Local news boosts democracy

May 18, 2017
Megan Catalano

Social media plays a large role in politics, but how does it affect public engagement and election results in smaller communities with less access to traditional news outlets?

College of Interdisciplinary Studies Assistant Prof. and Program Head Jaigris Hodson has been researching the role of social media and local news poverty with April Lindgren, associate professor at the Ryerson School of Journalism, and Jon Corbett, associate professor at University of British Columbia-Okanagan. The researchers analyzed tweets in eight Canadian communities with differing availability of local news sources to determine Twitter’s impact during the 2015 Canadian federal election.

“If the election south of the border has shown us anything, it’s that it’s really important to have a thriving local news ecosystem that can help reflect and report on the views of small and rural communities that are underserved by larger media centres,” says Hodson. “Unfortunately, it is those very outlets that are under threat from media consolidation and closures around the world.”

Hodson will present her research alongside Lindgren and Corbett June 1 at Congress 2017. Following their presentation, the trio will participate in a conference at Ryerson University on the future of local news and will produce a multi-media journal with contributions from conference participants.