Community Journalism 2017 Abstracts

The Impact of Web Metrics on Community News Decisions: A Resource Dependence Perspective • Tom Arenberg, University of Alabama; Wilson Lowrey • This comparative case study of two community news organizations takes a Resource Dependence approach to assess impact of audience metrics on news decisions, and on mechanisms underlying these decisions. Findings show that the organization that more strongly emphasizes metrics publishes fewer in-depth civic-issue stories, and metrics are more likely to influence newsworthiness. However, reporters’ expertise with strategies for increasing numbers may actually free reporters for enterprise work. Findings also suggest effects from community size.

(Re)Crafting Neighborhood News: The Rise of Journalism Hackathons • Jan Lauren Boyles • This study examines how journalism hackathons construct interactional spaces for community-based conversation around the news. Drawing upon in-depth interviews with global journalism hackathon organizers in nine countries, the findings establish that hack events can heighten face-to-face engagement between news producers and can concurrently strengthen how local communities discuss (and perhaps, even solve) shared societal challenges.

An Optimistic Vision for the Future of Community Newspapers: Where Do Digital Technologies Fit In? • Francis Dalisay, University of Guam; Anup Kumar, Cleveland State University; Leo Jeffres • The declining prospect of daily newspapers has been accompanied by a rush to emphasize online and mobile access while slighting print, but this rush towards a “premature death” of print needs scrutiny, particularly for non-daily community newspapers. We conduct a national survey of non-daily community newspaper editors and publishers (N = 527). We analyze factors predicting their attitudes and use of online technologies, and how they affect the editors and publishers’ vision for the future of their papers. Results suggest the newspapers are not laggards in the use of technologies. They see it important that they serve journalistic functions for their communities. The editors and publishers have an optimistic view of the future, attributing that vision to their local news emphasis, maintaining strong coverage, and being active in the community. Community characteristics positively predicted positive attitudes toward technologies and use. Use and attitudes toward technologies did not predict optimistic vision.

Closing the gap between civic learning, research and community journalism: A critical pragmatic pedagogy • Bernardo Motta, University of South Florida St. Petersburg • This research essay draws on history, case study and pedagogical research methods to describe how theory-informed practices were applied to the re-development of a community journalism program serving a historical African-American neighborhood. The application of practices and activities informed by previous research in Critical Pragmatic Pedagogy, intercultural and race-specific education and communication, community journalism, journalism education and community and civic engagement communication research produced a series of lessons and effects that have been organized in this essay to inform the development and improvement of current theories and practices related to journalism and communication education and, more specifically, community journalism. Findings revealed that the combination of hands-on practices inspired by American Pragmatism with purpose-driven, self-reflexive learning processes from Critical Pedagogy and basic ethnographic and intercultural techniques resulted in a much richer and well-rounded educational experience for journalism students and, furthermore, produced positive impacts in the community.

Technology and the public: The influence of website features on the submission of UGC • Burton Speakman, Ohio University • Web 2.0 creates a situation were the Internet increasingly focuses on submissions of content from non-professionals and interaction between the masses as a method of creating dedicated audiences. Community newspapers work within this rapidly changing media market and one must follow their audience online, despite any reservations about if the web provides a hospitable economic environment. This study examines how community newspaper websites choose to engage in gatekeeping as it relates to UGC. Despite changes in technology gatekeeping continues to occur on community newspaper websites. Furthermore, it provides clarity about what type of audience submitted content is more likely published at community media.


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