Reporting through patriotic lenses: How journalists and political actors understand and assess the community role of local journalism.
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Local news media are seen as key to local democracy and communal cohesion. This article asks how the community role of local journalism is understood and assessed by journalists and political actors. The study builds on 26 in-depth interviews with local journalists and local political actors involved in conflicts over localisation of hospitals in two different regions in Norway. Theoretically, the article draws on research into the roles of local news media and the placemaking features of local journalism. We conceptualise the community role as an overarching role of local journalism, where characteristics related to, e.g., the watchdog and advocacy roles of local journalism may serve a community function. Our analysis shows that local patriotism is regarded as a key aspect of local journalism, where local news media are expected to report through specific spatial lenses to the benefit of the local community. Yet although local journalists and local political actors largely agree on key ideals of local journalism, they advance different perspectives on what form of local news reporting is in the best interest of the community. In sum, local patriotism is considered both a force and an obstacle when journalists are serving the community.