Journalism
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Examining audience perspectives on local newspaper futures

Publication Date Oct 21, 2022

Abstract

When it comes to examining innovation and small-town newspapers, audience expectations and perspectives have received less focus than newsroom practices and processes. This article presents the findings of Australia’s most comprehensive national survey of local newspaper audiences ( n = 4116), which engaged with readers of more than 170 independently owned, small-town newspapers across the nation. The survey was underpinned by a ‘geo-social’ methodology, which provides a multidimensional framework for understanding the ‘place’ of newspapers in the digital age within their specific geographic context, in this case rural Australia. It used ordinal, nominal and qualitative questions to explore respondents’ experiences, histories, expectations and perspectives related to their local newspaper. Respondents were asked about their preferences for reading and receiving local news, what their newspaper can do better, and the policy debates and interventions shaping the sector. Results indicate a continued desire for the printed product, a passion for localness in terms of both production and content, and a greater say for local news audiences on the policies shaping the future of news in non-metropolitan settings.

Concepts

Small-town Newspapers Local Newspaper Preferences For Reading Newsroom Practices Non-metropolitan Settings Audience Expectations Local News Digital Age Local Audiences Survey Of Audiences

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