Sparking an Interest in Local Water Issues: Social Media as an Enabler for (Hyper)local Community Engagement in Environmental Issues and the Role of Solution Journalism

Franzisca Weder*

*Corresponding author for this work

Publication: Chapter in book/Conference proceedingChapter in edited volume


In this chapter, the role of social media as an enabler for local community engagement regarding environmental issues is explored. The results of ten case studies dealing with national and local water management and local communities’ response to imminent water scarcity are presented. Water supply and river basin management plans, in general, are highly complex issues. Here, local newspapers and their social media engagement are assumed to offer new ways to reduce environmental issues’ complexity, placing them in a (hyper)local context to create a digital communication space to foster community engagement. Eighty-one narrative interviews around various bodies of water in Europe, Australia, South Africa and the US were conducted. These interviews illuminate how communities experience water scarcity, and how a local communication space is created and maintained. Findings reinforce dependence on the self-perception and reflexivity of the local journalists alongside their willingness to use social media and their role in the local digital communication space. The chapter concludes with a call for a reconceptualization of local environmental journalism as solution journalism, capable of supporting communities tackling environmental issues and conflict.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Transformations in Media and Communication Research
EditorsJoana Diaz-Pont, Pieter Maeseele, Annika Egan Sjölander, Maitreyee Mishra, Kerrie Foxwell-Norton
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-37330-6
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-37329-0
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

SeriesGlobal Transformations in Media and Communication Research

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).


  • Community engagement
  • Constructive journalism
  • Hyperlocal journalism
  • Social media
  • Solution journalism
  • Sustainability
  • Water management

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