Networked neighborhood : hyperlocal media and community engagement in Columbia Heights, Washington, D.C.
Hadge, Kara A.
Thesis (M.A.)--Georgetown University, 2011.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. Are new media really detrimental to civic engagement? While many have argued that the Internet has led to a sense of detachment among local communities, this study contends that new media actually reinforce local community engagement. Specifically, this study analyzes hyperlocal media through a case study of the Columbia Heights neighborhood in Washington, D.C. Through the application of literature on the public sphere, civic engagement, uses and gratifications theory, communicative ecologies, and the knowledge city, this study embraces an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the effects of multiple new media technologies on community life. A content analysis of hyperlocal blogs, list-servs, Twitter, and Facebook groups found that hyperlocal media were more likely than mainstream media to provide information on neighborhood-specific politics, crime, events, and real estate, and also spurred more conversation. Survey results found a positive correlation between hyperlocal media use and community engagement. Those who contributed to or interacted with hyperlocal media were more likely to display offline community engagement than those who merely followed such media. However, a social network analysis of Twitter users found online engagement within that medium was less vibrant: The ties among Twitter users were predominantly following relationships and exhibited few instances of direct communication or interaction. Taken as individual sources, then, hyperlocal media do not provide all of a community's communication and information needs. Rather, each medium fulfills a specific role, and in the aggregate, these technologies do meet the needs of a niche audience. This project was originally presented as a website and is best viewed at https://commons.georgetown.edu/blogs/networkedneighborhood. HTML files of this website are included as supplementary material to this document.
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