Hyperlocal Community Media Audiences: An Ethnographic Study of Local Media Spaces and Their Place in Everyday Life

Turner, Jerome (2018) Hyperlocal Community Media Audiences: An Ethnographic Study of Local Media Spaces and Their Place in Everyday Life. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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Hyperlocal media is a form of online, alternative community media created by citizens to service their locality. To date, much of the scholarly work in this area has focused on editorial practice, non-UK contexts, or frames these practices as response to receding mainstream local journalism and concerns of civic engagement. In this study I take a different approach, exploring instead the everyday, functional and social contexts which are established in the audience’s highly participatory use of hyperlocal Facebook Pages. I conceptualise such spaces as fields which are integrated both in the individual user’s media ideology, but also amongst a wider sense of overlapping fields of local information and socialites, both online and offline. This work emerges from ethnographic studies of two hyperlocal communities in the West Midlands, in which information was gathered through participant observation, interview, and via an innovative Community Panel approach.
I argue that Facebook Pages play a key role for many people in engaging with their neighbourhoods, but not exclusively so, as I demonstrate their place amongst other sources of information and social life. The Pages benefit from being mediated by their editors to create online spaces that welcome participation partly shaped by the audience’s engagement and contribution, thus creating alternative streams of local information that challenge agendas set out by mainstream media. These become integrated into the everyday practices of the audience, therefore, care must be taken to recognise to what extent the broader experience of the neighbourhood is represented in such online practices, and I argue that certain narratives and discourses of the locality are contributed to and constructed online, and not always helpfully so, as in depictions of crime. Where the audience might challenge such depictions, and hold authority to account (the police, for example), this public sphere ideal is not typically acted through. Whilst this does not bode well for the literature’s hopes for political or civic engagement, this thesis demonstrates that audiences develop such spaces in their own vision, to enact and share a capital of local knowledge and information, sometimes innovating in their own ways using mobile technologies in order to do so. This thesis concludes by saying that such online spaces demonstrate the role of media technologies in everyday life, and the extent to which they are perpetuated and maintained by practitioners and their increasingly capable and enabled audiences.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: CAH24 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01-05 - media studies
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham Institute of Media and English > Birmingham School of Media
Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Kip Darling
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2018 14:19
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 16:17
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/6402

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