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By Azeez Ishola Ramon


Community journalism is a subset of journalism that focuses on reporting on news and events that are pertinent to the people who live in a particular place. It is an essential component of the media landscape because it gives people a forum to express their views and draw attention to topics that are sometimes disregarded or underreported by more established news outlets. In addition, community journalism is essential for encouraging civic participation and engagement. By fostering a sense of pride and belonging, community journalism contributes to the development of strong communities by fostering greater social cohesiveness, enhanced community participation, and overall community wellbeing (Moro, 2023).

Community journalism is intimate, caring, and personal; it reflects the community and tells its stories; and it embraces a leadership role Wilson et al. (2008). Community media play a crucial role in providing the government with a means of promptly receiving citizen complaints and responding with communications solutions (Netshitenzhe, 1998).

The purpose of this study project is to particularly investigate how hyperlocal or community journalism contributes to community development. It explores how local communities could use community journalism to become more empowered, transform for the better, and promote social change, drawing on a wealth of literature and real-world examples.


Community journalism, also known as hyperlocal journalism, is generally understood to refer to news concerning a small geographic region, such as a town, village, suburb, or local community, according to Coverage of local sports, council meetings, schools, and “high street” news is frequently extremely restricted.

One crucial element of the media landscape that greatly contributes to the development of communities is community journalism. Numerous studies have examined the complex effects of community journalism on local communities over the years. This literature study provides an understanding of the critical role that community journalism plays in community development by synthesising key results and insights from numerous scholarly works.

According to Reader (2012) for a considerable amount of time, community journalism has been understood to be a particular way of obtaining, preparing, and disseminating news and information concerning local communities. Community journalism and small town newspapers were synonymous for a long while in the twentieth century. He however added that a growing body of research on the cultural functions of journalism in small towns has expanded the idea to include a wide range of media in a wide range of communities, including local independent radio stations, professional associations’ online-only newsletters, hyperlocal websites, special-interest magazines, and more.

The dedication of community journalism to local issues, grassroots reporting, and public interaction set it apart. Its guiding concepts, which include accountability, engagement, proximity, and relevance, are highlighted by Kovach and Rosenstiel (2001). Community journalists follow these guidelines in their quest to empower, involve, and inform their communities.

Community journalism is widely acknowledged for its significance in promoting community development, as it offers a forum for participation and dialogue for marginalised groups that are not represented in mainstream media. Community media, thus, is viewed by the World Bank, UNESCO, and the European Commission as an essential component of a dynamic and democratic media system Mojaye & Lamidi (2015).

Despite the positive role community journalism play in community development, it is however important to state that it has its limitations as describe by some scholars. Mosco (1998) argued that communities are created by acts of exclusion, with some people included and others excluded. While Tichenor et al. (1980) argued that community news outlets that support the community also support the community’s elite.

Community journalism offers numerous advantages, but the internet era has created new difficulties for the field. The proliferation of false information and fake news has become a major problem, making it harder for readers to believe what they read in the media. As a result, local journalists now face greater difficulties in developing their reputations and becoming reliable providers of news and information. The drive to create information fast and effectively is another issue affecting community journalism in the digital era. As social media and other digital platforms have grown in popularity, readers have learned to anticipate real-time updates and coverage of breaking news. Community journalists are under pressure to produce news content faster as a result of this.

Community media’s mission to help communities is not, however, undermined by issues with power dynamics and exclusion. Instead, the conceptual and practical definitions of community journalism should take these issues into consideration.


The process through which members of the community collaborate to address issues that are important to them is known as community development, according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies. You could or might not get help with this from a community development group or specialist. Community development aims to empower its people in order to create stronger, more cohesive communities. The principles of social justice, human rights, inclusivity, empowerment, and group action form the foundation of community development, a complete approach (Kenny & Connors, 2017).

Members of the community collaborate to address issues that are important to them through the process of community development. Community development seeks to empower its constituents in order to create stronger, more cohesive communities (Australian Institute of Family Studies).

Community development is an all-encompassing strategy and concerted effort aimed at improving the quality of life for the people living in a community. As the name suggests, it’s the combination of community and development with the aim of improving living circumstances in a community. In order for a community development project to be successful, people must think that cooperation can make a difference (

The institution, Future Generations University added that sustainable development, empowerment, inclusivity, social justice, human rights, participatory democracy, and equality are all incorporated into community development. These community-led initiatives, spearheaded by particular communities, seek to address the injustices and inequalities that the members of the community face. The community members get together and decide what needs to be done, starting with issue identification and continuing through execution and implementation.

To ensure justice and equality in society, these activities are necessary. The community’s other members’ lives can also be enhanced by these programmes. It’s crucial to keep in mind that, when it comes to community development, the word “community” might not always refer to a particular place. A community is defined as individuals who have similar identities, hobbies, ancestry, or cultural practices.

In order to enlighten locals about news and events that are pertinent to their particular community, community journalism is essential. It gives people a forum to express their worries, draws attention to neglected problems, and encourages civic involvement and participation Moro (2023). Researching community journalism’s involvement in community development is important for a number of reasons, including the fact that it examines the vital relationship that media, communities, and societal advancement have. The following are some major significant of researching this subject:

  • Developing Local Communities:

Local communities could be empowered by community journalism if it gives them a forum to express their issues, exchange knowledge, and take part in public conversation. It is essential to comprehend how this empowerment takes place in order to promote community development and engagement.

  • Improving Democratic Mechanisms:

Examining community journalism’s function advances our knowledge of how it affects local democratic processes. A robust democracy depends on informed decision-making and civic engagement, both of which can be sparked by community journalism.

  • Adding To The Body of Knowledge in Academics:

The scholarly understanding of the connection between media and community development is enhanced by research in this area. It adds to academic conversations, serves as a foundation for upcoming studies, and advances the development of a thorough corpus of knowledge in the fields of community studies and journalism.

  • Effect on the Local Economy:

A community’s economic health is directly related to its level of community development. The impact of community journalism on local economies, including how it promotes companies, draws in investments, and stimulates economic growth, can be studied through research in this area.

  • Resilience of the Community and Crisis Communication:

In times of disaster, community journalism is essential for communication. The role that community journalists play in strengthening community resilience through effective communication in times of emergency and crisis cannot be overemphasized.

  • Prioritising local issues:

This research work on the role of community journalism in community development can clarify the ways in which local issues are covered and prioritised by media organisations. This knowledge is essential for figuring out what influences community journalism’s ability to create agendas and how it affects community development.

  • Media Knowledge and Information Availability:

Examining community journalism’s function can give light on local initiatives to enhance media literacy. It also tackles information access issues, assisting us in comprehending how local media sources are accessed, interpreted, and used by communities.

  • Developing Social Capital

Community journalism contributes to the development of social capital by establishing connections between neighbours, encouraging a feeling of community, and advancing social cohesiveness. Strategies for community development can be informed by an understanding of the mechanisms through which journalism contributes to social capital.

  • Encouragement of Diversity and Inclusivity:

The variety of voices present in a community can be reflected through community journalism. In order to guarantee that a diverse range of viewpoints, including those of marginalised groups, are represented, a dissertation in this field can examine how community journalists negotiate issues of inclusion.

By acting as a link between local communities and the information they require, the role of community journalism in community development cannot be overemphasize. Beyond merely chronicling occurrences, its influence actively shapes the social, economic, and civic fabric of a society. Community journalism serves the following important functions in promoting community development:

  • Holding Local Authority Accountable: Local democracy greatly benefits from the presence of community journalism. It gives the community a voice and makes local government representatives responsible for their actions. Community journalists can offer information and viewpoints on local issues that larger news organisations might not be able to offer because they frequently have a thorough awareness of the community White & Marsh (2006).
  • Bringing Communities Together: Another reason why community journalism matters is that it fosters a feeling of belonging. It gives local events and organisations a stage on which to advertise and establish connections with the community. This may contribute to the community’s feeling of pride and belonging White & Marsh (2006). By showcasing common struggles, local successes, and shared experiences, community journalism fosters a sense of connectedness and communal identity. It encourages residents to feel united and like they belong.
  • Diverse Perspective on Local Issues: A more varied viewpoint on local issues can be obtained through community journalism. Big media outlets might not be interested in or have the means to cover local, smaller stories Wright & Nolan (2021).
  • Advocacy For Community Issues: Community journalists can provide voice to underrepresented groups and draw attention to topics that bigger news outlets would miss Wright & Nolan (2021). Local concerns that need attention are frequently championed by community journalists. As community advocates, they serve as watchdogs, ensuring that local institutions are held responsible and pushing for constructive change.
  • Encouraging Social Capital: Shared experiences and interactions among community members foster the development of social capital, which is typified by trust and collaboration. By creating connections and ties within the community, community journalism helps to create social capital.
  • Local Economic Development: Promotion of local companies, employment opportunities, and economic projects is one way that community journalism contributes to local economic development. It has the potential to draw investments and improve the community’s general economic situation.
  • Promoting Diversity and Inclusion: It is possible for a community’s varied voices to be heard and represented through community journalism. As a result, the community will be more just and equitable. It can address concerns of inclusivity and promote diversity in its reporting.
  • Informing Local Residents: Community journalism informs the public about a variety of topics, from local policies to health and education. Members of the community can use this information to make more informed decisions and take an active role in determining the direction of their town.
  • Crisis and Emergency Communication: Community journalism plays an important role as a vital source of information during catastrophes or disasters. It offers resources, safety guidelines, and timely information, enhancing community resilience and capacity to deal with difficulties.
  • Bringing Generations Together: Community journalism serves to bridge the generational divide by disseminating information and stories that appeal to readers of all ages. A sense of shared community history and intergenerational continuity are fostered by it.

Despite the role of community journalism in community development, the ability of community journalism to effectively serve local communities is impacted by a number of problems. Depending on variables like finance, technology, and the changing media environment, these difficulties may differ. Community journalism frequently faces the following difficulties:

  • Funding: Funding is one of the main obstacles or challenges faced by community journalism. It’s common for small, independent news organisations to struggle to make ends meet financially. As a result, there may not be enough resources to cover every local story that needs to be reported or covered Wright & Nolan (2021). The financial sustainability of many community journalism organisations is a challenge. These channels struggle to make enough money to pay for operations because of the fall in traditional advertising revenue and competition from digital platforms.
  • Competition with Bigger Media Outlets: Competition from larger news organisations is another issue that local journalists must deal with. Bigger news outlets might be able to cover stories that local journalists can’t because they have greater resources. Because of this, it may be difficult for local journalists to draw in readers and compete for advertising revenue Xiaoming & Xiaoge (1997).
  • Credibility Issues: Credibility-related issues could potentially provide difficulties for local journalists. They could not have the same level of credibility as traditional journalists because they are frequently not connected to bigger news outlets. It may be difficult as a result to draw readers and win the community’s trust Sdrolia & Zarotiadis (2019).


Zululand Observer is a community publication that covers the surrounding areas as well as Empangeni, Tugela River, and Pongola in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The journal, which Regina Anthony founded in 1969, aims to present news stories that are as factual and neutral as possible. Every journalist complies with the norms of conduct specified in the company’s commitments. The goal of the newspaper is to produce information surveys for the areas that fall under its service region. The surveys will mostly include general community news, business, government, sports, crime, cars, lifestyle, and health. The publication ensures that its readers are aware of all the significant events occurring worldwide on a daily basis. Even though its main concentration is on local news, the daily also covers national and international news. Zululand Observer has successfully spent nearly to R20 million on property, office equipment, printing presses, and furniture via diligence and exceptional service. The Zululand Observer takes great satisfaction in its ability to present accurate local, national, and worldwide news.

Zululand Observer prides its self a reliable source for fair, relevant, interesting and comprehensive reading on what’s happening in the region’s various communities (

Underrepresented groups are not adequately represented in South African media, either in terms of their own involvement or the coverage they receive Bosch et al. (2006). Despite the fact that South Africa is one the countries that has most vibrant and liberated media environment on the African continent (Netshitenzhe, 1998). Despite the extreme concentration of ownership in the print media, a few of independent and private print sources provide some diversity of opinion. In recent years, this privately held media—also referred to as the entrepreneurial press or community journalism—has thrived despite a dearth of any institutional or funding support. Community newspapers are becoming increasingly vital as watchdogs at the grassroots community level, where the majority of government spending occurs but where the country’s mainstream media neglects to report. Some of the most influential journalists in South Africa have emerged from these publications (Netshitenzhe, 1998).

 The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) however argued that the physical abuse of journalists has escalated, and SANEF has expressed alarm over the rise in violent assaults against journalists nationwide. A former mayor and his bodyguards attacked a reporter for the privately held daily Zululand Observer in February, while political party members and municipal police also assaulted a reporter from the private broadcaster eNCA (The South African National Editors’ Forum, 2023).


  1. How much can community journalism help local communities become more aware of one other and spread information, and how does this help communities grow?
  2. What part does community journalism play in boosting community involvement in local development initiatives and civic engagement?
  3. How does community journalism support inclusive community development by addressing the particular needs and issues of underrepresented or marginalised groups in a community?


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