Exploring the potential for crowdsourced spatial information to inform debate related to the changing Canadian local news landscape
journal contributionposted on 2021-05-21, 17:24 authored by Jon Corbett, April Lindgren
This paper investigates an applied participatory mapping research project that enables members of the public to crowdsource information for Canada’s first community spatial database documenting contemporary changes to local news outlets. This data is presented on the Local News Map, which locates where news organizations are closing or cutting back services and where new outlets are launched or services are increased. The tool, released in mid-2016 by Canadian academics, is a web-based, interactive platform that displays map markers and descriptive information about changes to local television, radio, online sites and newspapers dating from 2008 to the present. Map filters allow users to select and view specific information about these changes. We explore the impact of the project, demonstrating that the map has enriched the public sphere by generating robust empirical data on news outlets that have shut down or launched or increased/decreased service in their communities. Specifically, we found strong and ongoing demand from journalists who use the platform’s data to provide context for stories about the ongoing disruption in the local news sector. We also identify other impact indicators for further investigation.