News Connections: Regional newspapers and the Web
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This paper examines key discussions occurring in relation to three issues currently affecting the news media both globally and locally. They are: an apparent disconnection between the media and their publics; declines in circulation and readership; and the increasing role and influence of new technologies on news media. While this paper considers these issues at the global level, it applies them to the local. It does so through an exploration of their impact on and consequences for regional newspapers in Queensland. Specifically, I explore these issues through an examination of the current status of Queensland regional newspapers in relation to a number of areas including: circulation; the use of information technologies, in particular websites; and how technologies might be used to foster public discussion in the process connecting geographically isolated publics and creating new readerships. This paper sets the scene by reviewing the latest research and discussion surrounding the key issues of public disconnection with media, declining circulations of newspapers and the Internet's impact on newspapers. In respect to the latter issue, this paper investigates some of the ways in which the Internet is being used as a method of reinvolving a variety of publics in public discussion and reconnecting them with journalists. I then provide an overview of the current status of Queensland regional newspapers in relation to circulation and their use of websites. Finally, this paper draws on the recent developments in the use of the web by newspapers, particularly those in the USA, to provide a number of suggestions and ideas about 2 how regional newspapers might improve their use of information technologies. In particular, the web offers these newspapers a method of addressing ongoing circulation declines as well as the disconnection between the news media and publics.
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