Papers and articles about this project

Project phases + output

Phase I of this five-phase project was a meta-review of the literature that created a typology by which to group ecosystem studies according to the guiding metaphor employed, the boundaries used, and the method. This analysis was then used to devise the ideal method for identifying and analyzing news ecosystems – one that could be both granular enough to reflect people’s lived experience of their local news, and scalable, to allow meaningful comparison. Read it here.

Phase II involved building a comprehensive list of local news providers serving New Jersey (including those based in NYC and Philly), collecting structural information about those outlets and about the municipalities they’re located in, and creating an online map to visualize this information.

Phase III is an analysis of the structural correlates of local news coverage for all 565 municipalities that make up New Jersey. This comparative analysis looks at the characteristics of municipalities that support robust local news and those that do not, providing scaled empirical data to address this urgent question. You can read the full paper here.

Phase IV is a content analysis of the output of the local news producers identified in phases II and III. With the help of Internet Archive, we have scraped two constructed weeks plus one monthly crawl’s worth of content (approx. 2.5TB) from the 600+ local news websites serving New Jersey. Corpus cleaning and text analysis are currently underway.

Articles about the project

“Q&A: Sarah Stonbely on remapping local news at the municipal level” February 16, 2021. By Sara Sheridan. Columbia Journalism Review.
“The topography of local news: A new map” April 29, 2020. By Sarah Stonbely and Jesse Holcomb. Columbia Journalism Review.
“Mapping the local news ecosystem – with scale but detail.” December 2018. By Sarah Stonbely. NiemanLab, Predictions for Journalism 2019.