Jerome Turner lives in Wednesfield, regularly comments on our pages, and has even written a couple of blog posts for us.
What you might not also know is that he’s a researcher at Birmingham City University, and this year he started studying for his own PhD. His work explores community media audiences, and namely something called “hyperlocal”, which is essentially what we do through our site and social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. Hyperlocal has been defined as:
“Online news or content services pertaining to a town, village, single postcode or other small, geographically defined community.”
‘Here and Now: UK hyperlocal media today’ report.
This year, and through to late 2014, Jerome will be doing an ethnographic study of WV11 audiences.
Ethnography is a way of researching a group of people by way of their culture, communication, and relationships, or as Wikipedia puts it:
“Ethnography is a means to represent […] the culture of a group. It observes the world […] and records all observed behavior and describes all symbol-meaning relations using concepts that avoid casual explanations.”
As Jerome has been living in WV11 for two years now, and is already involved in the site as an audience member, it made sense for him to base his research with us.
Participant observation is an ongoing part of the process for Jerome. He will be observing what happens on our blog, but also on Facebook and Twitter, and other social media platforms. You won’t see anything different there as a reader, but he might occasionally throw in the odd question for people.
Jerome will also be attending WV11-based events (PACT meetings, for example) to try and meet members of our audience. In addition to this, he’ll be holding focus groups and interviews with people later in 2014.
Any quotes used in the research (for example, in the online observation period, or in interviews) will be anonymised. This could typically involve quoting someone but using a fake name, or paraphrasing what’s being said so it’s not directly quoted, with the emphasis on doing everything possible to ensure people aren’t identifiable. If you regularly take part in WV11 discussions and for any reason would like your name to appear against anything you say, please get in touch with Jerome and this can be discussed.
Findings will sometimes be written up in research conference presentations, published papers or blog posts. In the lead up to these being made public, Jerome will show draft versions of those documents to the WV11 audience, for feedback and comment. Final versions will also be shared.