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Investigating News Deserts on the Content Level: Geographical Diversity in Swiss News Media


Vogler, Daniel; Weston, Morley; Udris, Linards (2023). Investigating News Deserts on the Content Level: Geographical Diversity in Swiss News Media. Media and Communication, 11(3):343-354.

Abstract

With its diverse landscape of regional and local news media, Switzerland seems far from being a news desert. However, the centralization of editorial offices following the economic crisis of journalism has led to news outlets that share most of their content but appear under different names in different regions. This development has fostered fears about declining geographical diversity at the regional level in the news coverage of Swiss news media. We argue that this centralization by regional news outlets affects news content; it constitutes a specific process of news desertification, which is not aptly captured by news desert research’s focus at the outlet level. With our explorative study, we aim to analyze news deserts at the content level. We apply an automated geoparser to a manually annotated dataset of local news media articles (<em>n</em> = 5,173) published by six regional news outlets of two news organizations between 2016 and 2021 to determine the extent and development of geographical diversity in Swiss regional news media. The geoparser uses a weighted gazetteer-based approach to determine the most relevant locations of news articles within Switzerland. We find early signs of news desertification. At the output level, we observe a declining number of articles published by the analyzed outlets. At the performance level, we see a declining number of unique place names in the articles and more mentions per article. However, the diversity of place names in the coverage remains stable.

Abstract

With its diverse landscape of regional and local news media, Switzerland seems far from being a news desert. However, the centralization of editorial offices following the economic crisis of journalism has led to news outlets that share most of their content but appear under different names in different regions. This development has fostered fears about declining geographical diversity at the regional level in the news coverage of Swiss news media. We argue that this centralization by regional news outlets affects news content; it constitutes a specific process of news desertification, which is not aptly captured by news desert research’s focus at the outlet level. With our explorative study, we aim to analyze news deserts at the content level. We apply an automated geoparser to a manually annotated dataset of local news media articles (<em>n</em> = 5,173) published by six regional news outlets of two news organizations between 2016 and 2021 to determine the extent and development of geographical diversity in Swiss regional news media. The geoparser uses a weighted gazetteer-based approach to determine the most relevant locations of news articles within Switzerland. We find early signs of news desertification. At the output level, we observe a declining number of articles published by the analyzed outlets. At the performance level, we see a declining number of unique place names in the articles and more mentions per article. However, the diversity of place names in the coverage remains stable.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute for Research on the Public Sphere and Society
08 Research Priority Programs > Digital Society Initiative
Dewey Decimal Classification:070 News media, journalism & publishing
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Communication
Uncontrolled Keywords:Communication
Language:English
Date:28 September 2023
Deposited On:28 Aug 2023 10:14
Last Modified:29 Jun 2024 01:38
Publisher:Cogitatio Press
ISSN:2183-2439
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v11i3.6794
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)