Yesterday I wrote about how harassment of local journalists can be an even bigger problem for citizen journalists. As Bristol Post editor Mike Norton wrote about the Bristol mayor and his cabinet: “they are trying to control the narrative,” he added. “Ultimately they would prefer for journalists not to be present and don’t like the extra scrutiny the LDR is bringing.”
Today, I’m moving on to other forms of attempted censorship.
Social media has begun introducing censorship and active dispute of some posts, as was seen with Donald Trump and has been documented by Media Lens, Glenn Greenwald and Jonathan Cook.
All the writers mentioned work in a section of the media that Hallin would identify as being part of the ‘deviant’ media sphere. They do not cover issues that are attractive to public officials or the establishment and so do not get covered in the mainstream media.
Through the use of blogs and social media, their message, however, has been able to reach an audience but this might now be threatened by censorship from Facebook and Twitter [other social media too?] . YouTube has also taken down accounts and videos of those reporting within the ‘deviant’ sphere.
In local reporting, I have yet to see an instance of this. Social media platforms tend to deal with owners who deal with governments and government agencies. Local journalists are barely considered news outside of their local areas. Sometimes stories get picked up by national papers or tv stations — see Colston Statue toppling — when a local story became worldwide news, and the mayor who had previously stated he wanted nothing to do with the issue of the statue –“the best thing to do is to keep that debate away from me” [link1 link2], appeared in tens and maybe hundreds of news reports around the world [link3].
This was an anomaly. It may have been exploited to provide as much coverage of a local mayor as possible but it is not usually possible to get national coverage of a local issue.
One other time this happened was with a local story about the mayor of Bristol about to impose a charge on diesel vehicles while the council had just ordered £2.7m of diesel vehicles for their fleet. That story went from my blog to a local paper before being picked up by the Times, the Sun, the Metro, the Mirror and the Telegraph.
Again, these are exceptions.
Goings on in local councils do not tend to interest national governments or the national press. In fact, when the Huffington Post teamed up with the Bureau Local, they had to add to their stories an added note of context saying ‘this is important’. The idea being, I suspect that no one would think local matters were important even though they affect everyone reading them. [see further about ‘Westminster bubble’]
So local ‘deviant’ issues might be safer from censorship from multi-million/billion platforms than national ‘deviant’ issues. What makes it tough for local issues to reach a wider readership might also protect them from being made completely invisible.
This isn’t a topic I have read about elsewhere so it might be worth pursuing for an article in a journal.
To link these topics back to local participation; citizen journalists have to find ways to not only get their story heard — issues of distribution and reach — but also need to be trusted as sources. Which factors build authority and trust? See Mexican article about trust while anonymous too.
Other articles I found yesterday:
Ellison, Nick and Hardey, Michael (2013) Social Media and Local Government: Citizenship, Consumption and Democracy. Local Government Studies.
Bogaerts, Jo. 2011. “On the Performativity of Journalistic Identity.” Journalism Practice, 5 (4): 399–413.
Ingrid Bachmann, Teresa Correa, and Homero Gil de Zúñiga (2012) Profiling Online Political Content Creators: Advancing the Paths to Democracy. International Journal of E-Politics, 3(4), 1-19, October-December 2012.
Xiaoming, H., Nainan, W. and George, C. (2014) The Impact of Online News Consumption on Young People’s Political Participation. International Journal of E-Politics. April 2014.
Ardèvol-Abreu, A., Hooker, C., Gil de Zúñiga, H. (2017) Online news creation, trust in the media, and political participation: Direct and moderating effects over time. Journalism 1-21.
Wall, M. (2017) Mapping Citizen and Participatory Journalism. Journalism Practice 11:2-3, 124-141.