By Spencer Turcotte

April Lindgren and Asmaa Malik

RSJ Professors April Lindgren and Asmaa Malik (photo: Spencer Turcotte)

The School of Journalism is set to host a global conference on the decline of local news.

The Ryerson Journalism Research Centre (RJRC) is inviting academics and industry participants to examine disruptions in local journalism, new research developments and solutions to preserve the local news landscape.

Asmaa Malik, the RJRC’s associate director, says that local news outlets are closing across the globe.

“As a result, this has an impact on how informed people are about civic issues and how much information they have access to involving their communities,” said Malik.

Is no local news bad news? Local journalism and its future” will take place June 3 to 4, 2017 in downtown Toronto at Ryerson University, but its appeal and breadth are global.

“The idea is that all news is local. It just depends where you are,” Malik said.

The conference opens with two panels that are free of charge for registrants and members of the public. The first panel includes scholars from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom who will provide an international perspective on the latest in local news research.

The second will discuss the impact that local news has on communities and the consequences communities face when local news organizations disappear.

For the remainder of the conference, registrant-only events will cover topics such as the importance of source diversity, solutions for strengthening local news ecosystems, police reporting at the local level and how local news issues impact journalism education.

The conference comes at a time when there is a real divide between people who have access to local news and those who do not, according to Malik.

She says that a lot of local news is now being posted to social media and consumed through smartphones. This causes a real vulnerability issue for the people who do not have access to these resources as they become uninformed about what is happening in their community.

 Malik also says that larger media companies are buying out smaller news outlets and having them operate under a single parent company. In turn, what audiences get are very similar news stories that lack any diversity of voice, said Malik.  

“This is a time of big media concentration in Canada and it is something we should be really worried about.”

Click here to register and find out more about the conference.