Community Journalism during the Coronavirus Pandemic: Bringing Home the Importance of Local

Speakers: Karin Wahl-Jorgensen, Professor at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Culture

Moderator: Alice Nemcova Tejkalova, Dean of Charles University’s Faculty of Social Sciences (FSV UK)


December 4th, 2020, 15:00 - 15:30 CET


Written by Mauricio Mandujano Manriquez


Keywords: COVID-19, Local Journalism, Public Goods, Community-based News


Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, local news organizations have faced a dual challenge in society as they become more relevant in their imminent context while being stranded without adequate funding. These news organizations have shifted gears to focus their activities on connecting communities. Yet, their future remains uncertain without adequate financial means.


The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on local news organizations, which has forced them to adapt to the changing environment with scarce financial resources. Moreover, the closure of local newspapers has created a void at the community level. According to Karin Wahl-Jorgensen, professor at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media, and Culture, Community/Local Journalism providers and hyperlocal news organizations have helped in connecting people in new ways during social distancing by promoting local activities and services.

  • Promoting local activities and services

  • News journalism organizations play an important role at the community level.

  • Adaptability by new journalism organizations


The Impact of these local news organizations has been well documented during the pandemic. Across professor Karin Wahl-Jorgensen’s 47 interviews, she noted the organization's capacity by social media. For instance, in one case, people across a village organized to play the same playlist and go “out into the street and all they did was social distancing”; while in other cases, local people advertised their trades.

Nonetheless, local news organizations have also faced tumultuous uncertainty due to their financial instability. As noted by professor Karin Wahl-Jorgensen, “the Pandemic presented an existential challenge for most of these organizations because it lost all its local advertising revenue.” Moreover, often, people who work for these organizations have an additional job or part-time job, making it difficult to professionalize. Though in some cases, as in the case of Wales, the lack of local advertising revenue has been compensated by Welsh Local authorities and EU resources, making some companies more able to survive.


Takeaways

1. New journalism organizations have underscored their role in fostering community cohesion.

2. Despite the contributions of new journalism organizations during the pandemic, their financial stability remains a major vulnerability.

3. In light of the vital role that Local Journalism plays in community fabric, it should be seen as a public good.

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