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Tony Harcup <[log in to unmask]>
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Tony Harcup <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 16 Sep 2015 11:51:49 +0100
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Colleagues may be interested in two related research articles just
published online, both based on a current example of alternative media
in the UK, one of which asks readers what they think. Abstracts and
links are below for your information.

‘Alternative Journalism as Monitorial Citizenship? A case study of a
local news blog’, Digital Journalism, 2015:


'Recent years have seen claims that some examples of online
alternative journalism in the form of hyperlocal and local blogs are
helping to address society’s “democratic deficit” by subjecting the
actions of the powerful to increased public scrutiny, in a process
that has been described as “monitorial citizenship”. To explore how
this might work in practice, this study examines the origins,
motivations and practices of one such site in the United Kingdom: the
Leeds Citizen. The aim is to provide the sort of detailed
consideration in depth that is almost by definition missing from wider
surveys of the field. To this end, the case study is based on a series
of interviews with the site’s creator, augmented by analysis of
content, all discussed within the context of scholarly literature on
how alternative, non-commercial forms of journalism operate in the
digital age. The article concludes that this contemporary form of
alternative journalism may indeed be described as an example of
monitorial citizenship in action, but there is also a need for further


‘Asking the Readers: Audience research into alternative journalism’,
Journalism Practice, 2015:


'Alternative forms of journalism are said to challenge the passive
role of audience members as receivers and to foster active citizenship
among alternative journalists and audiences. Yet the scholarly
literature on alternative journalism contains more assertions about
than evidence from the audience. Downing has described the audience
for alternative media as “the virtually unknown”, prompting him to
urge journalism scholars to undertake more audience research to help
increase our understanding of this allegedly active and civic-minded
public. This exploratory study of the people who regularly read a
contemporary example of alternative journalism—an investigative local
blog covering one UK city—is intended to contribute towards filling
the gap identified by Downing. Audience views are explored by means of
questionnaires and focus groups, providing some evidence that
individuals are attracted to alternative journalism by their
dissatisfaction with mainstream media; that they see alternative media
as helping them make sense of the world; and that, to an extent,
engaging with such media is both a prompt to, and a reflection of,
readers’ democratic engagement as citizens. Recognising the
limitations of this small study, the article concludes by reiterating
Downing's call for further research.'