Lokalportal at the Campfire 2018: Is local journalism still important?

by Alexander Drößler | September 7th, 2018

For Lena and Alex from the Lokalportal team in Ostwestfalen, the new week began on Sunday. They visited the Campfire Festival in Düsseldorf, the “biggest German open-air festival for journalists and everyone who are interested in the digital future“. The three-day festival is aimed at people who are interested in building the digital future every year and brings media professionals and citizens together.

In the tent of the Institute for Journalism of the TU Dortmund they discussed with other journalists, festival visitors and the team of Prof. Wiebke Möhring about the state of local journalism in Germany. The group agreed: local information is highly relevant for everyday life. But not necessarily by reading a daily newspaper and in the form it is used to from many newspapers. Rather, personally relevant information should be offered at the right time and in the right form, not “old-fashioned stuff“. The medium of the newspaper was seen controversial: Older discussion participants appreciate it as a daily companion, younger ones prefer to watch on digital channels. But current digital alternatives are not always convincing.

The participants particularly criticized the quality of local reporting: There was a lack of diversity of topics, a critical view and an accurate research.

“Getting close, with bigger stories instead of many reports“, one participant answers the question of what he wants for local journalism. Also the step into the sublocal is desirable, as there are not regularly interesting news at the district level. The relationship between journalists and their audiences was also discussed. More eye level would be desirable: “The local journalist should see himself as part of the community, not as a higher authority.“ Communicating more directly with the local community and involving them more in journalism were the expressed wishes of the local journalists.

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