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Instrumental and Normative Influences on Users' Media Repertoires

The next ECREA 2014 speaker is Dennis Reineck, whose interest is in distinguishing instrumental and normative approaches to news consumption. Tabloids are a great deal more popular than broadsheets in most countries, for example, but such actual media consumption is at odds with social norms, as people nonetheless agree with standard criteria for what constitutes quality journalism.

Tracking News Use in Flanders through a Unified Media ID

The next speaker at ECREA 2014 is Kristin van Damme, whose interest is in the news media repertoire used by audiences. Audience activities across multiple platforms are a challenge to news publishers, which in Flanders have begun to introduce a unified Media ID audience tracking system across multiple news sites; this covers the entire Flemish news ecosystem.

Beyond Clicks: Understanding News Browsing Patterns

Up next at ECREA 2014 is Tim Groot Komelink, who shifts our focus to the quantification of news usage practices through the news organisations' emerging online readership monitoring practices. This builds on services such a Google Analytics, and user monitoring of this kind has also led to the development of news content genres such as clickbait, and of 'news' operators specialising in such content.

Longitudinal Changes in News Consumption Patterns since 2004

The final session at ECREA 2014 today starts with Irene Costera Meijer, whose interest is in the changing patterns of news consumption – from consumption in fixed places and at fixed times through the customisation of news and the active contribution to the news to the foregrounding of the social experience of news. Research into these changes has largely been based on survey or diary research, or on Web metrics.

How may be able to further examine such changes over a longer period of time, though? The project engaged in a ten-year programme of multi-mode investigations that focussed on exploring actual news use practices rather than on encouraging respondents to offer their opinions only.

Twitter Rumours at the 'Pre-News' Phase

The final speaker in this ECREA 2014 session is Scott Eldridge, whose interest is in the role of rumour and gossip as 'pre-news'. Rumour is institutionally unfounded, and is not part of the discourse of journalistic products – but it is a kind of reality-testing especially when insufficient verified facts are available.

Rumour is the intervention of the unauthorised voice within the flow of information, then. It is a perishable commodity, and historically the development of formal news reporting is a process of sequestering rumour to a handful of defined categories (letters to the editor, comments, vox pops) that are clearly distinct from 'proper' news.

Celebrity Tweets as a Way of Managing News Coverage

The next presenter at ECREA 2014 is Marcel Broersma, who begins by flagging Robbie Williams's recent livetweeting of the birth of his child: such tweets were also used widely by the mainstream news media, of course. This demonstrates the emerging role of Twitter as a newsbeat for journalists, who now frequently quote from tweets in their articles.

This is especially prominent for celebrity tweets, and in a sense empowers these celebrities to manage their public personae without losing control of their privates lives. For journalists and news organisations this is interesting as celebrit sells papers, but it also changes the journalist/source relationship.

Social Media as Newsbeats in the Czech Republic

The next speakers at ECREA 2014 are Vadim Hladík and Vaclav Štetka, whose interest is in the intersections of social media and journalism in the Czech Republic. What has emerged is a hybrid media system, impacting on organisational setups and routines; on the use of social media as sources (with distinct patterns during breaking news and everyday routine, respectively); and on intermedia agenda-setting processes.

Twitter, for example, has become a kind of newsbeat for journalism: a rich and easy resource for news content, and a tool that allows sources to maintain better control of their messages, as tweets are usually quoted in full. But current research focusses mainly on Western contexts, and on Twitter; the present study therefore explores social media more broadly for the Czech context.

Twitter-Based Interactions between Norwegian Journalists and Politicians

The next ECREA 2014 speaker is my Norwegian project partner Eli Skogerbø, whose interest is in the connections between journalists and politicians on Twitter. How do journalists connect with politicians on Twitter; how do politicians respond to being approached on Twitter?

The project focussed especially on the timeframe around the 2013 Norwegian election. During this time, journalists' activities varied widely; one political journalist was very highly active (producing some 9,000 tweets over the course of one year), while the average level of Twitter activity across journalists was a great deal lower.

Glimpsing the Social Life of News

The next ECREA 2014 session begins with Henrik Bødker, whose interest is in the sharing of news via social media. This is a process of social filtering, which has been seen variously as a positive filtering for relevance or a negative creation of filter bubbles. At any rate, such filtering happens through news talk or informal commentary, and this sharing is an integral part of making meaning from the news as it has happened through other interpersonal communication modes for a long time.

Such practices are pointing out worthwhile stories to read, and in doing so already suggest frames through which the texts should be read; often. More explicit comments are being added as well. This is a hybrid process between the oral and the textual, then (an immediate (oral-style) response to things that takes place in textual form), both informal and formal, both immediate and stored, crossing through various social spheres, and both vernacular and integrated into the communication all landscape of journalism.

Reconsidering New Media's Capacity for Empowerment

The second ECREA 2014 plenary speaker this morning is Tristan Mattelart, whose interest is in the transnationalisation of the news. He begins by noting the ambivalent nature of the notion of empowerment, which has been used in the past by disenfranchised groups to raise the social conscience in order to gain more power; but more recently it has been adopted by neoliberal groups, for whom it now simply means increasing the productivity of marginalised people.

Such changes can be seen in the characterisation of Web 2.0, which has also been described – by authors like Howard Rheingold – as an empowering technology. But to find examples of such notions, we could go back further, to a time when international radio broadcasts – for example into Eastern bloc countries – were seen as empowering local populations; ideology was one of the main pillars of authoritarian regimes, but it rested on very unstable foundations. Dissidents sought to establish independent spaces that allowed them to live within the truth, and international radio broadcasts contributed to the development of such spaces; they were the means to construct such spaces and to disseminate dissident information.


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