Creating a critical civic consciousness : reporting local government in the nineteenth century provincial press

O'Reilly, CA ORCID: 2020, 'Creating a critical civic consciousness : reporting local government in the nineteenth century provincial press' , Media History, 26 (3) , pp. 249-262.

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Access Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Media History on 26th October 2018, available online:


This paper examines two themes in local government reporting in the nineteenth century – municipal governance and social reform and the reporting of municipal elections, electioneering and scandals. These themes formed part of the discourse of political reporting during this period, along with the detailed recording of town council meetings. The study concentrates on a representative sample of the provincial press in England from the Leeds Mercury to the Norfolk Chronicle. The article deliberately avoids an over-emphasis on the metropolitan press in an attempt to gauge the spread and influence of local government reporting outside of London. It also focuses on municipal political affairs and not on other forms of local government such as Poor Law Guardians, Improvement Commissioners and School Boards for the sake of clarity and unambiguity. Some writers have presented the provincial press as functioning as positive promoters of civic institutions and as underpinning the ‘municipal status quo’. This study challenges this view and offers an alternative perspective – the creation of a critical civic consciousness that directly addressed the reader as a member of a critical urban community.

Keywords: Civic consciousness; local government reporting; social reform; provincial press; public intelligence

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media > Arts, Media and Communication Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: Media History
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1368-8804
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Dr Carole O'Reilly
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2018 07:51
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 23:52

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