Nurturing authority: reassessing the social role of local television news

Tanya Muscat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


When considering the role of local journalism in a networked media environment, it is crucial to examine how audiences attribute news with the power to define social knowledge. In particular, television news programs need to appeal to audiences by reinforcing a sense of local journalistic authority to assert the parameters of who and what is worthy of coverage. This article presents the findings from interviews with a range of commercial television news viewers in Sydney, Australia. It positions viewership in the context of people’s wider engagement with news, and in relation to their interpersonal and digital social interactions. The paper argues that local audiences have conflicting attitudes to the role of television news, both contesting and re-inscribing the programs with the power to demarcate social, political, and cultural knowledge. It traces how local audiences challenge the ability of news to convey boundaries within the community through processes of exclusion, connecting the contestations to the lived experiences of the individuals. It identifies that television news programs nurture journalistic authority in terms of their local relevance, and it contributes insights on the significance of local news by engaging with the means by which audiences themselves attach social power to journalism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-235
Number of pages16
JournalJournalism Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • audience studies
  • civic culture
  • journalism
  • local news
  • news use
  • social capital
  • social exclusion
  • television news


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