Hard data on traditional and online news media: Assessing consequences of the dual crisis in European minority language journalism

TitleHard data on traditional and online news media: Assessing consequences of the dual crisis in European minority language journalism
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Zabaleta, I., A. Gutierrez, C. Ferré Pavia, I. Fernandez, and N. Xamardo
Affiliation (1st Author)Journalism Dept, Basque Country University (Bilbao)
Section or WGInternational Communication Section
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodeINCT3a
Slot Code (Keyword)INCT3a
Time of Session14:00-15:30
Session TitleGlobal online media, crisis and activism
Submission ID6825

Topic This paper investigates the factual consequences of the economic and digital crises in the monolingual media and journalism systems of the three most developed minority languages of Europe in terms of media structure: Catalan, with 7.2 million Catalan speakers approx. (55.7% of the population); Galician, with 2.2 million (80.0%); and Basque, with 0.9 million (32.0%). The study will shed light about the effect of both crises on traditional and online media in minority languages. As for the former, the focus will be on the disappearance or transformation of traditional news organizations, since a number of them have closed down their activities, while others have shifted their news services from traditional to online platforms, among other options. As for the latter, there has been a flourishing of a new breed of online media (which we term cybermedia) with no relationship to traditional outlets. The paper will also compare the media reality of 2013, emerging from this study, to that of 2008, previously conducted and presented by this research team. Relevance This study is relevant and pertinent because it is based on hard data of the complete media systems of the three minority languages and not on samples; it looks in a comparative way into the structure, distribution and transformations of monolingual media outlets, both traditional and online; it puts its focus in the often marginalized field of minority language media; and besides, it departs from the standard pattern of mainstream scholarship (which usually frames research according to political space), and draws up the boundaries along the concept of linguistic community, regardless of the political or administrative division of the community. Its significance is also grounded on its originality, since there is no study or research on this topic in such a comparative and thorough way as this one. Research questions There are three basic research questions: 1) consequences of the economic crisis and the accelerated digital transformation on the traditional media structures of the three minority languages; 2) Degree of cybermedia development, understood as online sites unrelated to traditional news organizations; and 3) transformations between 2008, beginning of the economic crisis, and 2013. Theoretical framework This paper can be framed within the theory of media systems and markets, in regard to structure; and the theories of public interest and public sphere in regard to the role of the media in the community  (McQuail, 2000; Croteau and Hoynes, 2001; Gans, 1979). Method Several techniques have been used to carry out the research: extensive fieldwork in 2012 and 2013 in order to gather data following a precise questionnaire; and interviews, telephone and online communications with media managers. Quantitative data was supplemented with qualitative information about the transformation causes. All the media outlets of the three communities were listed and analyzed. Results The results about the current situation of the three media systems and the changes of the last five years, all based on hard data, will help scholars, public institutions and language supporting organizations to better know this field and establish supportive policies for minority language media, acceptable for the current economic and digital situation.

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