The mobile platform: Challenging traditional models of presenting and distributing local news in England

Fielder, Nancy Clare (2019) The mobile platform: Challenging traditional models of presenting and distributing local news in England. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This is a multi-method study (content analysis further illuminated by a single case study of large newspaper publisher Johnston Press) which explores how the mobile platform is challenging traditional models of presenting and distributing news at England’s local newspapers. It creates a foundation for exploration by examining the print, desktop and mobile platforms of four daily and five weekly titles, within the wider context of financial pressures and community demands.
This thesis examines the lack of mobile specific content and the reasons behind it – arguing that what appears to be an industry failure to thoroughly adopt a new platform was actually a deliberate decision forced by challenging circumstances including an increasing number of competitive platforms, difficult economics and less staff. The findings provide insights into how the demands of the mobile platform have and will continue to change news - altering what local newspapers offer and how they operate. It argues that ultimately mobile is likely to end local titles’ traditional role of informing audiences through a mix of news based on geographical boundaries.
This study’s contribution to knowledge includes recognition that all local journalism in England is now community journalism. It concludes that the increasingly important ‘community glue’ of local journalism is not location-based because mobile extends it beyond geography. Also, community and platform demands are increasing at a time when local newspapers are least able to respond because they are fundamentally hampered by lack of resource. The research’s access to the top decision makers at one of the country’s largest newspaper organisations allowed the thesis to demonstrate how mobile is highlighting the complexity of balancing needs within the industry.

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