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Gatewatching and Citizen Journalism

Some Thoughts about Internet Research and Networked Publics

Also in connection with the AoIR 2017 conference last week, I answered a few questions about the field of Internet research, and the conference, for the University of Tartu magazine. Here is what I had to say:

What are the major challenges in Internet research?

The central challenge is the object of research itself. The nature of the platforms, content, communities, and practices that constitute 'the' Internet is constantly and rapidly in flux – we are dealing with platforms like Snapchat that didn't exist ten years ago, and with practices like 'fake news' that were nowhere near as prominent even two years ago as they are now. This necessarily means that research methods, approaches, frameworks, and concepts must change with them, and that the toolkits we used to understand a particular phenomenon a few years ago may no longer produce meaningful results today. But at the same time we must beware a sense of ahistoricity: 'fake news', for example, does have precedents that reach back to way before the digital age, and we can certainly still learn a lot from the research that studied propaganda and misinformation in past decades and centuries.

Media Framing of WikiLeaks

The final speaker in this AoIR 2017 session is Catherine Maggs, whose focus is on WikiLeaks. When it first emerged to mainstream media attention, the site was a spectacle, collaborating with some mainstream media at first but also already receiving substantial criticism from many established media organisations for its conduct.

The Problem with Objectivity in Journalism

The final keynote speaker at Future of Journalism 2017 is Linda Steiner, who begins by introducing us to feminist standpoint epistemology: bodies of knowledge are socially situated and embodied, and this both limits and enables what one can know.

From this perspective, it is clear that there is a thin procedural view of objectivity at the basis of journalism – and this is a problem. This is simultaneously also a reason that Donald Trump and other critics of the mainstream media are able to attack the press as 'fake news' when it does not live up to a narrow standard of objectivity, and a reason that journalists themselves will choose to cover more straightforward stories rather than topics that would challenge their ability to remain objective.

Recognising the Continuum of Online Journalisms

The final speaker in this Future of Journalism 2017 session is Avshalom Ginosar, who suggests that we can no longer address online journalism as a unified social institution. We have moved here from an old institutionalism that addressed the formal, relatively stable structures of the journalistic field, to an old institutionalism that focusses on the formal as well as informal, complex and evolving processes of journalism.

2016 Publications Round-Up

We’re already deep into February 2017, but I thought I’d finally put together an overview of what I’ve been up to during the past year, at least as far as research outputs are concerned. It’s been a busy year by any measure, with a number of key projects coming to completion; research publications from some of these are still in production, but here’s what’s already come out.

Talking Gatewatching and Journalism at ECREA 2016

Taking a quick break from liveblogging the paper sessions I've seen, I was asked to do a quick interview for the ECREA 2016 YouTube channel – and it's online already. So, here's a quick chat about the future of journalism, and a preview of the themes of my upcoming sequel to the Gatewatching book:

Uncovering Early Twentieth-Century Citizen Journalism

The final speaker at ECREA 2016 for today is Bolette Blaagaard, who shifts our focus back to citizen journalism. This has largely been understood as a process of citizens distributing news and journalism, often in opposition to conventional professional journalism; but here the focus is more on citizens making (or citizen-making) journalism, with an emphasis on the creative and the embodied political.

Commenting Patterns at De Correspondent and Krautreporter

The final session at ECREA 2016 today begins with Lena Knaudt, whose focus is on the democratic potential of slow journalism. Examples for this kind of journalism are especially platforms like De Correspondent and Krautreporter.

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