Lookup NU author(s): Dr David Baines
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to interrogate the potential for hyper-local news websites to support and sustain peripheral rural communities by extending and developing the public sphere(s) in which they engage locally and globally. Design/methodology/approach – Theoretical understandings of communicative spaces, monitorial citizenship and “liquid life” and journalism developed by Jurgen Habermas, Michael Schudson, Zygmunt Bauman and Mark Deuze inform this pilot study of a hyper-local project undertaken by a UK media corporation. Data sets comprising documentation; news-website content; interviews with journalists; “knowledge café” exploration of audience interactions and questionnaires are analysed to identify themes and sub-themes in the production and use of media content. Findings – The hyper-local project was found to have been put in place without engaging effective involvement of the community concerned and the initial conceptualisation, predicated on assumptions of an inward focus for the community, did not recognise the importance of communicative networks which both supported sustainability within the group and situated that community in wider social, cultural, economic and media dimensions. As such the project tended to reinforce, or at least, not mitigate, the community's geographical isolation. Research limitations/implications – This is a small-scale pilot project exploring new forms of media/community engagement and, while the results can be regarded as indicative, further research is needed to investigate hyper-local developments in a wider contextual field. Originality/value – The paper addresses an important but little-researched emergent issue: “hyper-local”. It explores in detail some of the complexities that are beginning to be theorised in broad terms and extends understandings of local-level practices and processes.
Author(s): Baines D
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy
Print publication date: 01/09/2010
ISSN (print): 0144-333X
ISSN (electronic): 1758-6720
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.
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