Is no news bad news? An investigation of local news poverty in Canada
Upheavals in the news industry have sparked concerns about the availability of local news, particularly in smaller cities, suburban municipalities and rural areas. This project will make it possible to launch/moderate a crowd-sourced national map that tracks local news outlet launches/losses/service cuts over time; analyze data from a survey that asked voters in eight Canadian communities if local media equipped them with sufficient news/information to cast an informed vote for their local MP in the 2015 federal election; and analyze social media/daily coverage in the same eight communities to identify/compare the availability of news/information about the local races for MPs. The results will benefit the project partner by informing the advocacy of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression in support of freedom of expression and access to information. The map will help quantify the extent to which access to local news/information and a range of diverse voices is available and identify the type of media/regions hardest hit by news industry retrenchment. The survey/content analysis results will fill a gap in Canadian research on whether and how the critical information needs of communities are being addressed.