May 24, 2013

Interesting research: Are community newspapers projecting themselves as commodities online?

This turned up in my email today as an advance alert from New Media and Society. The paper by Marcus Funk at the University of Texas has an interesting premise. The abstract:

American community newspapers, as well as larger daily publications, do little to articulate a sense of local identity or place in the banners of their websites, or their newspaper names atop the web page. Instead, newspapers routinely articulate a professional identity above a local one – often omitting the name of the community entirely, and only occasionally offering a major visual expression of the community. This complicates Benedict Anderson’s sense of ‘imagined communities’, which argues that local identity is constructed through clear articulation by print media; if newspaper websites ignore local identity in their banners, then community newspapers today are imaging commodity rather than community. This qualitative analysis of 40 American community newspapers and 80 daily American newspapers divides that local articulation into four categories (absent identity, secondary identity, equal identity and visual identity) and explores implications for the academy and newspaper industry.

At one time, this was more of a complaint, before sites got wiser on search engine optimization and began putting location more regularly into the title tags. So I wonder how important the banner is in that regard now.

However, news sites that just provide a "contact" form with no address or phone number (and even better, a list of key personnel) should summarily be shot. And I still run into too many of those.

No comments: