Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Dealing With Covid-19 in Casual Democracies

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Abstract:  This article reports findings from an in-depth, autoethnographic study of local communities in Denmark and England left behind by local journalism. The study was conducted during—and is thematically framed by—the Covid-19 pandemic, and it investigates how news, information, and deliberation related to this crisis were facilitated in the communities. The article embarks from ideas of informed citizenship and problems of misinformation and free speech related to the pandemic, and it aims to uncover developments in local democracy in places left behind by local journalism and dominated by platforms. The article argues that “news desert” is not an accurate term describing such places. Instead, such places and their social media platform dependency constitute what is identified as “casual democracies.” In casual local democracies, who and what gets to dominate the local public spheres is difficult to predict, as are the credibility and trustworthiness of local news and information and the interests that local news and information providers serve. Such local democracies are, to a large degree, shaped by informal power structures, individual agency, and the infrastructure of platforms.

Keywords:  Covid-19; free speech; infodemic; local democracy; local journalism; misinformation; news deserts



© Steen Steensen. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.