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Friend or foe? Regional newspapers and the power of Facebook
journal contributionposted on 2015-08-05, 00:00 authored by Kristy HessKristy Hess, K Bowd
This paper examines how some regional newspapers in Australia are engaging with the social media juggernaut Facebook and the effects of this on their relationships with audiences in a digital world. We highlight how terms such as ‘friend’ and ‘community’ mask complex power struggles taking place across these two media platforms. On the one hand, Facebook can facilitate public conversation and widen the options for journalists to access information but, on the other, it has become a competitor for advertising revenue as news outlets struggle to find a business model for online spaces. We suggest that newspapers and journalists are facing challenges in navigating the complexities of a platform that crosses public/private domains at a time when the very nature of ‘private’ and ‘public’ is being contested. The paper adopts a ‘pooled case comparison’ approach to research, drawing on data from two separate Australian studies that examine regional newspapers in a digital landscape. The research draws on interviews with journalists and editors in Australia across three states and on focus groups and interviews with newspaper readers in Victoria.