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Stephen Coleman:

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The coming election needs to open up a debate about what kind of democracy we want. In the midst of an economic crisis that has left most local communities worse off, a war that continues to take the lives of young people from communities across the UK and a range of moral problems ranging from climate change to the mass migration of populations, there is a huge need for a richly democratic public sphere. But at the same time local media are in decline and there are diminishing opportunities to encounter information we weren't necessarily looking for, understanding the links between local experience and external forces, and being able to act upon rather than merely receive the news.  

The reinvigoration of local journalism calls for imaginative collaboration between journalists and citizens. We need local media to become facilitators of creative interaction between citizens and representative institutions. And, while opposing trends of media negativism, we need a democratic media that is disruptive to the political complacency that has resulted in widespread disenchantment in contemporary democracy. These normative requirements are not mere add-ons to a strategy for better local news. Without a clear idea of what we want from the news, how can we possibly evaluate what is produced or set standards for better local journalism?