Reorganizing the local. New alternative media as a chance for qualitative journalism on a local level

TitleReorganizing the local. New alternative media as a chance for qualitative journalism on a local level
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Arnold, K., and M. Harnischmacher
Affiliation (1st Author)University of Trier
Section or WGJournalism Research and Education Section
DateSat 29 June
Slot CodeJRE S1a
Slot Code (Keyword)JRE S1a
Time of Session9:00-10:30
Session TitleThe ‘Glocalization’ of Journalism Crisis Theme III: Professional Journalism
Submission ID6716

Although, in many countries, local journalism remains a dominant source of information about local politics and culture (Rosenstiel  et. al. 2011), surprisingly little attention is being paid to the local level in the debate about the current newspaper crisis (Arnold 2009). This presentation will take a look at the local media market in Germany and examine the role of new alternative news websites (creative websites which provide local information but are not affiliated to traditional local media) from a neo-institutionalistic standpoint (Scott 1995). Using a mixed method approach consisting of a standardized online survey of the websites’ creators, as well as a number of case studies, this study sets out to explore their self-concept, quality and performance, as well as their relationship to their traditional peers. The questionnaire covered four thematic areas: content, identity, financing, and plans for future development (187 items). A first case study examined five alternative websites with a detailed content analysis. In each case, 30 news articles were examined regarding journalistic quality and professionalism (39 items). A second case study compared the news coverage of two websites of traditional local newspapers with that of their alternative local competitors (320 articles).  The study shows that most of the new websites provide a professional journalism in the conventional sense. Most of the websites’ creators consider themselves journalists, many have a traditional education in journalism. Their reporting has a clear emphasize on information over opinion, with the general tone being objective rather than subjective. In many instances, the new alternative players supplement the traditional local papers’ news coverage with background information on local politics and culture and thereby act as a welcome addition to the local news environment. Contrary to what one might expect, most of these alternative players are neither participatory journalism (Neuberger 2010) nor “journalism from the edges” (Lasica 2003), posing a threat to traditional journalistic values (Dahlgren 2009, Outing 2011). In the neo-institutional perspective, this new alternative journalism does not challenge traditional journalistic institutions but sets out to change the organizational structure of the local news markets in Germany.   References Arnold, K. (2009), Qualitätsjournalismus. Die Zeitung und ihr Publikum. Konstanz: UVK. Dahlgren, P. (2009), The troubling evolution of journalism. In B. Zelitzer, (Ed.), The changing faces of journalism. (p. 146-161). New York: Routledge. Deuze, M. (2007), Media work. Cambridge: Polity. Lasica, J.D. (2003), Blogs and journalism need each other. Niemann Reports, Fall 2003, 70-74. Neuberger, C., Nuernbergk, C. (2010), Competition, complementarity or integration? Journalism Practice, 4 (3), Special issue ‚The Future of Journalism’. Outing, S. (2011), The 11 layers of citizen journalism. Poynter Online, 13.06.2005., updated 02.03.2011. Pisani, F. (2006), Journalism and Web 2.0. Nieman Reports, Winter 2006. Rosenstiel, T., Mitchell, A., Purcell, K., Rainie, L. (2011), How people learn about their local community. PEW Research Center, Sep 26, 2011. Scott, W. R. (1995), Institutions and Organizations. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

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