Widespread disruption has made tracking what is happening to local journalism in Canada a challenge. The Local News Map is a crowdsourced web-based mapping tool that invites the public to contribute information about local newsroom startups, closings, and service reductions/increases. As concerns mount about the future of local journalism, the map’s data are cited with increasing frequency and it has the potential to influence debate, policy, and other research. Taken at face value, the map is a straightforward tracking device. A critical assessment of the assumptions, decision-making, and biases underpinning the map, however, illustrates that nothing is ever quite that simple. Researchers have called for a more critical and reflective approach to the application of geographic information technologies to mapping. This article draws on theories of critical cartography to evaluate the Local News Map’s biases, limitations, and strengths with a view to enhancing its credibility as a research tool.
Keywords : local news, mapping, local journalism, participatory mapping, crowdsourcing, critical cartography