How to scale our understanding of local news health

The economics of local news are no small challenge, but soon we may be able to anticipate significant causes of unhealthy news ecosystems in different U.S. cities.

Philip Napoli, the James R. Shepley Professor of Public Policy at Duke University, says he thinks it’s time to “get past the broad generalization that local journalism is suffering” and start to understand which types of communities are most affected.

“Imagine a little state like New Jersey that has over 500 municipalities. Five-hundred separate local governments. Politically, they’re operating at that level of granularity,” Napoli said.

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Local news trends in U.S. and U.K. to be explored at June conference

Intersecting trends from both the United States and the United Kingdom show that there may be valuable lessons to be found in comparing different news markets across the world, according to journalism researchers based in the U.S.

Shared characteristics like the decline of print and the essential hemorrhaging of digital ad revenue in English-language news environments have meant that many outlets have had to test potential solutions to newsroom woes. But geography often limits where organizations look to find models for success.

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Hyperlocal news outlets failing to maintain focus on communities they cover, research shows

Hyperlocal news publications are turning out to be “not all that local,” says a researcher who looks at the geography of news at the community level.

Carrie Buchanan, a journalism professor at John Carroll University, says that she expected hyperlocal news publications, which often focus on a small suburb or neighbourhood in a larger city, to be better than their metropolitan media counterparts at helping foster identity in local communities.

But since they often do not, as she has found, it can mean real consequences for civic engagement.

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How do cultural attitudes shape crime reporting?

Local news outlets in many parts of Europe do not name those who are accused or convicted of crimes, say researchers who are investigating how differences in cultural attitudes and journalism ethics shape reporting on crime and justice issues.

Romayne Smith Fullerton, an associate professor at Western University, and Maggie Jones Patterson, a professor of journalism at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, are studying variations in crime reporting in 10 European and North American countries.

“We all value things like privacy and the public’s right to know in different ways,” says Smith Fullerton, who is also the ethics editor at J-Source…

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Police practice of withholding crime victims’ names can pose challenges for journalistic credibility, Ryerson Journalism professor’s research shows

Police departments across Canada are refusing to release the names of victims in fatality and murder investigations, a practice one researcher calls a “tremendous step back for press freedom” that could put the public at risk. The withholding of names by police is something new, says Lisa Taylor, an assistant professor at the Ryerson School of Journalism in Toronto. She said journalists made her aware of the issue when they called asking her to comment on the matter in her capacity as an academic.

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Initiatives for strengthening local news systems to be discussed at June conference

Experiments in the United States show that there are ways to foster healthier local news systems through innovative financial models, community engagement and collaboration between newsrooms, says a leading authority on local news “fixes.” Josh Stearns, associate director of the Democracy Fund’s Public Square Program, said he saw first-hand the positive impact these types of initiatives can have while working with six local news organizations in New Jersey.

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