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Industrial Journalism

Futures for Journalism

Cardiff.
If it’s Thursday, it must be Wales: I’ve made it to the Future of Journalism conference in Cardiff, which starts with a keynote by Emily Bell. She begins by noting that discussions about the future of journalism only started in the UK with the Murdoch papers’ move to Wapping, and it has been mainly about the role of technology in the transformation of journalism; before then, there was a strong commitment to continue doing journalism as it had always been done.

Today, journalism is becoming less defined by the business models that support it, and more by the activities which it consists of – types of journalistic activity are now scattered widely across many domains. Journalism is a craft, and arguing over who might or might not be a journalism today is futile. If Julian Assange or Rebekah Brooks say they’re journalists, or a random citizen taking first-hand footage does so, who is to say they aren’t? We may gather random forms of activity, and ask whether they are journalistic, but there’s little point in doing so any more.

What Drives Issue Spill-Overs from Online to Offline Media?

Reykjavík.
The next speaker at ECPR 2011 is Barbara Pfetsch, whose focus is on media agenda building in online and offline media. She suggests that research is needed to assess the impact of the Net on public debate: how could one go about this work? There have been hopes that the Net may lead to greater public participation and deliberation; also, however, what is the discursive opportunity structure which is provided by the Net? What is the potential for new civil society actors to enter the debate, and how may they be included in the process?

What theoretical and empirical approaches may be suited to researching these questions? First, there is an elite bias in traditional mass media; they tend to exclude ‘outside’, non-mainstream actors, and the hope is that the Net removes such biases. Second, media agenda building depends on local contexts: the political system, the media system, and the constellation of current conflicts in a country, for example. How does traditional media agenda setting change because of the Internet, as new challengers make their views heard?

Towards an Ontology of the New Hybrid Media System

Reykjavík.
The next paper at ECPR 2011 is by Andrew Chadwick, whose argument is that old and new media scholars often talk past one another, and that political communication scholarship as well as Internet studies need to draw on one another’s ideas more effectively. The interrelationship between old and new media, in particular, needs to be examined more closely. This requires system-level perspectives and a conceptual understanding of power which can be illustrated empirically.

So, we need a hybrid media system perspective, recognising the technologies, genres, norms, behaviours, and organisations of all its components. Power relations between them are based on adaptation and interdependence, and actors create, tap, or steer information flows in ways that suit them.

The Internet and Media Pluralism in Luso-Africa

Reykjavík.
From the very intensive ten-day workshop with our research partners in Münster which started this trip (more on this on the Mapping Online Publics site some time soon) I’ve made it to the ECPR conference in Reykjavík. There’s more parallel sessions here than could be comfortably wiped out by a single exploding whale, so my conference blogging from here will necessarily follow my own interests, more or less; don’t take it as an accurate representation of all that’s going on here.

I’m starting the day with a panel on comparing digital media and politics across regimes, which begins with a paper by Susana Salgado, whose interest is in the impact of digital media in African countries. What kind of democratic impact is there; is the Net promoting participation; is it repeating the history of other media? Susana’s focus is on Portuguese-speaking Luso-African nations (Angola, Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe, Cape Verde); these are very impoverished nations, and Internet penetration is generally very low (Cape Verde was up to nearly 30% Internet penetration in 2010, Mozambique is below 3%).

Gatekeeping, Gatewatching, Echtzeitfeedback: Neue Herausforderungen für den Journalismus (University of Vienna 2011)

Gatekeeping, Gatewatching, Echtzeitfeedback: Neue Herausforderungen für den Journalismus

Axel Bruns

  • 9 May 2011 – Guest lecture at the University of Vienna

Wie Blogger und andere unabhängige Kommentatoren im Netz den herkömmlichen Journalismus kritisieren, korrigieren, und anderweitig herausfordern, ist bereits seit Jahren bekannt, aber noch längst nicht von allen Journalisten verinnerlicht worden; noch immer flammen die Feindseligkeiten zwischen dem Medienestablishment und der neuen Generation von Webseiten gelegentlich wieder auf. Das alte Gatekeeping-Monopol der Massenmedien wird dabei durch die neue Praxis des Gatewatching infragegestellt: von einzelnen Bloggern und Communities von Kommentatoren, die zwar selbst nicht viel Neues berichten, dabei aber die Nachrichten und sonstige Informationen offizieller Quellen neu zusammenstellen und bewerten und so einen wichtigen Dienst leisten. Und dies geschieht nun auch noch immer schneller, geradezu in Echtzeit: über neueste soziale Netzwerke, die in Minutenschnelle Nachrichten weiterleiten, kommentieren, hinterfragen, oder widerlegen können, und über zusätzliche Plattformen, die schnelle und effektive Ad-Hoc-Zusammenarbeit möglich machen. Wenn hunderte Freiwilliger innerhalb weniger Tage einen deutschen Minister des schweren Plagiats überführen können, wenn die Welt von Erdbeben und Tsunamis zuerst per Twitter erfährt: wie kommt der Journalismus da noch mit?

Some More Presentations to Finish the Year

As 2010 draws to a close, its perhaps appropriate that my last couple of conference presentations for the year take a somewhat retrospective nature, summarising and reflecting on the 2010 Australian federal election, with a particular view on what we’ve learned about the state of Australian journalism in general and the role of Twitter in election coverage and debate in particular. I’ll present both those papers at different conferences in Sydney this Friday (26 November):

Slides for both those presentations are below, and I’ll try and add audio later both with audio.

Editorial Choices in Covering Climate Change on French Political Media and Blogs

Gothenburg.
And Mathieu Simonson is back for a second presentation in this AoIR 2010 session, examining how the editorial choices and sourcing practices of major French newspapers Le Monde and Le Figaro compare with those of participatory political blogging / citizen journalism platforms Agora Vox and Rue 89. The case study here is their coverage of the Copenhagen summit on climate change (COP15). This involved some 214 articles across the four platforms.

Traditional platforms focussed on negotiations (35%), education and sensibilisation (22%), and demonstrations, protests and militants (14%); participatory platforms similarly focussed on negotiations (30%), climate science (22%), and ideology (12%). Sources that were used by both sides included press agencies (almost exclusively on traditional platforms); officials and government sources, especially for traditional platforms; and mass media coverage, especially for the participatory media platforms – however, such citations were not always uncritical, of course.

Examining the Relationship between Political Bloggers and the Mainstream Media

Gothenburg.
The next speaker at AoIR 2010 is my brilliant PhD student Tim Highfield, whose interest is in what contribution blogging (by a wide variety of bloggers concerned with politics, the news, current events, and the reflection of such topics in specific fields of interest) makes to the overall mediasphere. Such bloggers may have a variety of points of focus, and while the ‘informing’ role of blogs has been stressed in the literature, this may not be their only function.

There is also an underlying question of how bloggers and journalists interrelate with one another – whether they are complementary to one another, whether the wider blogosphere provides a broader background discussion to mainstream media coverage, whether bloggers can act as gatewatchers highlighting and critiquing specific themes in the media. This positions bloggers as a second tier of the media, in the way that Herbert Gans foresaw such a second tier that feeds on and reanalyses first-tier media coverage. Against this stands the sort of rhetoric around blogs as a mere echo chamber which Andrew Keen has built his career around. There is some indication that blogs link to mainstream media content more than to other blogs – as a source of information, to critique the content, or to refer to specific sections on the mainstream media page (such as comments), too.

Why (Belgian) Journalists Blog

Gothenburg.
Oops, got into the next AoIR 2010 session a little late (why are the coffee breaks so short?), and Mathieu Simonson is already in full flight. This is a paper on motivations for blogging, which engaged in interviews with journalist-bloggers to examine why they were blogging.

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