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Gatewatching and Citizen Journalism

Twitter and the Media: Methods, ATNIX, Citizen Journalism, and the Olympics

Here are some more updates on my recent adventures in the world of Twitter research. First, I’m very happy to report that a new chapter on the impact of Twitter on the long-standing melée between industrial and citizen journalism has now been published. In the article, co-written with my CCI colleague Tim Highfield, we explore how the emergence of Twitter as a middle ground between the branded spaces of news Websites and citizen journalist blogs and other sites complicates the previously somewhat more obvious battle lines between the two sides – extending a process of, if not convergence then at least increasing interconnection, which has been evident for some time (except for the last remaining cold warriors of the blog wars).

The article has been published in Produsing Theory in a Digital World, edited by Rebecca Ann Lind – congratulations on what looks like a very interesting volume. (And on a personal note, it’s also very gratifying to see yet another colleague take up the produsage idea and do interesting things with it, of course.)

Axel Bruns and Tim Highfield. “Blogs, Twitter, and Breaking News: The Produsage of Citizen Journalism.” In Rebecca Ann Lind, ed., Produsing Theory in a Digital World: The Intersection of Audiences and Production. New York: Peter Lang, 2012.

New Publications on Blogs and Twitter

A couple more new publications before I head off overseas again (mainly for research workshops, but I’ll also take in the Digital Humanities conference in Hamburg and the Conference on Science and the Internet in Düsseldorf):

Tim Highfield and Axel Bruns. “Confrontation and Cooptation: A Brief History of Australian Political Blogs.Media International Australia 143 (2012): 89-98.

This article in a special issue of Media International Australia on the history of the Internet in Australia, edited by Gerard Goggin and Jock Given, reviews the development of the Australian political blogosphere, from the earlier ‘blog wars’ especially around the 2007 election to the increasing incorporation of leading blogs and bloggers into mainstream media stables.

Stephen Harrington, Tim Highfield and Axel Bruns. “More than a Backchannel: Twitter and Television.” In José Manuel Noguera, ed., Audience Interactivity and Participation. Brussels: COST Action Transforming Audiences, Transforming Societies, 2012. 13-17.

A very brief introduction to our current thinking on the role of Twitter in relation to television. We outline a number of dimensions to this relationship, and point to key areas for further research and development.

Wrapping Up the Year with Some More Publications, and New Projects

Time for a quick update again: I’m hardly even back from the SBPJor conference in Rio de Janeiro in November, but my keynote “Gatekeeping, Gatewatching, Real-Time Feedback: New Challenges for Journalism” from the conference has already been published in the Brazilian Journalism Research journal, alongside the other keynotes. I posted the slides and audio from the presentation last month – and a similar presentation in German, from my visit to Vienna in March, is also online here.

When I arrived back in my office from the Rio trip, I was also very pleased to see that the Digital Difference book, collecting papers from the 2007 Ideas, Cyberspace, Education 3 conference on the shores of Loch Lomond, had finally arrived. It’s been a long road, but congratulations to the editors, Ray Land and Siân Bayne, for sticking with the project. My article, “Beyond Difference: Reconfiguring Education for the User-Led Age”, applies produsage concepts to explore new approaches to education.

Three Challenges for Journalism in the Social Media Age

Rio de Janeiro.
My own keynote presentation started the second day of SBPJor. Powerpoint and audio are below; the full paper (which attacks the topic from a slightly different angle, but makes much the same points) is also online.

My sincere thanks to Carlos Franciscato and the SBPJor organisation for the invitation to speak at the conference; it’s been great to meet some of the many Brazilian journalism researchers whose work I’ve been aware of for some time now. I’m sorry that because of the language barrier I’ve not been able to participate more fully in the conference itself, but I hope my contribution has been useful – some good discussion in question time, certainly!

The Effect of Changes in Journalism on Democracy

Rio de Janeiro.
As part of my last overseas trip for this year, I’ve made it to Brazil for SBPJor, the conference of Brazilian journalism researchers – which opens with a keynote by John Pavlik. (My own plenary presentation follows tomorrow morning.) John’s focus is on the consequences of digital journalism for democracy: chief amongst these, disruption and innovation in the journalism industry; the emergence of a digital divide between those with and without access; the development of more robust interactive media; greater transparency in government; and increased civic participation.

Disruption and innovation is driven by greater access to high-speed wired and wireless Internet, as well as new (also mobile) technologies which enable us to connect to these networks. Additionally, the global economic downturn also presents great challenges for the media to reinvent themselves; this has been a problem for the mainstream media, but also provides opportunities for new media players to step into the breach.

A Call to Action on Social Media Archiving (and More)

Briefly back in Australia, yesterday I went down to Sydney to speak at the Australian Society of Archivists’ 2011 Symposium (staged at the fabulous Luna Park venue). My paper was meant as an urgent call to action on the question of archiving public activities in social media spaces – so much material which will be of immense value to future researchers is being lost every day if we don’t get our act together very soon; we can’t wait for the lumbering beast that is the U.S. Library of Congress to do the job for us, however fulsomely they’ve promised to archive the full public Twitter firehose. The truth is, here in Australia we already have the technologies for capturing and archiving large datasets of public communication on Twitter and elsewhere – but someone with the necessary public standing and archivist expertise (the National Library, the National Archives, …) must now take the initiative; the sooner, the better.

My paper (with audio) is below:

Twitter as a Tool for Pro-Am Journalistic Practices

Wow – we’ve already reached the final session on the final day of AoIR 2011; time has passed very quickly. I’m in a session on Twitter, and Gabriela Zago makes a start. Her focus is on the possibilities of Pro-Am news media work on Twitter, focussing especially on the newspapers The Guardian and El País.

New tools and Web services appear online all the time; these tools are appropriated in different ways by different social actors. One possibility is appropriation for news-related uses, pursuing Pro-Am collaboration opportunities. Such Pro-Am models combine professional journalists and amateur news users and produsers. Twitter is currently being appropriated in this way – this is a form of extending news media for multiplatform news delivery as well as for other purposes.

Citizen Journalism in Brazil

The next speaker at AoIR 2011 is Raquel Oliveira, whose focus is on citizen journalism. The very definition of that term remains disputed, of course, and discussions over what citizen journalists are able to contribute continue apace. Citizen journalism is a phenomenon rather than a fully defined concept. Individuals use journalistic – and especially online – tools to make contributions which are of journalist interest to other. A related question is whether the Net is able to advance democracy by making possible practices such as citizen journalism.

What such practices do is to change traditional news production models, shifting the balance of power further towards news users. Raquel’s work examines the use of two citizen journalism communities which do this – Viva Favela and Índios Online: the former of these was greated in July 2001 and focusses on issues of interest to poor communities; the latter started in 2004 as a project coordinated by an NGO, and is now run autonomously by native Indio communities.

Mapping Online Publics on Twitter (DIATA11)

Düsseldorf Workshop on Interdisciplinary Approaches to Twitter Analysis (DIATA2011)

Mapping Online Publics on Twitter

Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, and Stephen Harrington

  • 14 September 2011 – DIATA11 workshop, Düsseldorf


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