The What, Where, and Why of Local News in the United States

Authored by: Angela M. Lee

The Routledge Companion to Local Media and Journalism

Print publication date:  April  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780815375364
eBook ISBN: 9781351239943
Adobe ISBN:


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With the rise of digital technology and social media, the ways in which journalism is produced, delivered, and consumed are changing rapidly, and the same is true in local media. This chapter seeks to examine the evolution, nature, promises, and limitations of local media in the context of the larger US media ecology. Specifically, this chapter will revisit the concept of ‘local news’ in conjunction with the fact that more and more people now commute to work rather than live and work in the same local community as they used to, and it will also examine the impact of online news consumption on local news from the angle of audience reception. All of these emerging issues challenge the traditional definition of local based on geographic segregation, which raises questions about the changing role of local news media in today’s media landscape. Additionally, to assess the state and future of local journalism, this chapter will offer a brief historical overview of local journalism’s strengths and weaknesses through the lens of the Uses and Gratifications paradigm. Last, drawing on recent reports from Pew Research Center’s ‘State of the News Media’ report, this chapter will offer an overview of why and how American audiences are using local news media in relation to other news and social platforms.

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