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User-Generated Content in Dutch News Sites

After the very fruitful EDEM 2009 in Vienna I've once again entrusted my life to the dubious abilities of KLM to deliver me to the Future of Journalism conference in Cardiff, where the weather has turned out to be unseasonably warm as well - seems like it's following me! Unfortunately I missed the opening keynotes, so if there were any brilliant new insights into the future of journalism there, we'll have to wait until the recordings become available.

New Media as Digital 'Pavement Radio' Promoting Political Change in Zimbabwe

The final speaker at the Transforming Audiences conference is Dumisani Moyo, whose interest is in citizen journalism in the age of digital pavement radio in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe, of course, has experienced a series of crises in recent years, which can be traced back to the democratic deficits inherited from its colonial history.

The shrinkage of communicative space in Zimbabwe has been widely documented in recent years; this was driven by legislative and other means. How have ordinary Zimbabweans adjusted and reacted to this? Media remain seen as important elements in the country's political discourse, and were noted as such in the agreement that led to the establishment of the current unity government. There has also been a rise of various forms of citizen journalism, which supported the political shifts in recent years and continues to push for further change; even here, however, professional journalists have objected to the idea of citizen journalism and see the concept as undermining their own professional roles.

Digital News Usage Trends in Australia

The next speaker at Transforming Audiences is my QUT colleague Anna Daniel, who presents on Australian consumer trends in digital news. She also highlights the shift towards a participative Web and the confusion over the use of online news by Australian users, and points to the challenging position of news organisations in the face of declining advertising revenues in print and unclear revenue models for online news sources. The present resource was conducted in the context of a case study of the online-only newspaper Brisbane Times and the online-only entertainment site The Vine.

Critiques of News Media by Replay-Relay Audiences

The next speaker at Transforming Audiences is Christian Christensen, who begins by highlighting the emergence of what he calls the 'replay-relay audience'. One example here is the discussion between Daily Show host Jon Stewart and MSNBC financial host Jim Cramer about the quality of MSNBC's financial coverage; another is Stephen Colbert's White House Correspondents' Association dinner speech in 2006, which tore into both the Bush administration and the mainstream media for their coverage of Bush's administration; yet another is Jon Stewart's 2004 appearance on CNN's Crossfire, which ultimately led to the demise of that show after Stewart fatally critiqued the show's format and its effect on journalism and public discourse in America.

Changing Patterns of News Media Use in Austria

The next session at Transforming Audiences starts with Birgit Stark, presenting a longitudinal study of Internet and traditional news media in Austria. This operates in the context of the question of whether online news is replacing ot complementing print newspapers and other news sources. Here, current research is not yet conclusive, Birgit says - the phenomenon of media substitution, if it does exist, is still in development, and while there are some indications that especially younger users are replacing older news media with online news, it is unclear how far this trend may go.

The Physical Experience of Magazines as Media Objects

The next speaker at Transforming Audiences is Brita Ytra-Arne, who compares the experience of reading print and online magazines (focussing here especially on womens' magazines in Sweden). Interestingly, Brita's research subjects, established readers of print magazines who nonetheless were also capable Internet users, strongly preferred using print magazines.

This was due only in small part to differences in content, however. A better explanation is provided by considerations of context: media use formed part of everyday life for these people, but the technological context of reading online magazines recalled a feeling of work rather than leisure, and such reading - even where laptops were available - was seen as uncomfortable and impractical. This may well be different for different groups of users, however, Brita stresses. Additionally, the content presentation of Web media was seen as inappropriate: clicking, scrolling, navigating was not seen as preferable to turning the pages of a magazine.

Transformed Audiences for Roberto Saviano's Book Gomorrah

The final speaker in this Transforming Audiences session is Floriana Bernardi; her focus is on the role of the audience for Roberto Saviano's book Gomorrah, a book on the mafia which was published in Italy 2006 and has been translated into some 40 languages (possibly the first such books to reach a large international audience). Gomorrah focusses on the banal everyday business of the mafia, rather than glorifying (or emotionally denouncing) the criminal life. It confronts the omertà - the resigned silence which prevents citizens from speaking out against the influence of the mafia on everyday Italian life.

Citizen Journalism and Everyday Life: A Case Study of Germany’s (Future of Journalism 2009)

Future of Journalism 2009

Citizen Journalism and Everyday Life: A Case Study of Germany's

Axel Bruns

  • 9-10 Sep. 2009 - Future of Journalism, Cardiff

Much recent research into citizen journalism has focussed on its role in political debate and deliberation, especially in the context of recent general elections in the United States and elsewhere. Such research examines important questions about citizen participation in democratic processes - however, it perhaps places undue focus on only one area of journalistic coverage, and presents a challenge which only a small number of citizen journalism projects can realistically hope to meet.

A greater opportunity for broad-based citizen involvement in journalistic activities may lie outside of politics, in the coverage of everyday community life. A leading exponent of this approach is the German-based citizen journalism Website, which provides a nationwide platform for participants to contribute reports about events in their community. myHeimat takes a hyperlocal approach but also allows for content aggregation on specific topics across multiple local communities; Hannover-based newspaper publishing house Madsack has recently acquired a stake in the project.

myHeimat has been particularly successful in a number of rural and regional areas where strong offline community ties already exist; in several of its most active regions, myHeimat and its commercial partners now also produce monthly print magazines republishing the best of the user-generated content by local contributors, which are distributed to households free of charge or included as inserts in local newspapers. Additionally, the myHeimat publishing platform has also been utilised as the basis for a new 'participatory newspaper' project, independently of the myHeimat Website: since mid-September 2008, the Gießener Zeitung has been published as both a twice-weekly newspaper and a continuously updated news site which draws on both staff and citizen journalist contributors.

Drawing on extensive interviews with myHeimat CEO Martin Huber and Madsack newspaper editors Peter Taubald and Clemens Wlokas during October 2008, this paper analyses the myHeimat project and examines its applicability beyond rural and regional areas in Germany; it investigates the question of what role citizen journalism may play beyond the political realm.

The YouTube Debate in the 2008 New Zealand Elections

The final speaker in this ANZCA 2009 session is Bronwyn Beatty, speaking about the YouTube election debate last year, hosted by New Zealand's One News. This follows similar events in other countries, chiefly the US - it is part of an ongoing YouTubeification of politics, some have said.

TVNZ had an agreement with political leaders in New Zealand for three debates between the two main candidates. For the final of these debates, it invited video questions from its audience, uploaded through YouTube. This was framed as participating in the democratic process, and closely followed the model established by CNN for its debates between the US presidential candidates - TVNZ selected 'the best' of the user submissions to show to the candidates.

The Importance of Trust for Public Broadcasters

We're now in the final session of ANZCA 2009, which starts with a paper by Mary Debrett. Her interest is in the politics of accountability and risk-taking at the ABC, and she begins with some reflections on the social value of trust - it serves as social glue, generates social capital, manages social complexity, acts as a solution for risk, and is a prerequisite for forming self-identity. Trust and authority are constantly being raised, invoking active trust in which trust is always contingent.

Trust is an especially important point of difference for public service broadcasters , of course - they need to be seen as independent from vested interests, as delivering fair and independent news, reflecting national culture and identity, serving diversity through representing minority voices, and adressing audences not served by commercial media. Public broadcasters position themselves as trusted brands in the media landscape.


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