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Gatewatching and Citizen Journalism

Swedish Business Journalists' Attitudes towards Blogs

Cardiff.
The next speakers at Future of Journalism 2009 are Maria Grafström and Karolina Windell, whose interest is in business news and the portrayal of corporate images as influenced by the relationship between media and business, with bloggers throw in as another complication. This is connected also with research into the idea of corporate social responsibility (CSR), which has become better-known in recent years especially as a result of being promoted by the media.

The way the media have portrayed specific corporations is changing as a result; corporations are framed in different ways depending on whether a CSR perspective is included or not. To understand such different portrayal it is necessary to understand the production of business news, too, and to investigate the sources for different articles. Blogs now play a growing role in this context, and the study presented here especially examined articles about blogs in the business press (print, online, radio) as well as interviewing and surveying business journalists in Sweden.

Citizen Journalism in the 1984/5 British Miners' Strike

Cardiff.
The final speaker in this session at Future of Journalism 2009 is Tony Harcup, who shifts our focus back to the 1984/5 UK miners' strike and suggests that the reporting of this strike by alternative media may well provide a much better example of citizen journalism than what is described that way today.

The strike was about the destruction of an industry and of the communities which depended on it, and was reported in detail by alternative newspapers like the monthly Sheffield City Issues. Coverage here was less frontline reporting from the scenes of conflict than reports on solidarity efforts in the city (fundraising events, police watchdog efforts, etc.), and the newspaper sided quite clearly with the miners; it provided an alternative public sphere and acted as a community noticeboard for the strikers and their supporters.

Hyperlocal Community News: A Case Study of myHeimat

Cardiff.
If it's Thursday, this must be Cardiff, and my third conference paper for this brief European tour; I'm here at Future of Journalism 2009 with a presentation drawing on the interviews with the myHeimat crew which I conducted in October 2008. As always, the Powerpoint is below, and I'll add the audio as soon as I can I've now added the audio, too; the full paper is also online already.

Successes and Failures of Citizen Journalism in China

Cardiff.
The second session on the second day here at Future of Journalism 2009 is the one I'm in as well - but we start with Xin Xin, whose focus is on grassroots journalism in China in the context of the country's social and technological changes. This ties into the long-standing debate on the relationship between journalism and democracy, framed traditionally mainly around established democracies - so what's the story in a rapidly transforming society like China?

Xin suggests that the progressive role of Web 2.0 technologies and citizen journalism in the authoritarian society of China should not be overstated; rather, there is the need for a realistic assessment of citizen journalism in the wider journalistic context of the country. Current issues facing China are a growing gap between rich and poor, and attendant social injustices and conflicts; these divides are opening up in the context of technological changes which have led to China now fielding the largest - and on average, youngest - online population in the world (which remains somewhat disconnected from outside sources and critical voices due to the 'great firewall of China', though), and of a tightly controlled news media environment which is also increasingly marketised.

WikiLeaks and Its Relationship to Journalism

Cardiff.
The final speaker in this session at Future of Journalism 2009 is Lisa Lynch, whose focus is on the WikiLeaks whistleblowing site. The site exists in the context of investigative journalism and the global transparency movement, and what is particularly interesting here is how professional journalists relate to it; this can also be studied by examining the composition of the follower community for the WikiLeaks Twitter feed (which contains a very wide range of groups from anarchists and activists through to Sarah Palin fans and white supremacists).

New Journalism in Second Life

Cardiff.
It's second and last day of Future of Journalism 2009 - and after Transforming Audiences in London and e-Democracy in Vienna, the last day in a long week of conferencing for me. Of the three, FoJ is the most multi-tracked conference, so I'll be able to see only a fraction of all papers here - but many of them will be available online as well. We start this morning with a paper on journalism in Second Life, presented by Bonnie Brennen. She begins by noting the current concerns about the future of journalism and views that facts and truth are losing their importance in the postmodern world. Still, there is good journalism being done, if not always in conventional formats, and this journalism is helping people understand key issues in their lives.

Same Old, Same Old Challenges for the Journalism of the Future

Cardiff.
The next speaker at Future of Journalism 2009 is Milissa Deitz, presenting a paper on behalf of Lynette Sheridan Burns. She notes the shift from journalism as transmission to journalism as communication, and the rise of various technologies which facilitate this. Much as TV and radio changed the newspaper landscape, so online technologies are changing the news landscape across all other media - and users divide into digital aliens, immigrants, and natives.

Audiences have become active, and no longer like to be told what to think, so they have turned to social media and are active content creators; they are multitaskers snacking on content. This undermines the information gatekeeping role of journalists, and creates problems for journalism's democratic role - and such concerns have been taken up by various journalism and journalism studies bodies, of course.

International Perspectives on the Political Economy of Participatory Journalism

Cardiff.
The second session at Future of Journalism 2009 starts with Marina Vujnovic, presenting on a ten-country study of political-economic factors in participatory journalism by interviewing journalists and editors. There are a number of questions here - the place of user-generated content in the wider information production processes, the role of citizens as informational labourers, the vanishing distinctions between information production and consumption, and between work and play, the emerging convergence culture, and the rise of communicative capitalism and the threats for more democratic forms of participation which follow from it.

Local Journalists' Attitudes towards User Contributions to the News

Cardiff.
The next speaker at Future of Journalism 2009 is Jane B. Singer, who presents a study of local journalists and their engagement with user-generated content. Such journalists are potentially a very different group, as they're already closely connected with the local community, but similar to other colleagues have to come to terms with changing news values, norms, roles, and processes. Like their colleagues elsewhere, they are concerned about how the rise of user-generated content is affecting the news.

No Revolution: User-Generated Content at the BBC

Cardiff.
The next speaker at Future of Journalism 2009 is Andy Williams, who shifts our attention to user-generated content at the BBC, with a study based on interviews with BBC staff conducted in 2007. Andy, too, notes the substantial shift in perceptions towards a more active role for audiences (journalism as less lecture and more conversation), but in practice, journalist/audience roles at the BBC seem to have ossified rather than opened up.

BBC news has wholeheartedly embraced audience content (footage and photos, eyewitness accounts, audience stories); beyond this, however, also lie other forms of user-generated content, including audience comments, collaborative content, networked journalism, and non-news content. To embrace such content, there is a need for a new institutional framework; BBC journalists are now trained in engaging with UGC, and the phrase 'have they got news for us' is emblematic for this.

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