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The state of local journalism: A comparative study of local journalistic output in three Swedish municipalities.
Karlstad University, Faculty of Economic Sciences, Communication and IT, Department of Media and Communication Studies.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Journalism plays a central role in the liberal democratic society and it enables the citizens to make informed decisions. In a local community it also holds many social functions such as creating a common local identity and a geographical belonging. This study investigates different aspects of local journalistic output such as news outlets, news topics, democratic value dimensions, framing, original reporting and sourcing. The output includes all types of published material from legacy media organizations. The method has been to make a quantitative content analysis of all the journalistic output produced in seven randomly picked days between July 1 of 2014 and June 30 of 2015 in three different municipalities - Malå, Tranemo and Sandviken. They are all manufacturing municipalities and represents one small, one medium sized and one large community within this type. The result of the analysis shows that a majority of the news items is produced by the local newspapers. They are the key stone media in these municipalities and without the newspapers there is a low number of local news produced by public service media. Sports is the biggest news topic in total but it is especially Sandviken who has the highest ratio of sports news. The democratic values of reporting on societal actors who disagree, decision-making authorities, policy plans and actors concerned are not commonly used. The framing of the news is mostly individual and episodical but that can be explained through the high ratio of sports news. In the more democratically relevant news about politics, economy and social issues, the framing is mostly public and thematic. A large proportion of the news is produced by original reporting with a byline. Letters to the editor is also a common type of content. When it comes to sourcing one third of the news content is not mentioning any sources at all. Sourcing is mostly common in the sports news. The study finally discusses how the local journalistic output seems to relate to democratic functions and social identity. Future studies of more municipalities or qualitative studies of citizen views or journalistic working methods would be ways of creating a deeper understanding of the state of local journalism.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 86 p.
Keyword [en]
Local journalism, content analysis, news ecology, democracy, social identity
Keyword [sv]
Lokaljournalistik, innehållsanalys, nyhetsekologi, demokrati, social identitet
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-45476OAI: diva2:956374
Subject / course
Media and Communication Studies
Available from: 2016-09-05 Created: 2016-08-30 Last updated: 2016-09-05Bibliographically approved

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