Glue, Oil, & Web: The Role of Community Newspapers

Emke, Ivan (2007) Glue, Oil, & Web: The Role of Community Newspapers. In: Canadian Sociology Association Annual Meeting, May 2007, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. (Unpublished)

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One of the enduring institutions in many Canadian rural communities is the weekly community newspaper. Although such newspapers have been challenged by new technologies and consumption practices, they still play a unique role as a forum for local issues. This study began with the assumption that one element of communication is the maintenance of culture across time. Using that definition, one can ask if community newspapers assist a locality in defining itself, celebrating its values, promoting development, and cultivating a sense of social cohesion. The data for this paper is taken from two surveys of a sample of editors of community newspapers in Canada. The first survey was conducted in January/February of 2001, and it included 205 editors. The survey collected information on the content of the newspapers as well as the relationship between the newspaper and the community. The second survey, with 203 responses, was conducted in spring/summer of 2006. The paper offers snapshots of the survey results, affirming both the cohesive potential and the limited power of community newspapers. The paper contextualizes the data by evaluating how these newspapers operate in rural communities, as glue, oil and web. As glue, they help to hold a community together and enable it to talk to itself. The metaphor of newspaper communication as oil implies that a vibrant communications process will act as a lubricant for developing social cohesion. Just as patterns of trust and cooperation may assist economic trade, patterns of communication can enable social relations. Finally, the metaphor of the web implies that communications can be seen as lines of influence and interaction. Community newspapers can help to build and maintain the connections of trust necessary to link members of the community.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
Item ID: 95
Keywords: newspaper, rural communities
Department(s): Grenfell Campus > School of Arts and Social Science > Sociology
Date: May 2007
Date Type: Completion

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