“Someone Should Do Something”: Exploring Public Sphere Ideals in the Audiences of UK Hyperlocal Media Facebook Pages

Turner, Jerome (2021) “Someone Should Do Something”: Exploring Public Sphere Ideals in the Audiences of UK Hyperlocal Media Facebook Pages. Journalism Studies, 22 (16). pp. 2236-2255. ISSN 1461-670X

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Hyperlocal media is a form of citizen-led, online community media serving at neighbourhood level. Frequently deployed on social media and resulting in high levels of audience participation, we might assume that such spaces enable residents in a civic and activist mode. This article ethnographically explores hyperlocal audiences to investigate the potential for spaces of public sphere. In studying two Facebook Pages in the West Midlands, UK, I found that, whilst public opinion was formed over civic matters, often in critique of police or the local councils, the ideal of mobilising to directly challenge such authorities was rarely followed through. I therefore question the value or agency in talking about authority rather than to them. The citizen editors do attempt to encourage activism, but I suggest that audiences become too reliant on their efforts and revert to more passive “clicktivism”. The article also raises concerns that such online spaces offer authorities opportunity for covert monitoring of citizens, at odds with the public sphere ideal. This article therefore informs wider understanding of the nature of participation. Hyperlocal spaces clearly offer functional and social value, but the idea that this equates to a powerful public sphere is challenged.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1080/1461670X.2021.1991837
5 October 2021Accepted
22 October 2021Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: hyperlocal media, audiences, public sphere, civic engagement, social media, facebook
Subjects: CAH24 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01-04 - journalism
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham School of Media
Depositing User: Jerome Turner
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2022 16:13
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2023 03:00
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12640

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