Topical Seminar on Public Spheres


скриншот 2.jpgскриншот 1.jpgDr. Katja Lehtisaari elaborated on the topic of local public spheres in the Global North. The scholar delved into the concept of public sphere, and argued for the need to study local journalism and local public sphere. This area appears to be under-researched, however, the role of local news is increasingly important. The researcher went on to focus on hyperlocal media that are representing an intertwining practice located between professional media and personal blogging on social media.

While discussing hyperlocal public spheres, Dr. Lehtisaari presented the results of two researches. The first one conducted jointly with her Finnish colleagues Jaana Hujanen, Carl-Gustav Linden & Mikko Gronlund studies hyperlocal initiatives as part of evolving local media ecosystems in Finland. The second study was developed by Dr. Lehtisaari together with her international colleagues Lottie Jangdal, Olga Dovbysh, and Jaana Hujanen. It examines how the aims, perceptions and practices of hyperlocal media vary in three countries of the Global North—Sweden, Finland and Russia. Scholars identified certain similarities – for instance, there are three civic roles of hyperlocal media for all three countries: information provider, community builder, and civic mediator. At the same time, the perceptions of civic roles vary according to the countries’ changing media spheres and different political regimes.

The researcher outlined the next step in research marked by a new project aimed at studying local information sources for Covid-19 pandemic in Finland. The scholars working on the project explore the role of different information providers in the local media eco-system. Dr. Anastasia Grusha considered the issue in the Russian context with regard to the pandemic-related topics. The scholar examined different phases of communication on Covid-19 in Russia, and focused on the level of institutional trust and how it affects the gravity of the pandemic situation.

Dr. Grusha looked into how communication on Covid was maintained in the public spheres. She mentioned that communication on Covid-19 is multiplied on social media, which pay twice as much attention as traditional media to this topic. The researcher went on to identify the obstacles to effective communication on Covid-19. These include the general low level of trust in the authorities, especially among young people; irrational health behaviour; political polarization of social groups and its impact on their media consumption and attitude to the pandemic.

Topical seminar is a project launched by the Faculty of Journalism in the spring semester of 2021, which has already garnered attention of Russian and international researchers in media, communications and journalism. The idea behind is to organize a platform for sharing valuable insights and results of the latest research in this sphere of studies. The event is of utmost importance both for the integration of national research studies into international academic environment, and for the conceptualization of distinctive features of Russian media studies. Topical seminars are held online on the first Tuesday of every month and are available for any listener registered in advance.