Two articles based on our collaborative work in the Storycircle project (Goldsmiths, completed July 2013) have just been published in March, Digital citizenship? Narrative exchange and the changing terms of civic culture, in Citizenship Studies, and News in the community? Investigating emerging inter-local spaces of news production/consumption in Journalism Studies.
In Digital citizenship we explored the possibilities for new forms of ‘digital citizenship’ currently emerging through digitally supported processes of narrative exchange. Using Dahlgren’s (Dahlgren, P. 2003. “Reconfiguring Civic Culture in the New Media Milieu.” In Media and the Restyling of Politics, edited by J. Corner, and D. Pels, 151–170. London: Sage; Dahlgren, P. 2009. Media and Political Engagement. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.) circuit of ‘civic culture’ as a model for exploring the interlinking preconditions for new acts of citizenship, we discuss the contrasting outcomes of research at three fieldwork sites in the North of England – educational (a sixth form college), civil society (a community reporters’ network) and social (a local club). Each site provided clear evidence of the elements of Dahlgren’s circuit (some depending on the intensive use of digital infrastructure, others predating it), but there were also breaks in the circuit that constrained its effectiveness. A crucial factor in each case for building a lasting circuit of civic culture (and an effective base for new forms of digital citizenship) is the role that digital infrastructure can play in extending the scale of interactions beyond the purely local.
In News in the Community we examined the emergence of new, inter-local spaces of news production and consumption, drawing again on our extensive fieldwork and interviews with community reporters trained by a community reporter organisation based in the north of England. Practices of news production and content generation are focused on people’s own communities and they are underpinned by an ethos of production, which is grounded in a critical consumption of news and collective processes of skill acquisition. Through an analysis of motivations and practices, we account for the values that sustain community reporter communities and discuss how such practices, while emerging from the place of local community, also extend across wider communities of interest. It is suggested that an evolving practice of skill sharing and mutual recognition could potentially stimulate the regrowth of democratic values.