A Lefebvrian analysis of news audiences’ media day

In a new study “The Media Day, Revisited: Rhythm, Place and Hyperlocal Information Environments”  Henrik Örnebring and Erika Hellekant Rowe of Karlstad University combined Henri Lefebvre’s concepts of rhythmanalysis and the media day with Ray Oldenburg’s notion of the third place. This was done to understand how news audience members’ everyday experiences relate to hyperlocal news. 

The authors conducted a focus group study (N=38) of six focus groups in Rivertown, Sweden. The focus group members were given colored pens to mark down significant events and when and what type of news they came across. 

No explicit guidance on what should count as a news story was given: the idea was that they were to themselves define what counts as a news source. After the individual part, the participants discussed their day in the focus group.

Events, places and virtual spaces for news

The participants tended not to consider information they came across during their daily routines, such as hearing about happenings in the neighborhood as news. In two of the focus groups, annual community events were important events for local information sharing. In some groups, certain places achieved prominence as sources of news sharing – they were places where people gathered to discuss events. They were categorized as third places.

No general conclusions could be made of virtual spaces as third places. Crime watch groups functioned as something termed, as per Lefebvre, as hyperlocal dressage: community members learned about what is acceptable and about the Other.

Lefebvre and Oldenburg still  relevant

The authors conclude that the notions of daily rhythms, dressage and the third place continue to have relevance, despite some of the criticism that these concepts have received. 

In Rivertown, there was a concern of disappearance of third places as information hubs, in some neighborhoods, notably in Wolf Village, third places played a significant role.

It should be noted that in the study, there was deliberately no distinction between information and news, as the study was focused on hyperlocal news rather than legacy media.

The article “The Media Day, Revisited: Rhythm, Place and Hyperlocal Information Environments” by Henrik Örnebring and Erika Hellekant Rowe is in Digital Journalism. (Open access).

Picture: Grocery shopping by Marie-Michèle Bouchard.

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