Locked Up : Local Newsrooms Managing a Digital Shift at the Centre of the Covid-19 Outbreak

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Year of publication 2024
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Journalism Practice
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Web https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17512786.2023.2266483
Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2023.2266483
Keywords Local journalism; Covid-19; emergency; digital journalism; digital shift; local journalists?
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Description In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, newsrooms mediated information as quickly as possible for their information-starved audience. In Estonia, Covid-19 initially impacted two large islands, which led to their isolation from the mainland as a precaution. Therefore, local journalism became more crucial than ever, providing news with proximity to the audience members who needed guidance and information, and informing the rest of the nation about the consequences the virus was having on the people of the islands. Considering the pressure on the locals, the interest of the rest of Estonia, and the unfamiliar emergency situation, our study focuses on local newsrooms’ approaches to digital news at the centre of Estonia’s lockdown on the islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. We conducted eight semi-structured interviews. The results indicate that local journalists had a limited understanding of the importance of their online presence during (and before) the lockdown, and, therefore, lacked the willingness to carry out the digital shift. The shift was also hindered by the journalists’ lack of skills and knowledge of digital platforms and their specificity. Overall, we call local journalists on the islands “digital beginners”.
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