Local journalism and municipal communication in the digital transformation
As digitalisation is leading to a decline in advertising funds, local newspapers are cutting back on their coverage. This also makes it more difficult for municipalities to fulfil their information mandate. Journalistic start-ups and municipal communication service providers are striving to fill this information void.
It is not clear
- how this structural change affects the content-related performance of local communication and
- which conditions promote independent local citizens and the fulfilment of the information mandate by municipalities in the digital world.
In order to answer these questions, we will examine the organisational structures of all local media as well as the communication activities of all Swiss municipalities. To this end, we will evaluate documents such as websites, communication strategy papers or annual municipal reports. We will also conduct an online survey and supplement our investigations with case studies. Thanks to this approach, we hope to collect information regarding the performance of the various types of local media and municipal communication. By combining our results, we will draw conclusions as to which conditions lead to sustainable local communication.
Citizens depend on local media to competently exercise their direct democratic rights at the municipal level in an information-based manner. As observed in other countries, the disappearance of these media leads to a shortage of information and to a decline in personal involvement at the local level. At the same time, this opens up new opportunities for digital providers, which however need to be strengthened by an appropriate legislative framework.
This project aims to characterise the entire structure of local journalism and municipal communication, and to measure its performance with respect to content, in terms of information mandate, independence, political relevance, criticism and control. Further goals are to identify the innovations that are possible in this field and to determine which factors favour sustainable market success.
The analysis of the content performance of various types of local journalism and municipal communication offers media policy makers a basis for decisions on how to shape framework conditions for sustainable, local communication. Additionally, private media providers and municipalities are given innovative tools in the shape of guidelines that will help them cope with the digital transformation.
Local journalism and municipal communication under digital transformation