participation.
The practices of alternative journalism are opposed to the dominant, professionalized media practices, which tend to marginalize or misrepresent the majority of social actors. Fuchs argues that alternative media that questions dominative society can be regarded as the communicative dimension of the counter-public sphere. Alternative media challenges the dominant capitalist forms of media production, media structures, content, distribution and reception and is characterized by critical perspective and content.
In addition, alternative media has the potential to stimulate public debates. Therefore, it is frequently connected to protest movements that make use of these media for information, communication, coordination and cooperation processes. There is oppositional content which forms alternatives to the dominant repressive approaches reflecting the rule of capital, patriarchy, racism, sexism, nationalism and so on.
Such content includes oppositional ideas, counter-information and counter-hegemony that represent the voices of excluded social groups. Alternative media provides the participation of the members of a community in the content-production. The mainstream media plays a crucial role for the justification of the dominant forms of public discourse.
Alternative media produces non-conformist and counter-hegemonic representations Bailey et al. Media activism contributes to media democracy by developing dissident thoughts that go beyond established politics. Alternative media aims to create an environment that has liability to the public and to produce a content independent of the ownership and control relationships. For this reason, alternative journalism is crucial to inter-nationalizing the values of democracy. In this article, I have attempted to analyse the notion of alternative journalism and critical journalism education within the framework of OHO program and benefited from descriptive—interpretive qualitative research method.
Thus, I have explained which aspects of the OHO education has framed the requirements and elements of critical journalism education through its schedule. OHO education that is carried out by Bianet has the potential to transform journalism practices of not only alternative media but also mainstream media. Therefore, a critical approach is a vital pre-condition for free media and democratic society beyond the production and ownership structure. First, I have discussed the concept of critical news literacy to comprehend the processes of critical thinking and then analysed the details of OHO program.
Mass media is involved in all aspects of the social life partly because of the on-going technological changes. Media texts reach audiences via different communication tools such as movies, television, newspaper, Internet, video clips and advertisement. Developments in the fields of technology and media require a critical media literacy to improve the capabilities of students and citizens as active participants in a democratic society Kellner and Share, The critical media literacy approach is based on both the critical theories in social research and the critical pedagogy in the field of education.
Binark and Bek argue that a radical approach dealing with the concepts of criticism and citizenship requires an education of media literacy. A harmful content does not only consist of violence and pornography. First of all, it is observed that there are representation issues such as sexism, racism and an incitement to war in the Turkish media. Within the framework of these issues, a new approach needs to be developed.
Critical media literacy gives an opportunity to see the inequalities represented by class, gender and ethnic differences in media, yet mainstream media seems to protect adolescents from the negative influences of media and disregards the injustices reproduced by itself. Kellner and Share : 6—8 set forth four approaches of media education, which are Protectionist approach, media arts education, media literacy movement and critical media literacy.
Accordingly, the protectionist approach aims to protect people against the dangers of media manipulation and addiction. The media arts education covers the aesthetic qualities of media. The media literacy movement which has emerged from the United States, contains the skills of access, analysis, evaluation and communication. The fourth approach that is the critical media literacy focuses on ideology critiques and the examination of the politics of the representation like gender, race, class and sexuality. The critical media literacy brings a new perspective to the relationship between ideology, media and capital.
Add to cart. Be the first to write a review About this product. About this product Product Information Internet Newspapers: The Making of a Mainstream Mediumexamines newspapers on the Internet, and addresses the emergence of online newspapers and the delivery of news through this outlet. Utilizing empirical research, chapters explore the theoretical and practical issues associated with Internet newspapers and examine the process through which online newspapers have grown into a mainstream medium. Contributions to this work emphasize three key areas: the structure and presentation of newspapers on the Internet; the medium as an interactive process; and the ways in which the public interacts with Internet newspapers.
This collection makes a substantial contribution to the understanding of newspapers on the Internet, covering their development and changes as well as the impact that news delivery through this medium has had on other media, audiences, and society. The volume encourages additional scholarship in this area, and also shows how researchers can benefit from an empirical approach to their examination of Internet newspapers.
Internet Newspaperswill appeal to scholars, researchers, and students of journalism and mass communications, and can be used as a supplementary text in advanced courses covering journalism, communication technology, and mass media and society. Additional Product Features Dewey Edition. Contents: E. Dennis, Foreword. Li, Introduction. Greer, D. Internet Newspapers.
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