Local political journalism: systematic pressures on the normative functions of local news

Julie Firmstone, Rebecca Whittington

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    This chapter considers how changes to the political economy of local journalism are reconfiguring and constraining its ability to contribute to the reporting of local politics. Grounded in a normative perspective that assigns a crucial role to the news media in the healthy functioning of local democracies, the chapter explores the current context of the United Kingdom, setting out the systematic pressures that threaten the future of local journalism. Focusing on local newspapers, we establish what is at stake and what stands to be lost from their decline. Based on research that shows an increasing focus on digital news production practices, we identify two key trends and discuss their consequences. First, the move to digital distribution and social media platforms has seen a decrease in the gatekeeping authority of journalists with audience preferences via social and online networks driving the news agenda. Second, these changes in newsroom practices have reduced opportunities for audiences to engage with the type of political and public interest news that facilitates political engagement. Digital practices dilute the local relevance of news, prioritise shareable or breaking non-political news, resulting in blander, softer and less geographically focused content.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Political Journalism
    EditorsJames Morrison, Jen Birks, Mike Berry
    Number of pages9
    ISBN (Electronic)9780429284571
    ISBN (Print)9780367248222
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2021


    • journalism
    • journalism practice
    • political economy
    • Local newspapers
    • Public interest


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