“On the margins”: a qualitative analysis of independent hyperlocal news through a subcultural lens

PhD Thesis

Arnold, C. 2019. “On the margins”: a qualitative analysis of independent hyperlocal news through a subcultural lens. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Faculty of Arts and Humanities
AuthorsArnold, C.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification namePhD

This thesis adopts a little used subcultural lens for a qualitative investigation of selective UK independent hyperlocal publishers. Drawing on the biographical tradition of Robert Park of the Chicago School and the subsequent work on subcultures, it gives voice to 27 independent operators whose narrative of their everyday publishing activities evidences a variety of themes.

These include the emergence of independent hyperlocal publishing as a result of a crisis in mainstream local newspapers. This crisis was the result of a combination of factors: the disruption of the internet, centralisation strategies which distanced local newspapers from communities and finally the effects of the economic downturn. The thesis considers how independent publishers, operating on the margins of the local news ecosystem, have retrieved and repurposed aspects of the mainstream and put them to good use; frequently reinventing working practices discarded by the ‘parent culture’.
Changes to the research field during the study period are also included to show a sector both organising and professionalising itself, while re-negotiating its relationship with mainstream organisations. This is in line with the notion that subcultures can ‘travel’ (Hebdige, 2014: 9) as they evolve. To contextualise narratives, three further interviews were included with representatives of philanthropic organisations which have helped independent publishing gain a foothold in the local news ecosystem.
The thesis includes a high degree of autobiographical inscription by acknowledging the journalistic background of the author. The overall research strategy is a subjective, inductive approach based on the feminist tradition of open-ended, one-to-one interviews. The methodological approach is Grounded theory (Glaser and Strauss, 1967; Corbin and Strauss, 2015; Birks and Mills, 2015).

KeywordsIndependent publishing; hyperlocal publishing; local news ecosystem
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Publication process dates
Deposited31 Jul 2019
AcceptedApr 2019
Output statusUnpublished
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