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Title: Hyperlocal community media audiences : an ethnographic study of local media spaces and their place in everyday life
Author: Turner, Jerome
ISNI:       0000 0004 7426 3874
Awarding Body: Birmingham City University
Current Institution: Birmingham City University
Date of Award: 2018
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Hyperlocal media is a form of online, alternative community media created by citizens to service their locality. To date, much of the scholarly work in this area has focused on editorial practice, non-UK contexts, or frames these practices as response to receding mainstream local journalism and concerns of civic engagement. In this study I take a different approach, exploring instead the everyday, functional and social contexts which are established in the audience's highly participatory use of hyperlocal Facebook Pages. I conceptualise such spaces as fields which are integrated both in the individual user's media ideology, but also amongst a wider sense of overlapping fields of local information and socialites, both online and offline. This work emerges from ethnographic studies of two hyperlocal communities in the West Midlands, in which information was gathered through participant observation, interview, and via an innovative Community Panel approach. I argue that Facebook Pages play a key role for many people in engaging with their neighbourhoods, but not exclusively so, as I demonstrate their place amongst other sources of information and social life. The Pages benefit from being mediated by their editors to create online spaces that welcome participation partly shaped by the audience's engagement and contribution, thus creating alternative streams of local information that challenge agendas set out by mainstream media. These become integrated into the everyday practices of the audience, therefore, care must be taken to recognise to what extent the broader experience of the neighbourhood is represented in such online practices, and I argue that certain narratives and discourses of the locality are contributed to and constructed online, and not always helpfully so, as in depictions of crime. Where the audience might challenge such depictions, and hold authority to account (the police, for example), this public sphere ideal is not typically acted through. Whilst this does not bode well for the literature's hopes for political or civic engagement, this thesis demonstrates that audiences develop such spaces in their own vision, to enact and share a capital of local knowledge and information, sometimes innovating in their own ways using mobile technologies in order to do so. This thesis concludes by saying that such online spaces demonstrate the role of media technologies in everyday life, and the extent to which they are perpetuated and maintained by practitioners and their increasingly capable and enabled audiences.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: P300 Media studies