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Digital Journalism 2013: Contents and Abstracts

Contents and Abstracts of October 2013

(Vol 1 - No 3)



#JOURNALISM - Reconfiguring journalism research about Twitter, one tweet at a time

Alfred Hermida

Scholarship about social media in general, and Twitter in particular, has increased dramatically in recent years as adoption by individuals and institutions has burgeoned; especially by journalists and media organisations. Much of the journalism research on Twitter has focused on the dynamics of professional news practices on the social media platform, with journalism considered as a cultural field of production. This paper considers Twitter as a networked communication space that results in a hybridity of old and new frames, values and approaches. It highlights research that points to the hybrid and innovative forms of news production on open, networked platforms, suggesting new paradigms of journalism at play that break with classic narrative structures and deviate from long-held and fiercely defended norms.

WIKILEAKS AFTER MEGALEAKS - The organization’s impact on journalism and journalism studies

Lisa Lynch

Though stories of WikiLeaks have largely vanished from the pages and screens of the world’s media, the legal, ethical and definitional quandaries raised by the site’s actions during 2010 and 2011 continue to shape popular and scholarly discussion of journalism. This article considers how WikiLeaks—and Cablegate in particular—has shifted the understanding and practice of journalism by synthesizing press discourse and scholarship on WikiLeaks. The author finds that WikiLeaks’ lasting impact on journalism has been on forcing the profession to confront its own definitional crisis; drawing awareness to persistent legal issues facing journalists in the digital age; and in revealing the complexity of global information flows.

AL JAZEERA ENGLISH ONLINE - Understanding Web metrics and news production when a quantified audience is not a commodified audience

Nikki Usher

Al Jazeera English is the Arab world’s largest purveyor of English language news to an international audience. This article provides an in-depth examination of how its website employs Web metrics for tracking and understanding audience behavior. The Al Jazeera Network remains sheltered from the general economic concerns around the news industry, providing a unique setting in which to understand how these tools influence newsroom production and knowledge creation. Through interviews and observations, findings reveal that the news organization’s institutional culture plays a tremendous role in shaping how journalists use and understand metrics. The findings are interpreted through an analysis of news norms studies of the social construction of technology.

AMATEUR SOURCES BREAKING THE NEWS, METASOURCES AUTHORIZING THE NEWS OF GADDAFI’S DEATH - New patterns of journalistic information gathering and dissemination in the digital age

Nete Nørgaard Kristensen & Mette Mortensen

This article takes its point of departure in the thesis that today’s global, digitalized and convergent media environment has promoted new patterns of information gathering and dissemination within journalism, and war journalism in particular, which involve changing forms and various degrees of interplay between elite and non-elite sources as well as media professionals and amateur sources. On account of their proximity to unfolding events, amateur sources often break the news by means of raw and fragmented bits of visual and verbal information. Elite sources rarely possess the same exclusive access to information from war zones, but are instead brought in to comment on, validate and grant legitimacy to amateur sources as a form of explicit source criticism that we would like to term metasourcing. This new pattern of information gathering and sourcing within war reporting manifests itself most clearly in cases of major international news events, which render visible the multitude of sources and the speed of information production and distribution. A recent example is the capture and subsequent death of Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011. Based on quantitative and qualitative analyses of the sources included by selected newspapers to report on this event, the current article investigates the following research questions: Which types of sources are brought into play in the news coverage of Gaddafi’s death, and which forms of interplay between sources in today’s globalized and convergent media landscape are indicated by this case?

THE SOCIAL JOURNALIST - Embracing the social media life or creating a new digital divide?

Ulrika Hedman & Monika Djerf-Pierre

The ongoing social media hype puts pressure on journalists to be active in social media 24/7. In this process professional values and journalistic norms are put to the test and not all journalists are equally keen to embrace the “social media life”. So far, few studies have examined the differences between categories of journalists when it comes to social media use. Based on a representative large-N survey of Swedish journalists conducted in 2011/2012, this paper examines journalists’ professional and personal use of social media. The study analyzes the level, purpose and evaluation of usage among different categories of journalists. The broad finding is that there are three main categories of users: “skeptical shunners”, “pragmatic conformists” and “enthusiastic activists”. Furthermore, there exists a professional digital divide between the “skeptical shunners” on one side and the “enthusiastic activists” on the other. The differences in social media use are mainly associated with journalists’ age and type of work but also with professional attitudes towards audience adaptation and branding.

ONLINE NEWS ABOUT ISRAEL AND PALESTINE - A cross-national comparison of prominence and trends

Elad Segev & Menahem Blondheim

This article measures the relative attention given to Israel and Palestine in 37 leading news sites in 10 languages over two years. Findings clearly show that the Palestinian entities and Israel are the world’s most prominent polities after the United States in top news stories of international online coverage. Most news attention is given by Middle Eastern news sites, and only then by European and American news sites. During periods that attention to Israel decreases, attention to China increases. After presenting these rather surprising findings, the study considers a number of directions for interpreting them..


Book Reviews

Rethinking Journalism: trust and participation in a transformed news landscape

Henrik Bødker

Notes on Contributors

Contents and Abstracts of June 2013

(Vol 1 - No 2)



Online News Consumption: A structural model linking preference, use, and paying intent

Hsiang Iris Chyi and Angela M. Lee

While media scholars tend to take “media use” as an indicator of popularity or diffusion, media use alone does not fully capture the complexity of online news consumption. For instance, given free online news offerings in most cases, consumers do not always use what they prefer, and most are not willing to pay for what they use. This study identifies from the literature three distinct factors -- preference, use, and paying intent -- as well as two key demographic variables -- age and gender -- each helps explain a specific facet of online news consumption. While previous research has uncovered a number of relationships among these factors, a holistic model that weaves different empirical findings together is lacking. To address the interplay among the key factors, this study presents two theoretical models via Structural Equation Modeling. The goal is to clarify the interrelationship among preference, use, and paying intent for online news, which help explain why most newspapers have difficulties monetizing online usage. Applying new conceptual and methodological approaches, this study synthesizes previous studies and advances research on the economics of online news consumption.

Innovation and the Future of Journalism

John Pavlik

Journalism and the media are in the midst of tumultuous change, driven at least in part by technological and economic uncertainty on a global scale.   The thesis of this paper is that the key to the viability of news media in the digital age, as demonstrated by both long- and short-term patterns, is innovation.  To insure long-term success, innovation in news media should be guided by four principles: intelligence or research, a commitment to freedom of speech, a dedication to the pursuit of truth and accuracy in reporting, and ethics.  Evidence is presented that early innovation by news media leaders that adhere to the principles outlined here are finding success in both building audience and generating digital revenue.

Reporters on Twitter: Product or service?

Claudette Artwick

This study examines newspaper reporters’ Twitter use within Kovach and Rosenstiel’s “next journalism” framework, which calls for a shift away from journalism as product toward more of a service for citizens.  Drawing from their “essential dimensions” for journalism, it analyzes more than 2,700 tweets from reporters at 51 U.S. newspapers. Findings show the reporters engaging in a journalism of service, while also adhering to conventions of product and “lecture by professional authorities.” Evidence for service includes live tweeting news events and retweeting citizen voices. Journalism as product is supported by a significant number of reporters’ links to their own newsroom content, and by their heavy reliance on official sources, despite the networked audience afforded by Twitter.

Balancing between Open and Closed: Co-creation in magazine journalism

Tanja Katarina Aitamurto

This study examines the impact of co-creation on magazine journalism by drawing on data from a structured, sequenced online co-creation process in an established consumer magazine. Co-creation is examined as a method for open journalism. Co-creation surprises and even shocks journalists, as they face the “real” reader, in intensive online reader engagement, instead of the imagined “ideal reader.” Journalists compromise quality, feature journalism to comply with readers’ wishes, thus breaking the reader contract and consistency in the magazine concept. Co-creation created a strong feeling of ownership over the magazine among readers; however, the end result was disappointment for both journalists and readers due to the failed content-integration process. Co-creation established a connection between the readers, which strengthened the magazines’ community-creator function. The findings indicate that co-creation is a more challenging method in journalism than crowdsourcing. This article contributes to the study of open journalism and the digital future of magazines.

Conversational Journalism in Practice: A case study of The Seattle Times’ 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner for breaking news reporting

Doreen Marchionni

This case study builds on recent experimental research that sought to measure journalism-as-a-conversation, or co-created news between citizens and journalists, by overlaying it on The Seattle Times’ 2010 Pulitzer-Prize-winning coverage of the slayings of four sheriff’s deputies. Pulitzer jurors singled out that coverage for its smart use of Web tools to enhance audience engagement and the paper’s overall online presence without sacrificing accuracy. Findings suggest the growing power of such tools in breaking news and beyond, but also the need for less common but perhaps more humanizing efforts, including short, personalized videos of journalists stepping from behind the veil of objectivity to discuss how they do what they do.

The Influence of Professional Variables on Journalists’ Uses and Views of Social Media: A comparative study of Finland, Germany, Sweden and the UK

Àgnes Gulyàs

This article explores the uses of social media by journalists and their views about these tools in four European countries. It examines how professional variables, namely media sector, length of professional career and size of organisation, influence use of and views about social media. The analysis is based on findings from a questionnaire survey of journalists in Finland, Germany, Sweden and the UK. It demonstrates that patterns of uses and opinions, while sharing some features, do vary across the four countries with UK journalists being the most avid users of social media and those with the most positive attitudes towards these tools. The findings also reveal that influences of the examined professional variables vary and they do not explain overall patterns in social media use and attitudes. Thus, these variables do affect practices in some contexts, but they do not provide an overall explanation of social media appropriation in professional practices. The article argues that journalists, similar to audiences, are increasingly fragmented and their professional practices are influenced by a myriad of different variables.


Book Reviews

Notes on Contributors

Contents and Abstracts of February 2013

(Vol 1 - No 1)



Bob Franklin


Mobile News: A review and model of journalism in an age of mobile media

Oscar Westlund

The technological convergence of mobile “phones” and multimedia has been taking place since the 1990s, but it was not until the commercial birth of touchscreen-enabled mobile devices, offered with flat-rate subscriptions for mobile internet, that widespread production and use of news-related content and services began to flourish. Accessing mobile news has gained traction in the everyday life of the public. In parallel, legacy news media have in recent years developed news provision, by repurposing or customising journalistic content published for mobile sites and/or applications. This article explores the production of mobile news, by discussing and synthesising the findings of the contemporary literature found in the nexus of journalism and mobile media. It posits a model of journalism focusing on the roles of humans and technology in activities characterised by customising or repurposing. The article also presents a research agenda focusing on the production of mobile news.

Twitter As A Reporting Tool For Breaking News: Journalists tweeting the 2011 UK riots

Farida Vis

This study focuses on journalists Paul Lewis (The Guardian) and Ravi Somaiya (The New York Times), the most frequently mentioned national and international journalists on Twitter during the 2011 UK summer riots. Both actively tweeted throughout the four-day riot period and this article highlights how they used Twitter as a reporting tool. It discusses a series of Twitter conventions in detail, including the use of links, the taking and sharing of images, the sharing of mainstream media content and the use of hashtags. The article offers an in-depth overview of methods for studying Twitter, reflecting critically on commonly used data collection strategies, offering possible alternatives as well as highlighting the possibilities for combining different methodological approaches. Finally, the article makes a series of suggestions for further research into the use of Twitter by professional journalists.

Breaking Boundaries: Recasting the “local” newspaper as “geo-social” news in a digital landscape

Kristy Hess

This paper reconceptualises the role of the small “local” newspaper in a new media environment and argues that definitions and concepts currently used to describe and define such publications are becoming increasingly problematic as newspapers shift into both print and online formats. The paper highlights the continued importance of geography for such newspapers at a time when there is wide academic debate on the relevance of territory and boundaries and the impact of time–space compression in a new media world. It argues, however, that a focus on a newspaper’s geographic connection must also acknowledge the increasing boundlessness and openness of the social space in which a newspaper operates. Ultimately this paper suggests the concept of “geo-social” news may be a more appropriate framework for scholars to consider such publications. I draw on the work of geography scholars, and discussions around “space” and “place” to construct the notion of “geo-social” news, highlighting some exemplars of small commercial newsroom practices in Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada and discussions with newspaper editors in Australia to demonstrate the relevance of the “geo-social” concept.

Social Moments In Solo Videojournalism: Conveying subjective social reality through editorial vision and video

David Hedley

Solo videojournalism has grown from a practice on the margins of journalism into the mainstream at many television broadcast and online newspaper companies. This qualitative study asks the question: How does a solo videojournalist use digital technology to create visual and social meaning? The study applies medium theory and social semiotics to analyze both the content and the form of one award-winning solo videojournalist production. The solo videojournalist, Dave Delozier, uses technology to serve his personal editorial vision as he depicts how war veterans at a funeral construct their social reality. Thus, the production functions as a social, as well as a visual, medium. The storytelling strategy reflects the photojournalistic conventions of realism and empathy, combined with a professional awareness of the communicative potential of the medium environment. I argue that this multimedia tool can bring a more experiential style of storytelling to journalism, at a time when media audiences expect emotional qualities and authenticity.

Live Blogging–Digital Journalism’s Pivotal Platform?: A case study of the production, consumption, and form of Live Blogs at

Neil Thurman & Anna Walters

This article describes and analyses the production, consumption, and form of Live Blogs at a popular UK newspaper website and contributes to related debates in journalism studies. Qualitative research interviews with journalists and editors, a reader survey, content analysis, and web metrics were used to obtain data about production practices, product outcomes, and the consumption stage of the product lifecycle. The study finds that Live Blogs are a popular daily component of the news site, used increasingly to cover serious breaking news. Although rarely authored exclusively on location, they may utilise more original sources than traditional online hard news formats. Their frequent updates mean factual verification is cursory, but compensatory factors, including their attribution practices, contribute to a positive evaluation of their objectivity by readers. Live Blogs—with their timeliness, navigational simplicity, and bite-sized content units—suit readers’ consumption of news in the workplace. Live Blogs may increase online news readers’ interest in public-affairs content, and their inclination to participate. This study contradicts some existing scholarship on sourcing practices, content preferences, and immediacy in online news, while supporting the observation that news is increasingly consumed at work. It makes the novel suggestions that Live Blogging is uniquely suited to readers’ at-work news consumption patterns and that the format provides journalists with a means to manage the competing demands of their elite and mass publics.

Research Methods In The Age Of Digital Journalism: Massive-scale automated analysis of news-content—topics, style and gender

Ilias Flaounas, Omar Ali, Thomas Lansdall-Welfare, Tijl De Bie, Nick Mosdell, Justin Lewis & Nello Cristianini

News content analysis is usually preceded by a labour-intensive coding phase, where experts extract key information from news items. The cost of this phase imposes limitations on the sample sizes that can be processed, and therefore to the kind of questions that can be addressed. In this paper we describe an approach that incorporates text-analysis technologies for the automation of some of these tasks, enabling us to analyse data sets that are many orders of magnitude larger than those normally used. The patterns detected by our method include: (1) similarities in writing style among several outlets, which reflect reader demographics; (2) gender imbalance in media content and its relation with topic; (3) the relationship between topic and popularity of articles.

Constructing Participatory Journalism As A Scholarly Object: A genealogical analysis

Merel Borger, Anita van Hoof, Irene Costera Meijer & José Sanders

In this article, we investigate the emergence of “participatory journalism” as a scholarly object in the field of journalism studies. By conducting a genealogical analysis of 119 articles on participatory journalism, published between 1995 and September 2011, we analyze the development of scholarly ways of writing and thinking about participatory journalism over the years. Our genealogy reveals how the field of journalism studies constructs participatory journalism along the lines of four normative dimensions: “enthusiasm about new democratic opportunities”, “disappointment with professional journalism’s obduracy”, “disappointment with economic motives to facilitate participatory journalism”, and “disappointment with news users' passivity”. We argue these dimensions are inextricably linked with what “counts” as journalism within journalism studies.

Normative Dilemmas And Issues For Zimbabwean Print Journalism In The “Information Society” Era

Hayes Mawindi Mabweazara

While new digital technologies offer mainstream journalism in Africa (and elsewhere) alternative opportunities to engage and deliver content to their audiences, few studies have explored their disruptive implications to the practice of the profession. This study thus confronts the normative dilemmas and challenges facing Zimbabwean print journalism in the era of the rapid proliferation and appropriation of new digital technologies. It specifically explores how the appropriation of the internet and the mobile phone by Zimbabwean print journalists has contributed to a transformation of the profession at a number of levels, including news sourcing routines, and the structuring of the working day. While broadly affirming findings from previous studies, the paper submits that the information society era has spawned a number of localised professional dilemmas that border around copyright infringements as well as concerns relating to the invasion of journalists’ personal space and privacy. It contends that despite the wide-ranging resources and technological possibilities emerging with new digital technologies in Zimbabwe, their appropriation in journalism (and in everyday life) presents several unsettling challenges and modifications to the profession.

Citizen Journalism Sites As Information Substitutes And Complements For United States Newspaper Coverage Of Local Governments

Frederick Fico, Stephen Lacy, Steven S. Wildman, Thomas Baldwin, Daniel Bergan & Paul Zube

A content analysis of 48 citizen journalism sites, 86 weekly newspapers and 138 daily newspapers indicates that citizen journalism sites differed enough in six local government content attributes to conclude that citizen journalism sites are, at best, imperfect information substitutes for most newspapers. However, the data also indicate that some large-city citizen journalism sites complement newspapers by increasing the number of news stories and the amount of opinion available about local government. The results also found differences between citizen news sites and citizen blog sites. Few citizen journalism sites outside of large metropolitan cities covered local government.


Book Reviews

Notes on Contributors