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Industrial Journalism

Swedish Business Journalists' Attitudes towards Blogs

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

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

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

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

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).

Twitter Practices of Mainstream US News Outlets

We move on to the next speaker at Future of Journalism 2009, Marcus Messner, whose focus is also on Twitter (and in fact, he and Alfred independently named their papers the same...). The focus here is on the use of this tool by mainstream media in the United States, however; such media use Twitter as a research tool, but especially also as a news dissemination tool, particularly for breaking stories, and as a means for building community.

Twitter was founded in 2006, and had some 6 million users by early 2009, this has grown to 20-30 million by now. Some 11% of Americans use Twitter, and the audience is comparatively older than for other social media forms; some journalists use it very regularly now, and there is a whole show devoted to it on CNN. Again, the disputed Iran elections were a major tipping point for the service, of course.

Twitter as Ambient Journalism

Up next at Future of Journalism 2009 is Alfred Hermida, who presents the first of two papers on Twitter and journalism. Twitter has grown massively in recent times, of course, and has attracted a great deal of popular attention, not least in the context of the disputed Iran elections. It has been rapidly adopted in newsrooms for tracking and disseminating breaking news, and UK newspapers alone now have 131 Twitter accounts and 1.47 million followers between them; Sky News now has its own Twitter correspondent.

European Journalists Views on Their Profession

Finally for this session at Future of Journalism 2009 we move to Henrik Örnebring, presenting some preliminary findings on newswork across Europe that are coming out of a Swedish study. The countries targetted here were Sweden, the UK, Italy, Poland, and Estonia, as they are representative of a range of different media systems. The study conducted 61 semi-structured interviews with journalists involved in daily news production in various media, contexts, and institutional settings, and an email survey with some 2200 journalists across these six countries.

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

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.

Changes in News Report Formats in US Newspapers in Recent Years

The next speaker at Future of Journalism 2009 is Kevin Barnhurst, whose focus is on reporting form(at)s on US newspaper sites. News reports are expressive of historical processes, forms of production, and other factors, and historical changes in radio, TV, and print reports can readily be observed; this work can also be translated to the online environment, of course. US news has been redefined in the 20th century, from denotative (factual) reporting to interpretative and opinion-based analysis; this is an ideological process reflecting the way that power to control societal discussions has moved towards journalists in the 20th century.


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