Meeting coverage changes with newsroom cutbacks

[July 15, 2010]

Reporters are using Internet tools, such as blogs and social media sites, to aid in coverage of public meeting as staff cuts in newsrooms across the nation mean fewer meetings are covered, a recent study published in Newspaper Research Journal reports.

In-depth interviews of 19 reporters from newspapers across the Southeast facing newsroom cutbacks found that reporters often use social media and blogging tools to report extra information, often procedural and content-related, while the final article in print focused on meeting outcomes. The researchers also found reporters use the Internet to avoid attending public meetings by doing things such as e-reading meeting minutes.

Researchers John C. Besley and M. Chris Roberts also found that journalists differed in their opinion of the importance of covering local public meetings. Some reporters said they did not like covering public meetings and while others said they view the newspaper as the record of public meetings for citizens.

Besley is an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina and Roberts is an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism at the University of Alabama.

The study was published in the summer 2010 issue of Newspaper Research Journal.

Contacts: Sandra H. Utt Cell: (901) 628-2553 e-mail: nrj@newspaperresearchjournal.org or Elinor Kelley Grusin e-mail: egrusin@memphis.edu.

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