Looking for community in community news: An examination of public-spirited content in online local news sites

Summer Harlow, Monica Chadha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Scholars have questioned the extent to which journalism’s public-service values can be reconciled with the financial responsibilities of running an online, entrepreneurial news site. This study explores that debate using content analysis and secondary survey data to examine the links between financial sustainability, technological innovation, and community-centric content at online local news sites in the United States. Results suggest that ownership, revenue, financing mechanisms, and mission relate to the extent to which online, local news sites fulfill the civic engagement criterion of community news. High-revenue and advertising-supported sites published less public-spirited content than lower-earning sites with alternative funding mechanisms. Non-profit and foundation/university/grant-financed sites incorporated more interactive features than the other sites. Ultimately, this study suggests that the sustainability of online community news sites, in terms of finances and community engagement mission, seems to be tied to new, alternative ways of thinking about funding and ownership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)596-615
Number of pages20
JournalJournalism
Volume22
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Community
  • entrepreneurial journalism
  • innovation
  • media management/financing/regulation
  • online/digital journalism
  • sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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