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Gatewatching and Citizen Journalism

Differences in Content between Legacy and Citizen Journalism Sites

The next speaker at ICA 2010 is Salim Al-Habash (?), presenting on behalf of the paper's actual authors. He begins by noting the large number of blogs now in existence; some 44% of online news users have their pages customised to include news sites; 75% of Americans get news via email and social network sites; 51% share their news in this way, and 52% get news from their followers on social network sites. We can also categorise types of blogging: founder/manager (single-authored blogs); hybrid sites (volunteers, part-timers, outside participation); and open sites (overseen by administrators).

Journalism and Inclusion in the Network Age

I'm afraid in the battle between lunch and the second plenary, lunch won out, so I'm skipping Ien Ang's keynote at ICA 2010, and jumping right to the first of the post-lunch sessions. I may miss some of those as well as I've got a few meetings in the afternoon, but we'll see how we go. We start the afternoon with a paper by Wiebke Loosen from the fabulous Hans-Bredow-Institut in Hamburg, whose interest is in the relationship between journalism and its audiences. One of the key issues here is the change in the sender/receiver relationship - always a complicated and paradoxical relationship (journalism provides a service and needs an audience, but that audience plays a subordinate role - journalists are often oriented more towards their colleagues than towards audiences).

The Drive towards Journalism 2.0

Hong Kong.
The final speaker in this session at The Internet Turning 40 is Alice Lee, who continues the focus on online news. She says that online news sites in a Web 2.0 operate like a digital marketplace where people get together and exchange news, and explores how Web 2.0 has affected these sites. The format of online media is particularly important, in other words - the breaking of previously existing boundaries which has occurred with Web 2.0 has upset the previous equilibrium and led to significant changes.

Political Blogs and Transparency

The second speaker in this EDEM 2010 session is Evgeniya Boklage, whose interest is in the impact of the political blogosphere on communicative transparency. Transparency is crucial for interpersonal communication; it is an existential prerequisite for deliberative processes, too. If we consider the public sphere as a communicative system, the key functions are transparency (input), validation (throughput), and orientation (output), and Evgeniya focusses on the first of these here.

Political Discourse from Truth to Truthiness

The final keynote of AoIR 2009 is by Megan Boler, editor of Digital Media and Democracy: Tactics in Hard Times. She begins by noting the shared sense of aporia at the conference. What do we do as we face the rapidly changing environments of social media - do we feel let down by the Internet, do we daily have to renegotiate the changing visage of the Internet? Megan is particularly interested in exploring this in the context of war, and especially the war on terror - so much especially of the material produced from critical perspectives is dismissed as noise here, so how do we make what we feel is important audible and visible? (To illustrate this, Megan shows a video compiling the repetitive use of certain keywords - September 11, Saddam Hussein, war on terror, terrorism - by US leaders.)

Blogging the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

Daisy Pignetti is the next speaker at AoIR 2009, and focusses on the post-Hurricane Katrina blogosphere. She calls this Disaster 2.0, with events such as the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York as Disaster 1.0 (a time when many users had substantial difficulty accessing the Internet, and had to employ smart, lateral strategies in order to work out what was going on). In the aftermath, citizens of the US came together online to share their stories and perceptions of the event, and this led to substantial change.

During Katrina, television coverage was substantially hindered by the catastrophe itself - journalists couldn't get to the scene of the event itself, due to the flooding, and at times said that they 'just didn't know' what was happening; the Net, by contrast, performed much better in covering the event and helping with emergency relief. For the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the paper's blog actually became the paper as the printed paper couldn't be delivered, of course; the site became an information centre for disaster relief, and many other such sites emerged as well. One site that was developed mapped the flooding depth onto Google Maps, in fact.

Bloggers as Opinion Leaders in the Transformation of Israeli Politics

Wow, it's the last day of AoIR 2009 already... This morning I'm in the session on blogospheres, which begins with Carmel Vaisman. Her interest is in how bloggers influence political contexts, beyond the conventional and somewhat clichéd framing of bloggers as citizen journalists or political activists - what she wants to do, then, is to track blogging practices in order to understand what political impact they may have. This is in the context of the Israeli blogosphere in this case (and Carmel is a political blogger herself in Israel, and in that role has been in contact with political organisations who are building connections to the political blogosphere).

Considering the 'Gated' in Gatekeeping Theory

The next speaker at AoIR 2009 is Karine Barzilai-Nahon, who shifts our interest to network gatekeeping theory. Online, users can become gatekeepers, and are no longer simply being gatekept for - so gatekeeping power has shifted to some extent; additionally, gatekeeping is no longer a solid state, but is becoming a much more dynamic phenomenon where we're sometimes gatekeeping ourselves, sometimes receiving the results of gatekeeping processes.

Gatekeeping theory was developed by Kurt Lewin in the 1940s, observing food habits in families (and seeing housewives as gatekeepers at that time); this was later applied in a major way to the editors in news publications, who control what information is selected for publication from all the daily events. Other applications are the management of technology (what new technologies reach a larger range of users) and information science (already starting to look at the role of communities as gatekeepers).

Israeli and Lebanese War Blogs during the 2006 Conflict

The next speakers in the blogging session at AoIR 2009 are Muhammad Abdul-Mageed and Priscilla Ringrose, whose focus is on war blogging. Such blogging addresses the exceptional communication demands during war situations, and war bloggers in warzones can meet these needs speedily and with authority. This also reflects a continuing shift in the media overall. The focus of this paper is on the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon, where western media profiled (English-language) Israeli and Lebanese blogs.

So, the bloggers here belonged to two oppossing, warring nations,and espoused different ideological positions; how were they chosen and what positions do they reflect? What demographics, structural features, thematic, regional, and political positioning do they exhibit? According to which parameters were they selected? The study analysed all posts from 40 blogs (20 Israeli, 20 Lebanese) during the 34-day war in June and August 2006, which were found using search engines, media outlets, and blogs. Blogs had to be based in Lebanon or Israel, had to have at least five posts during the 34 days, had to be in English, had to have at least one hit in the global media, and had to be single- or group-authored rather than blog fora.

Political Blogging in the 2008 US Elections

I've made it to the Association of Internet Researchers conference in windy Milwaukee, and promptly managed to seriously upset my stomach - so let's see how we go today. The first speaker in my first session at AoIR 2009 is Aaron S. Veenstra, whose focus is on political blogging during the 2008 US elections. He notes the emergence of what he calls 'new' new media - YouTube, Facebook, Twitter - and these have affected the way we think about political blogging, too.

Overall, too, blogging itself is increasingly difficult to define as technical definitions are dynamic and blogging genres are inconsistent at the top end and incredibly varied at the bottom end. The top tier of blogs may now be separating from the field, and liberal and conservative blogs (in the US) are growing apart; additionally, it is also important to distinguish between community and individual functions.


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