Invisible Locative Media: Key Considerations at the Nexus of Place and Digital Journalism

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Invisible Locative Media: Key Considerations at the Nexus of Place and Digital Journalism


  • Ivar John Erdal Faculty of Media and Journalism, Volda University College, Norway
  • Kjetil Vaage Øie Faculty of Media and Journalism, Volda University College, Norway
  • Brett Oppegaard School of Communications, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA
  • Oscar Westlund Department of Journalism and Media Studies, Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway / Faculty of Media and Journalism, Volda University College, Norway / Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, University of Gothenburg, Sweden


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Abstract:  Mobility and location-awareness are pervasive and foundational elements of contemporary communication systems, and a descriptive term to synthesize them, “locative media”, has gained widespread use throughout mobile media and communication research. That label of “locative media”, though, usually gets defined ad hoc and used in many different ways to express a variety of related ideas. Locative features of digital media increasingly have changed from visible location-driven aspects of user interfaces, such as check-in features and location badges, toward more inconspicuous ways of relating to location through automated backend processes. In turn, locative features—whether in journalism or other formats and content types—are now increasingly algorithmic and hidden “under the hood”, so to speak. Part of the problem with existing classifications or typologies in this field is that they do not take into account this practical shift and the rapid development of locative media in many new directions, intertwining ubiquitous digital integration with heterogeneous content distinctions and divergences. Existing definitions and typologies tend to be based on dated practices of use and initial versions of applications that have changed significantly since inception. To illustrate, this article identifies three emerging areas within digital journalism and mobile media practice that call for further research into the locative dimensions of journalism: the situational turn in news consumption research, platform-specific vis-a-vis platform-agnostic mobile news production, and personalised news.

Keywords:  digital journalism; locative media; mobile journalism; mobile media; mobile news; mobile technology; place-based media

Published:   19 February 2019


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v7i1.1766


© Ivar John Erdal, Kjetil Vaage Øie, Brett Oppegaard, Oscar Westlund. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.