“We Were Facebook before Facebook”: The Existential (Not Only Economic) Threat to Community Weekly Newspapers in the US

Nick Mathews, Benjamin Toff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Researchers and practitioners recently have observed the intricate and ever-evolving relationship between publishers and platforms may be reaching a crucial crossroads as each fight for relevancy and profitability amidst disruption in both media industries. This article draws on in-depth interviews with owners and editors of community weekly newspapers in the US to examine how such understudied local news organizations are responding to the threat posed by Facebook. Findings underscore the platform’s impact on these news outlets’ business models, especially how publishers see themselves as competing directly with the platform for a shrinking pot of advertising dollars, but they also highlight how many view the platform as a competitor for crucial content. Having historically given prominence to community-connecting cultural content to fulfill audiences’ “ritual” needs, owners and editors of community weekly newspapers struggle to carve out their own unique identity and stay relevant in a world in which many audiences have come to see their social media feeds as the more relevant place to chronicle their everyday lives. These changes have serious, negative and long-term implications for the survival of these smaller news outlets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)476-493
Number of pages18
JournalDigital Journalism
Volume12
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • Facebook
  • Local news
  • rural media
  • social media
  • weekly newspapers

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