The importance of local news is gaining traction with industry and in journalism scholarship. But there is a need for careful analysis of what it means to be “local” and how we might theorise the role and place of news organisations and journalists who serve local audiences. This paper draws on three qualitative case studies of local newspapers serving small towns and cities in Australia to generate concepts that can be used to deepen understanding about this form of news. Our research highlights that to be local is practical and embodied. It requires individuals, groups, organisations or institution to be anchored in a particular locale and have in-depth understanding of that place that has developed over time. We extend the scholarship of Pierre Bourdieu to suggest this may be understood as local habitus—a powerful set of dispositions and practical logic developed within a place—that the small newspaper is inherently tied to. Reading a newspaper is part of one’s local habitus while an individual who possesses it in the journalistic field may have a significant advantage in their day-to-day practices. We suggest this theoretical lens can offer rich insights into the future of local news production across the western world.