Who Will Tell the Stories of Health Inequities? Platform Challenges (and Opportunities) in Local Civic Information Infrastructure

Ava Francesca Battocchio, Kjerstin Thorson, Dan Hiaeshutter-Rice, Marisa Smith, Yingying Chen, Stephanie Edgerly, Kelley Cotter, Hyesun Choung, Chuqing Dong, Moldir Moldagaliyeva, Christopher E. Etheridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The decline in the number and quality of local news media has led to digital platforms becoming more central in circulating local information, affecting what information and issues are accessible to community residents. We demonstrate this by focusing on health disparities related to COVID-19, examining how both news and non-news civic organizations in six Great Lakes communities addressed pandemic-related racial inequities. Our analysis of interviews and a corpus of Facebook posts suggest that (1) very little discussion of health disparities emerged on Facebook from organizations in these communities, and (2) the majority of this content was produced by local news outlets. This article offers a vision of what local content might look like in the absence of robust local news outlets and highlights potential consequences of local civic information infrastructure with digital platforms playing a central role.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-171
Number of pages28
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences

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