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Journalism Practice 2012: Contents and Abstracts

Contents and Abstracts of October and December 2012

(Vol 6 - No 5 and No 6 - Double Edition)


Special issue: The Future of Journalism - Developments and Debates

The Future of Journalism: Developments and debates
Bob Franklin


Farewell to Journalism? Time for a rethinking

Robert W. McChesney

Aggregation, Content Farms and Huffinization: The rise of low-pay and no-pay journalism

Piet Bakker

The business model of gathering, producing and distributing news is changing rapidly. Producing content is not enough; moderation and curation by ‘news workers’ is at least as important. There is a growing pressure on news organizations to produce more inexpensive content for digital platforms, resulting in new models of low-cost or even free content production. Subscription, advertising revenues and non-profit funding are in many cases insufficient to sustain a mature news organization. Aggregation, either by humans or machines, is gaining importance. At ‘content farms’ freelancers, part-timers and amateurs produce articles that are expected to end up high in web searches. Apart from this low-pay model a no-pay model – The Huffington Post - emerged where bloggers write for no compensation at all. We analyse the background to all this, the consequences for journalists and journalism and the implications for online news organizations. We investigate aggregation services, content farms and no-pay or low-pay news websites.

Crowdfunding and Non-Profit Media: The emergence of new models for public interest journalism

Miguel Carvajal, José A. García-Avilés and José L. González

The media environment has changed dramatically in the last few years. Audience fragmentation and online advertising atomisation have transformed existing business models and put into question traditional media management practices. Now more than ever, policy makers and editors are concerned about the future of newspapers. In this changing scenario, there are new media models that attempt to promote and preserve public interest journalism. Among them, non-profit institutions and community-funded platforms are the most innovative and relevant alternatives. They promote audience involvement using what is known as crowdfunding, or they are funded by grants received from wealthy millionaires. For these new models, profit margins and income are unwelcome. Despite the fact that they could be regarded as non-business models, they are actually changing the paradigm of public interest journalism while providing fresh ideas for traditional media. The aim of this paper is to explain the nature of crowdfunding by describing the context in which it takes place and considering its impact on journalism. We have created a database to identify all the crowdfunding initiatives around the world. The results highlight the emergence of these platforms and other systems that make possible crowdfunded journalism and investigative reporting. Transparency, user involvement and control over where their money goes tend to be the success factors of these initiatives.

The Algorithms behind the Headlines: How machine-written news redefines the core skills of human journalists

Arjen van Dalen

With the introduction of machine-written news, the automation of journalism has entered a new phase. Algorithms can now automatically generate news stories on the basis of statistical information and a set of stock phrases, without interference from human journalists. This paper analyzes reactions to the launch of a network of machine-written sport websites to see how this new technology forces journalists to re-examine their own skills. In their response to these technological developments, journalists define their profession by the tasks that are fulfilled rather than the persons who possess the skills and knowledge to fulfil them. Responding to automated news content, journalists highlight analytical skills, personality, creativity and the ability to write linguistically complex sentences as important skills defining journalism, rather than factuality, objectivity, simplification and speed. Journalists see “robot journalism” as an opportunity to make journalism more human. When routine tasks can be automated, journalists will have more time for in-depth reporting. This view is discussed in the light of the commercialization of news and of previous studies on the impact of technological developments on journalistic labour.

Tweets and Truth: Journalism as a discipline of collaborative verification

Alfred Hermida

This paper examines how social media are influencing the core journalistic value of verification. Through the discipline of verification, the journalist establishes jurisdiction over the ability to objectively parse reality to claim a special kind of authority and status. Social media question the individualistic, top-down ideology of traditional journalism. The paper considers journalism practices as a set of literacies, drawing on the theoretical framework of new literacies to examine the shift from a focus on individual intelligence, where expertise and authority are located in individuals and institutions, to a focus on collective intelligence where expertise and authority are distributed and networked. It explores how news organizations are negotiating the tensions inherent in a transition to a digital, networked media environment, considering how journalism is evolving into a tentative and iterative process where contested accounts are examined and evaluated in public in real-time.

Sociability, Speed and Quality in the Changing News Environment

Angela Phillips

Speed and quality used to be considered the twin pillars of ‘good’ journalism.  Now there is a third pillar: sociability. It is no longer enough to be ‘first with the news’, nor is it sufficient to be comprehensive and trustworthy. It is now increasingly considered necessary to ensure that news is produced in a form that is capable of spreading virally. This paper considers the way in which ‘viral’ transmission is impacting on the work of news journalists and news organisations.

Twitter Links between politicians and journalists

Peter Verweij

This article analyses a Twitter network of 150 Dutch journalists and politicians in 2010 and shows that Twitter networks have an underlying structure that is more detailed than one would expect from a simple list of followers and following. In-Degree (followers) measures a users’ popularity as a news source and Out-Degree (following) measures openness and newsgathering by users and give insights into the structure of this underlying network. Also, the bridging function- being a hub or link- in this network can be clearly identified, and shows how important a person is as a networker. Ego-network analysis may specify these positions and reveal how a single user has links and bridges to central network positions. From the network connections on Twitter between politicians and journalists it cannot be concluded that there is a closed elite like a fully connected group of users controlling information. Journalists and politicians are mutually depended on each other and how this dependency is constructed is shown by various network centrality measures, specifying their role (source versus news gatherer) and position in the network (being a networker or not). Consociationalism used to be one of the main characteristics of the Dutch political and media structures. Twitter network analysis on a sub-group level shows that contacts on Twitter between reporters and politicians are no longer influenced by religious or ideological identity of parties and media.  Finding news and spreading news is the driving force in the Twitter network between politicians and journalists.

The Journalistic Hyperlink: Prescriptive discourses about linking in online news

Juliette De Maeyer

Hypertextuality has always been a fundamental characteristic of the web since its inception. It also impacts on journalism: the ability to link pages, sites and documents stands out as one of the features that essentially differentiates online news from other media. This paper investigates how prescriptive discourses about online journalism deal with hypertextuality. Focusing on hyperlinks as a concrete embodiment of the vague notion of hypertextuality, this project discusses how hyperlinks have been incorporated within the body of journalistic shared knowledge.
We draw on a qualitative content analysis of journalism textbooks, as well as interviews with journalism educators in French-speaking Belgium. Analysing them qualitatively, we discuss how different traditional journalistic values are invoked and articulated when it comes to give guidelines about the ideal use of hyperlinks. Results highlight inherent contradictions between the values that are summoned, but we argue that such inconsistencies are constructive and that they are crucial for journalistic collective identities.

Breaking News Online: How news stories are updated and maintained around-the-clock

Kostas Saltzis

This article examines the consequences of ‘around-the-clock’ news cycles online for the product of news. It argues that as a result of increased emphasis on continuous deadlines, the ‘news story’ is diversified into a fluid, always updated/corrected product challenging existing notions of news as a set piece of work. In this context, ‘time’ becomes an even more important factor for news production and blurs further pre-existing news formats. The ‘continuously updated news story’ can change many times during the day and challenges the idea of news as the finished product of journalistic work. This research studies six UK news websites and monitors how specific news stories are broken and updated during the course of a day. It specifically focuses on the frequency of updates, the amount and type of information added as well as their sources in order to investigate patterns of news updating in each organisation. The patterns of news updating that emerge suggest that we need to rethink the ‘news story’ as a fixed entity which has been associated with the distinct news cycles of traditional media. Although the daily cycles are not completely abolished, the news stories are rarely finalised.

Freelance Journalists as a Flexible Workforce in Media Industries

Maria Edstrom and Martina Ladendorf

Economic cutbacks in the media sector diminish the chances of employment for journalists, and consequently the number of atypical workers in the media industry, such as freelancers, is growing worldwide. This study of Swedish freelancers is grounded in both quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative data are taken from ongoing surveys conducted by researchers at the University of Gothenburg, based on representative samples of practising journalists made in 1989, 1994, 1999 and 2005. Around 2000 journalists were included in each survey. The qualitative material consists of 13 biographical interviews with freelancers in northern Sweden. The results will be compared with international studies. The choice to work as a freelance journalist is connected to lifestyle, and the idea of ‘life as a project’, as well as entrepreneurialism, in ways that are connected to the societal processes of individualization and flexibilization.

“We Used to be Queens and Now We Are Slaves”: Working conditions and career strategies in the journalistic field

Roman Hummel, Susanne Kirchhoff and Dimitri Prandner

Following Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of the social field (Bourdieu 1984; Benson/Neveu 2005) we examine how changes in the media have affected the career strategies, journalistic practice and role images of women and men working in Austrian news media. By employing Bourdieu’s theory, information on role models and self-perception gathered by surveys can be interpreted within their proper contexts and give insight to the structure and constitution of contemporary Austrian Journalism. Problems arising from the diversification of journalism and gender-related disparities in career opportunities become more accessible empirically. In addition, field theory sheds light on the ongoing changes of the field’s properties, such as developments in the actual routines of news gathering and production. Finally, by applying Bourdieu’s theory to journalism research one gains a deeper insight into the specific set of stakes that are shaping both the perception and practice within the journalistic field. In this context, we discuss the benefits and drawbacks in the profession as a part of the field’s “illusio”, which still holds a strong attraction for newcomers.

Russian and Swedish Journalists: Professional roles, ideals and daily reality

Gunnar Nygren and Elena Degtereva

A strive for autonomy is a key part of professional journalistic culture, although the degree of autonomy varies between countries and media systems. A survey distributed to 100 journalists in Sweden and Russia explores their views on journalistic autonomy: the professional duties of journalists, the degree of autonomy they enjoy in their day-to-day work, as well as journalists’ opinions about the development of press freedom. The findings reveal that journalists in both countries share many professional values but also feel pressures on their professional autonomy – in Sweden mostly a commercial pressure and in Russia predominantly a political pressure but also the commercial interests of owners and advertisers. There are also some clear differences. Independence in daily work is less for Russian journalists and the obstacles ahead of publishing more common – and they have a negative view on the development of press freedom.

The 4C’s of Mobile News: Channels, conversation, content and commerce

François Nel and Oscar Westlund

Newspapers are in flux. Having seen their traditional businesses battered by forces that include structural changes fuelled by the rapid growth of networked digital technologies and cyclical shifts in the economy, mainstream news publishers have intensified efforts to adapt their journalism processes and products. However, growing digital revenue streams to match, if not surpass, the losses in print circulation and advertising incomes has proved difficult. A bright – or at least not quite so dim – spot glows from mobile devices. Drawing on data from an annual audit conducted in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, this article examines how66 metropolitan newspapers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have performed with respect to channels, content, conversation and commerce (4C’s) of mobile news. While findings show the expansion of newspapers’ mobile endeavours, these are uneven and characterised by repurposing existing content and duplicating traditional commercial models.

The Re-birth of the 'Beat': A hyperlocal newsgathering model

Murray Dick

Scholars have long lamented the death of the 'beat' in news journalism. Today's journalists generate more copy than they used to, a deluge of PR releases often keeping them in the office, and away from their communities. Consolidation in industry has dislodged some journalists from their local sources. Yet hyperlocal online activity is thriving if journalists have the time and inclination to engage with it. This paper proposes an exploratory, normative schema intended to help local journalists systematically map and monitor their own hyperlocal online communities and contacts, with the aim of re-establishing local news beats online as networks. This model is, in part, technologically-independent. It encompasses proactive and reactive news-gathering and forward planning approaches. A schema is proposed, developed upon suggested news-gathering frameworks from the literature. These experiences were distilled into an iterative, replicable schema for local journalism. This model was then used to map out two real-world 'beats' for local news-gathering. Journalists working within these local beats were invited to trial the models created.   It is hoped that this research will empower journalists by improving their information auditing, and could help re-define journalists' relationship with their online audiences.

Foreign Reporting in the Sphere of Network Journalism

Ansgard Heinrich

This article explores the relationship between foreign reporting and information provision through social media channels. Drawing upon globalization debates and research on foreign news coverage, it discusses the emergence of a new kind of reporting from afar. Within a complex, global communication space, layers of information and interpretation frameworks for news stories are multifaceted. As we witness the evolution of a sphere of ‘network journalism’, journalists gather news while bloggers, Twitterers or Facebook users contribute to the information flow. Taken together, the material provided by traditional journalists and alternative information sources form a global news map. Case examples from the Arab Spring assist to demarcate some characteristics of this communication sphere and suggest that seizing interactive communication tools could assist to strengthen news coverage in favor of what Berglez refers to as a ‘global outlook’ on news.

The Newsroom of the Future: Newsroom convergence models in China

Shixin Ivy Zhang

This study uses four news organizations and their online services based in Beijing to identify newsroom convergence models in China. It finds that there is a gulf between central-level and local news sites’ convergence efforts. At the macro level are policy barriers such as TV licensing, licensing to distribute news on the Web and the issuance of press cards. At the meso level, the websites have five main revenue streams: state subsidy, advertising, wireless value-added services, sales of data and website construction. State subsidy is only available to key state news sites like Xinhuanet and Peoplesnet. These central-level sites can afford to experiment with multiplatform and multimedia services as well as original products and services. By contrast, local news sites struggle to stay in the market and their strategies focus on providing local news and information while forging strategic partnerships with big businesses to sustain their advertising platform.

The Convergence Process in Public Audiovisual Groups: The case of Basque public radio television (EITB)

Ainara Larrondo, José Larrañaga, Koldo Meso and Irati Agirreazkuenaga

The digitization and diversification prompted by the development of web divisions has situated media groups at a decisive point, requiring strategies of adaptation that necessarily involve multimedia convergence. This key term for understanding communication today alludes to a gradual process which has the integration of newsrooms as its goal and is making itself felt in different interrelated fields. In Europe, public audiovisual corporations such as the BBC (Great Britain), SVT (Sweden), NRK (Norway), DR (Denmark) or YLE (Finland) have provided some relevant cases of convergence to date. In Spain, such adaptation is still moderate and it is the regional media that are showing a particular predisposition to change. In this context, this essay analyses the experience of one of the pioneering public groups in the Spanish state, the public radio television of the Basque Autonomous Community, Euskal Irrati Telebista (EITB). In line with other studies with similar characteristics, it employs a mixed methodology incorporating quantitative and qualitative procedures. The results make it possible to argue that EITB is slowly advancing towards convergence, setting out from strategies typical of the initial phases of this process, such as grouping newsrooms together in the same physical space, cross-media promotion, taking advantage of synergies of multiplatform distribution or basic editorial coordination, which places this group midway between digitization and convergence.

Contents and Abstracts of August 2012

(Vol 6 - No 4)



News on New Devices: Is Multiplatform News Consumption a Reality?

H. Iris Chyi and Monica Chadha

News organizations worldwide now deliver content through multiple electronic devices such as computers, smartphones, e-readers, and tablets. While multiplatform news delivery is widely prevalent, is multi-platform news “consumption” a reality? This study examines the extent to which people own, use, and enjoy these electronic devices. Results of a national survey of U.S. Internet users suggested that despite the excitement about newer, more portable devices, not all devices are equally “newsful.” Most people use only one electronic device for news purposes on a weekly basis. We identified the predictors of device ownership and multi-platform news consumption and discussed the implications for multi-platform news publishing.

A Paleontology of Style: The evolution of the Middle East in the AP Stylebook, 1977- 2010

Fred Vultee

This article looks at the commonly understood rules and guidelines, which are set out and regularly modified in the Associated Press Stylebook, for how news about the Middle East “ought” to look and sound for US readers. By examining official news language longitudinally across a period from before the Iranian revolution to the second decade of the “war on terror,” it finds patterns that shed light not only on the normal evolution of news language but on the particularly Orientalized features of news about the Middle Eastern “other.” These findings are especially relevant in an era of shrinking newsroom resources in which centrally determined features of language are, increasingly, national decisions.

Elimination of Ideas and Professional Socialisation: Lessons learned at newsroom meetings

Gitte Gravengaard and Lene Rimestad

This article investigates and interprets social and cultural production and reproduction as we turn our attention to an important part of routinised practice in the newsroom: the early newsroom meetings. These meetings are essential sites for the building of the craft ethos and professional vision. Our aim is to study how this building of expertise takes place at meetings with a particular focus on the decision-making process concerning ideas for new news stories. In order to do this, we perform linguistic analysis of news production practices, as we investigate how the journalists’ ideas for potential news stories are eliminated by the editor at the daily newsroom meetings. The elimination of ideas for news stories are not just eliminations; they are also corrections of culturally undesirable behaviour producing and reproducing the proper perception of an important object of knowledge – what constitutes ‘a good news story’ – in this community of practice.

Promoting Aesthetic Tourism: Transgressions between generalist and specialist subfields in cultural journalism

Maarit Jaakkola

Cultural departments in newspapers are reported to be encountering increasing pressures towards the production of news and more ‘journalistic’ expression. However, journalistic values do not fit unproblematically into the dualistic professionalism of cultural journalism. The article elaborates an insight into the practice of arts journalism as an act of framing between the epistemic paradigms of
journalistic and aesthetic tradition. The traditions are inspected as Bourdieusian fields, and the boundary-crossing between the fields is clarified by close-reading texts with deviations from the typical framings, accompanied by social tensions and indignation among the actors of the artistic field. By investigating the reconciliation between the two epistemic frames of cultural journalism, the journalistic and the aesthetic paradigm, certain restrictions between the generalist and specialist roleshifts
can be found. This distinctive boundary between the fields leads into the question about how the ewsworthiness of culture could be defined without losing the sensitivity to the characteristics of arts and culture, operated by their own logic.

Envisioning Journalism Practice as Research

Sarah Niblock

As pressure grows on journalism academics to publish scholarly outputs and attract external research income, many express frustration over the uncertain status of journalism practice in relation to the requirement for making a contribution to knowledge. (Harcup, 2011) Simultaneously, work in education theory has highlighted contextual shifts in arts and humanities education that signify a pressing
need for journalism studies as well as other disciplines to define their position regarding practice within research. Recent reflections on practice and research within journalism education (Niblock, 2007) suggest the discipline is seeking forms of scholarship that cohere better with its industry-facing character. This paper seeks to originate both a methodological framework and an epistemological perspective that acknowledges practitioner perspectives as accumulated knowledge. Drawing on concepts of reflexivity and habitus, it will negotiate and evaluate a range of potential models of practice as research, and discuss their implications for furthering the profile of journalism scholarship.

Covering “Financial Terrorism”: The Greek debt crisis in U.S. news media

James Tracy

The 2010 Greek financial crisis marks an important chapter in an era where the underlying maneuvers of private financial entities figure centrally in the wherewithal of Western nation states. Utilizing framing research, this study examines representation of the Greek crisis by US news media from December 2009 to July 2010. In contrast to the incident’s coverage in the European and business press initially attributing the crisis to speculation and the manipulation of Greek debt, major US news media presented the event through specific event-driven frames that obscured knowledge of deeper causes. By drawing attention to dramatic events in Athens and the American stock markets, US outlets presented the financial crisis in narrow terms that blamed the event on alleged character flaws and ineptitudes of a nation and its people. This reportage legitimized proposals of economic austerity
as reparation. In the midst of excessive business and financial-related information, the ability of US journalism to explain how and for whom transnational economic processes proceed remains provisional. Journalism prompting public discourse on such dynamics is crucial at present as the formulas hastening the Greek crisis now threaten industrialized countries throughout the West.

News Accuracy in Switzerland and Italy: A transatlantic comparison with the U.S. press

Colin Porlezza, Stephan Russ-Mohl and Scott Maier

Nearly 80 years of accuracy research in the United States has documented that the press frequently errs, but empirical study about news accuracy elsewhere in the world is absent. This article presents an accuracy audit of Swiss and Italian daily regional newspapers. Replicating U.S. research, the study offers a trans-Atlantic perspective of news accuracy. To compare newspaper accuracy in Switzerland and
Italy to longitudinal accuracy research in the United States, the study followed closely the methodology pioneered by Charnley (1936) and adapted by Maier (2005). News sources found factual inaccuracy in 60 percent of Swiss newspaper stories they reviewed, compared to 48 percent of U.S. and 52 percent of Italian newspapers examined. The results show that newspaper inaccuracy – and its corrosive effect on media credibility – transcends national borders and journalism cultures. Nowadays, digitization offers new ways of implementing correction policies. Media organizations need, however, to adapt to these changes and to adapt their structures in particular to new forms of participative and interactive twoway

Don’t Feed the Trolls! Managing troublemakers in magazines’ online communities

Amy Binns

‘Trolling’ and other negative behaviour on magazine websites is widespread, ranging from subtly provocative behaviour to outright abuse. Publishers have sought to develop lively online communities, with high levels of user generated content. Methods of building sites have developed quickly, but methods of managing them have lagged behind. Some publishers have then felt overwhelmed by the size and behaviour of the communities they have created. This paper considers the reasons behind trolling and the tools digital editors have developed to manage their communities, taking up the role of Zygmunt Bauman’s gardeners in what they sometimes refer to as “walled gardens” within the internet’s wild domains. Interviews were conducted with online editors at the front line of site management at Bauer, Giraffe, IPC, Natmags, RBI and the Times. This article shows how publishers are designing sites that encourage constructive posting, and taking a more active part in site management. Web 2.0 and the spread of broadband, which have made management of fast-growing communities difficult, may themselves bring positive change. As uploading material becomes technically easier, “ordinary”
citizens can outnumber those who, lacking social skills or with little regard for social norms, originally made the Internet their natural habitat.

Communicative Action of Journalists and Public Information Officers: Habermas revisited

Judith McIntosh White

Public information officers (PIOs) represent a type of communications professional distinct from public relations practitioners (PRPs). From a structural functionalist viewpoint, journalists and PIOs share goals: Both see themselves as facilitating the information flow into the public sphere. Habermas’ communicative action models defining journalists as committed to revealing the ‘whole truth’ to the public, but PRPs as enmeshed in advocating private interests, do not adequately describe PIOs. Although journalists’ and PIOs’ goals are similar, barriers exist to inhibit their cooperation in achieving those mutual goals. Such barriers arise from academic ideal types fostering inaccurate perceptions of each other, perceptions reinforced by adaptive structuration within their respective organizations’ cultures. Empirical data support that PIOs’ and journalists’ divergent attitudes about their professional praxis combine with ideal-type constructions and organizational cultures to produce communication disconnects between the two.


Film Review: Johnny Be Gonzo, Brian McNair

Book Reviews

Notes on Contributors

Contents and Abstracts of June 2012

(Vol 6 - No 3)


Special Issue: Online Reporting Of Elections

Guest Editor: Einar Thorsen


Introduction: Online reporting of elections
Einar Thorsen


"The People's Debate”: The CNN/YouTube debates and the demotic voice in political journalism

Matt Carlson and Eran N. Ben-Porath

Popular participation lies at the core of democratic governance, yet the mediated conversation of politics has largely been limited to elite sources and professional journalists. New technological alternatives to the mass communication model create opportunities for the non-elite “demotic voice” in the mediated public sphere. However, the expansion of who speaks is not without tensions or efforts by traditionally powerful voices to retain control over communication channels. This article analyzes struggles surrounding the growing role of the demotic voice through a case study analysis of the 2007 CNN/YouTube debates among candidates for the US presidency.

Remediating #IranElection: Journalistic strategies used in positioning citizen-made snapshots and text bites from the 2009 Iranian post-election conflict

Rune Saugman Andersen

When mass protests and violent crackdown followed the 2009 Iranian presidential election, western mass media found themselves in a precarious situation: eager to report on the unfolding events, but without access to them; save through snapshots and text bites posted to content-sharing sites by unknown users. Basing news coverage on such content challenged journalistic understandings of credibility as produced by professional routines, thus disturbing the foundation of epistemic authority on which professional journalism builds. Neglecting it, however, would challenge journalism’s ability to portray anything at all. This article investigates how the positioning of citizen micro-journalism was textually negotiated in news reports by attributing different degrees of epistemic authority to citizen-made content. It argues that the strategies used greatly privilege the unknown image vis-à-vis the unknown verbal report. While verbal reports are treated as illustrative of communication practices or attributed doubt, images are allowed to represent the crisis, and frequently made indistinguishable from professionally produced content. Furthermore, in attributing citizen-made content to news agencies and mediation channels, the incorporation practices treat intermediation as a source of credibility.  Deconstructing the process of constructing epistemologically authoritative news thus highlights how mediation, news values, source practices, and image conventions are relied on to perform credibility.

Online Journalism and Election Reporting in India

Saayan Chattopadhyay

The news media scenario in India has been transformed substantially in the post-liberalization period as privatization and deregulation have facilitated cross-border flows of capital and technology. Online news media, a new yet popular segment, has emerged in the past decade in the wake of India’s rapid integration into the global economy. This article focuses on online news reporting of the last general election in India: the 2009 Lok Sabhā Election. Although there are an impressive number of studies regarding online social networking or new media in the global context, scant attention has been paid to the Indian subcontinent, the involvement of Indian politicians and political journalists with online media. Considering these aspects, this article explores how online media in India are changing the established political culture, albeit in a limited manner, and raises the issues that interweave notions of modernity, class-consciousness, and emerging participatory practices. The article seeks to make sense of how Indian journalism is transforming through social media use by analysing three different stakeholders during the Indian general election: politicians, political journalists and ordinary citizens. The very fact of “being” or “using” social media, it argues, becomes an “enticing” aspect for politicians to relate to the young, urban, upwardly mobile middleclass citizens of India and becomes pivotal in the discursive construction of a binary between the “old” politics/politicians and the “new” politics/politicians in present day India.

A Journey through Ten Countries: Online election coverage in Africa

Ben Akoh and Kwami Ahiabenu

The African Elections Project ( was established with the vision of enhancing the ability of journalists, citizen journalists and the news media to provide more timely and relevant election information and knowledge, while undertaking monitoring of specific and important aspects of elections using social media tools and ICT applications. Elections are the cornerstone of democracy and the media have a key role to play in deepening democracy by providing impartial coverage of elections. In addition to traditional election coverage, online election reporting on the Africa continent has been experiencing growth in recent years. It takes the form of special election websites that incorporate elements of citizen journalism or crowdsourcing and is mostly driven by mobile phones. It is mashed up with blogs, interactive maps and social media tools such as Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Facebook among others. This article chronicles the African Elections Project’s field experiences based on the elections it has covered in ten countries: Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Mauritania, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Togo and Niger, showing the similarities and importance of online election coverage in these countries. The internet is gradually providing new sets of tools for journalists which could be relevant and applicable for reporting elections. The paper concludes by showing the difficulties journalists encounter in the practice of reporting elections and offers suggestions for future research.

“Second-order” Elections and Online Journalism: A comparison of the 2009 EP elections’ coverage in Greece, Sweden and the UK

Asimina Michailidou

European Parliament elections are often classified as ‘second-order’ and there are few pan-European media outlets through which European Union (EU) elites can address voters directly. Given these conditions, can online journalism help broaden the scope of European political communication, facilitate interaction across the borders and refocus European Parliamentary election coverage on EU issues? Using an analytical model based on the public sphere, this article assesses online reporting of the 2009 European Parliamentary elections in Greece, Sweden and the United Kingdom, on three levels: publicization; participation; and public opinion formation. The results show that despite the differences between the selected countries in terms of online communication infrastructure and the maturity of the online public sphere, cross-national patterns of European Parliamentary election coverage emerge. This allows for reserved optimism regarding the role of online journalism in the building of a European public sphere.

(Not) the Twitter Election: The dynamics of the #ausvotes conversation in relation to the Australian media ecology

Jean Burgess and Axel Bruns

This paper draws on a larger study of the uses of Australian user-created content and online social networks to examine the relationships between professional journalists and highly engaged Australian users of political media within the wider media ecology, with a particular focus on Twitter. It uses an analysis of topic-based conversation networks using the #ausvotes hashtag on Twitter around the 2010 federal election to explore the key themes and issues addressed by this Twitter community during the campaign, and finds that Twitter users were largely commenting on the performance of mainstream media and politicians rather than engaging in direct political discussion. The often critical attitude of Twitter users towards the political establishment mirrors the approach of news and political bloggers to political actors, nearly a decade earlier, but the increasing adoption of Twitter as a communication tool by politicians, journalists, and everyday users alike makes a repetition of the polarisation experienced at that time appear unlikely.

Social Media as Beat: Tweets as news source during the 2010 British and Dutch elections

Marcel Broersma and Todd Graham

While the newspaper industry is in crisis and less time and resources are available for newsgathering, social media turn out to be a convenient and cheap beat for (political) journalism. This article investigates the use of Twitter as a source for newspaper coverage of the 2010 British and Dutch elections. Almost a quarter of the British and nearly half of the Dutch candidates shared their thoughts, visions, and experiences on Twitter. Subsequently, these tweets were increasingly quoted in newspaper coverage. We present a typology of the functions tweets have in news reports: they were either considered newsworthy as such, were a reason for further reporting, or were used to illustrate a broader news story. Consequently, we will show why politicians were successful in producing quotable tweets. While this paper, which is part of a broader project on how journalists (and politicians) use Twitter, focuses upon the coverage of election campaigns, our results indicate a broader trend in journalism. In the future, the reporter who attends events, gathers information face-to-face, and asks critical questions might instead aggregate information online and reproduce it in journalism discourse thereby altering the balance of power between journalists and sources.


Film Review: Tale of Two Dragons 
Brian McNair

Book Reviews

Notes on Contributors

Contents and Abstracts of April 2012

(Vol 6 - No 2)




The Promise of Computational Journalism

Terry Flew, Christina Spurgeon, Anna Daniel and Adam Swift

Computational journalism involves the application of software and technologies to the activities of journalism, and it draws from the fields of computer science, the social sciences, and media and communications. New technologies may enhance the traditional aims of journalism, or may initiate greater interaction between journalists and information and communication technology (ICT) specialists. The enhanced use of computing in news production is related in particular to three factors: larger government data sets becoming more widely available; the increasingly sophisticated and ubiquitous nature of software; and the developing digital economy. Drawing upon international examples, this paper argues that computational journalism techniques may provide new foundations for original investigative journalism and increase the scope for new forms of interaction with readers. Computer journalism provides a major opportunity to enhance the, production of original investigative journalism, and to attract and retain readers online.

Journalistic Discourse in the Mood of Change: A Comparative study of European MICE magazines

Jan Richard Baerug and Halliki Harro

The border between journalism and marketing communication is diminishing and media such as television and magazines are especially vulnerable to the colonisation of traditional journalistic genres by promotional information. From the point of view of audience perception, grouping certain media channels or discourses into ‘journalistic’ and others into ‘promotional’ or ‘mixed’ would provide a certain level of predictability, as well as a basis for their judgement of information. However, we argue here that category confusion takes place even inside sub-sectors of niche magazines. The objective of this international comparative research is to analyse the editorial ideologies and discursive practices concerning the hybridisation of media discourse in one media sector: the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) sub-sector of niche magazines. Can these magazines be identified as ‘journalistic’, ‘advert’ or ‘mixed’ oriented media? The empirical research is focused on the production process (the implementation of editorial principles) in key MICE magazines mainly in European countries. 

The Politics of Journalistic Creativity: Expressiveness, authenticity and de-authorization

Tim Markham

This article begins with the assertion that creativity in journalism has moved from being a matter of guile and ingenuity to being about expressiveness, and that this reflects a broader cultural shift from professional expertise to the authenticity of personal expression as dominant modes of valorization. It then seeks to unpack the normative baggage that underpins the case for creativity in the cultural industries. First, there is a prioritization of agency, which does not stand up against the phenomenological argument that we do not own our own practices. Second, creative expression is not necessarily more free, simply alternately structured. As with Judith Butler’s performativity model, contemporary discourses of creativity assume it to have a unique quality by which it eludes determination (relying on tropes of fluidity), whereas it can be countered that it is in spontaneous, intuitive practice that we are at our least agencical. Third, the article argues against the idea that by authorizing journalists (and audiences) to express themselves, creativity is democratizing, since the always-already nature of recognition means that subjects can only voice their position within an established terrain rather than engage active positioning.

More News for Less: How the professional values of 24/7 journalism reshaped Norway’s TV2 newsroom

Maria Konow Lund

Using an ethnographic case study of the Newschannel at TV2 Norway, this article reveals ways in which the assembly-line mentality required by 24/7 news production nevertheless encourages reporters to negotiate a certain autonomy over their work and the routines required to produce it. By reorganizing its staff’s use of time, space, and resources, TV2 was able to generate roughly eighteen hours of live news coverage a day during the article’s research period from 2007 to 2009. This production process is framed in terms of Schlesinger’s (1978) “reactive” mode, here qualified as “reactive-active”, because it allows for the possibility of broadcasting “live” and gathering news at the same time. The article also revisits the concept of “professionalism” with regard to a traditional broadcaster’s implementation of a 24/7 news channel within its existing newsroom. As a result of this process, more news—and more content concerning that news—is produced more efficiently while the tenets of traditional journalism remain operative.

Opening the Gates: Interactive and multimedia elements of newspaper websites in Latin America

Ingrid Bachmann and Summer Harlow

In the light of newspapers’ struggle to maintain readers and viability in the digital era, this study aims to understand better how newspapers in Latin America are responding to this shift toward user-generated and multimedia content. Using a content analysis of 19 newspapers from throughout Latin America, this study found that newspaper websites are bringing citizens into the virtual newsroom on a limited basis, allowing them to interact with each other and with the newspaper but only to a modest degree. For example, while all newspaper websites have some multimedia content and most have Facebook and Twitter accounts, few allow readers to report errors, submit their own content, or even contact reporters directly. Further, most online newspaper articles include photos, but video, audio and hyperlinks rarely are used. These results further our understanding of how online interactivity is changing the traditional role of journalists and how Latin America is responding to the challenge.

Old Turf, New Neighbors: Journalists' perspectives on their new shared space

Jaime Loke

Online news readers’ comments have been the subject of intense debates in newsrooms across the United States.  Caught unexpectedly as hosts of this new public space, journalists are trapped in a conundrum between upholding traditional ideals of providing a space for dialogue for their public but yet at the same time not wanting to create a space for hate in online news readers’ comments sections.  This research examines perspectives of 30 journalists in the United States through in-depth interviews regarding this new online public space.  The survey results illuminates the experiences journalists are undergoing in their new roles, how they balance their responsibilities and the vision they hold of the future for this new space as they learn to navigate unguided through this new electronic landscape.

Newsroom Practices and Letters-to-the-Editor: An analysis of selection criteria

Marisa Torres da Silva

Letters-to-the-editor provide a significant forum for public debate, enabling the exchange of information, ideas and opinions between different groups of people. Since journalistic work is central to the processes of citizenship, this article observes the social context surrounding letters-to-the-editor in four Portuguese press publications. Keeping in mind the existence of a set of selection criteria, based on newsroom practices, it is possible to characterize the debate that takes place in the letters’ section as a construction. As with any other editorial content, the published letters are also a result of a selection, editing and framing process, shaped by journalistic routines and subject to limitations such as space and time.

Managed Mediocrity? Regional journalists’ perspectives on the “pampers generation” of Russian reporters

Elina Viktorovna Erzikova and Wilson Lowrey

This paper adopts Bourdieu’s field theory to examine a possible professional gap between  young and experienced Russian regional journalists. In-depth interviews revealed that experienced journalists have a negative view of their young colleagues, seeing them as unskilled, poorly motivated, mediocre, and submissive to authority. In their turn, beginners see the older generation as lacking dynamism and dedication to help young reporters to master professional skills. It appeared that younger reporters tend to choose different professional priorities, to pursue sources of “capital” that derive from beyond the journalistic field, and to follow different historical trajectories than older journalists. Because of the dependency of media on the state and the governmental reward for mediocrity, older study participants tended to doubt that young reporters would seek or obtain a measure of journalistic autonomy.


Film Review: Et Tu, George? Campaign journalism and the politics of compromise
Brian McNair

Book Reviews

Notes on Contributors

Contents and Abstracts of February 2012

(Vol 6 - No 1)


Special Issue on Lifestyle Journalism


Bob Franklin


Broadening the focus: why lifestyle journalism is an important field of study
Guest Editor’s Introduction

Folker Hanusch

This introduction to the special issue outlines the case for an increased focus on studying lifestyle journalism, an area of journalism which, despite its rapid rise over recent decades, has not received much attention from scholars in journalism studies. Criticised for being antithetical to public interest and watchdog notions of journalism, lifestyle journalism is still ridiculed by some as being unworthy of being associated with the term journalism. However, in outlining the field’s development and a critique of definitions of journalism, this paper argues that there are a number of good reasons for broadening the focus. In fact, lifestyle journalism – here defined as a distinct journalistic field that primarily addresses its audiences as consumers, providing them with factual information and advice, often in entertaining ways, about goods and services they can use in their daily lives – has much to offer for scholarly inquiry and is of increasing relevance for society.

Lifestyle Journalism as Popular Journalism: Strategies for Evaluating its Public Role

Elfriede Fürsich

This essay argues that lifestyle journalism, which is often considered trivial, should be analyzed for its public potential. I delineate how lifestyle journalism’s dimensions of review, advice, and commercialism can be transformed into strategies for research that probe the social, cultural and economic context of this media output. Then I discuss how its discourse is worth analyzing for its ideological connection. John Fiske’s (1989) ideas on “popular news” and Irene Costera Meijer’s concept of “public quality” (2001) are presented as guidelines for interrogating the public relevance of this type of journalism. Findings from studies on the globalization discourse in travel journalism and music journalism are used to exemplify this research framework.

”Lifestyle journalism – blurring boundaries”

Nete Nørgaard Kristensen & Unni From

The article argues that, in contemporary journalism, the boundaries between lifestyle journalism and cultural journalism are blurring. The discussions of the article are based in comprehensive empirical studies, more specifically a content analysis of the coverage of lifestyle, culture and consumption in the Danish printed press during the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first; and secondly, interviews with Danish cultural journalists and editors. The studies reveal that the coverage of lifestyle is expanding and that culture, lifestyle and consumption are today contiguous – sometimes even inseparable – subject matters, which even for journalists are difficult to separate. The findings are interpreted in the light of especially Jansson’s (2002) approach to mediatization of consumption as an expression of more general socio- and media cultural transformations of society.

Travel Journalism, Cosmopolitan Concern and the Politics of Destination Branding

Lyn McGaurr

As journalism scholars’ interest in the impact of public relations on hard news has grown in recent years, little attention has been paid to attempts by elite sources to influence soft journalism. In an effort to better understand what can, in fact, be complex interactions between travel journalists and public relations practitioners, this paper tracks one destination’s brand over an extended period of cosmopolitan concern. It finds that in times of conflict, government tourism public relations may become politically instrumental, as public relations practitioners seek simultaneously to promote the destination and shield it from media scrutiny. At such times, travel journalists may subvert traditional expectations of their genre by exposing contradictions in the brand. The paper concludes that the power of travel journalism derives not only from its authors’ capacity to communicate through their texts but also from their tendency to be enmeshed in the interactivity of the brand.

Bread and Circuses: Food Meets Politics in the Singapore Media

Andrew Duffy and Yang Yuhong Ashley

While there has been consistent academic interest in the link between the media and politics, this attention has mostly bypassed lifestyle journalism. Yet this can reflect the political and social realities of a country if less clearly than more overtly political coverage. This paper seeks to demonstrate how the Singapore government has used food to help construct a national identity and how the local print media have been a partner in this. It analyses how food has been represented in the Singapore press in relation to attitudes that contribute to nation-building. The findings suggest that the food-related articles studied usually reflected a culture of self-improvement, an ethnic-cultural element and cosmopolitan attitudes, all of which were identified as touchstones of Singapore’s government-approved national identity. In addition, there is also marginally more press coverage of cosmopolitan and foreign food compared to local food, in concurrence with government initiatives to place the country as a globalised hub.

Health and lifestyle to serve the public: A case study of a cross-media programme series from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation

Roel Puijk

This study traces the changes of a prime time health and lifestyle television program (Puls) on the main channel of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) across the last decade. The overall pattern of change is that as a public-service broadcaster, the NRK continues to broadcast factual programmes in prime time, which incorporate different entertainment and interactive elements to guarantee their popularity and relevance to the viewers. The integration of television and online activity has lessened over the years. The television content has become more lifestyle-oriented, while the Internet content has more stress on factual information and news. The use of reality elements has led to a strong emphasis on motivating the viewer to adopt an active lifestyle, while the viewers’ possibilities to participate actively in the programme have diminished.

Hypertextuality and Remediation in the Fashion Media: The case of fashion blogs

Agnès Rocamora

Since their appearance in the early noughties, fashion blogs have established themselves as a central platform for the circulation of fashion related news and information. Often the creation of fashion outsiders, they have entered the mainstream fashion media, bringing to light the shifting nature of fashion journalism. The paper discusses the rise of the fashion blogosphere and the impact of new technologies on the mediation of fashion. Drawing on the notions of hypertextuality and remediation it contributes to a recurring question in academic studies of digital culture: how new are new media? The paper looks at the ways fashion blogs define themselves in relation to traditional fashion journalism and the traditional fashion press. Their relation of co-dependance and mutual influence is unpacked to shed light on the contemporary field of the fashion media, and the role of new technologies in the production, circulation and consumption of fashion related news.

Service Journalism as Community Experience: Personal Technology and Personal Finance at The New York Times

Nikki Usher

This paper looks at service journalism and its evolution as a community platform through blog comments and social media through a case study of two sections of The New York Times’ business section: the personal finance section and the personal technology section. The paper proceeds through a discussion of the importance of networked journalism, and relies on in-depth qualitative interviews with the journalists closest to the decisions being made about how service journalism at the Times becomes a participatory experience for readers. The article argues that a Web 2.0 world facilitates a community experience that changes the one-to-many relationship that journalists have with their readers; instead, journalists make decisions about coverage and engage in conversations with readers in response to this new relationship with readers.

A New Generation of Lifestyle Magazine Journalism in China: the Professional Approach

Shuang Li

This study examines the new approach and working standards of Chinese journalists who are working in international consumer magazines in China. In the past 15 years, Chinese lifestyle journalists have reoriented their multiple functions to present their social role as an ‘information vehicle’, ‘serving the rising class’, with ‘independence from media ownership and commercial forces’ and ‘contributing consumerism to culture and traditional society’. The elements involved in this new genre of journalism include financial and operational autonomy from the State and editorial independence from their international parent magazine companies. This professional approach also utilizes a working strategy that lays bare each individual’s unique journalistic identity. The professionalization of these lifestyle magazine journalists is the result of a global and local media cultural collision; a product of the reconciliation of commercialism and professionalism.


Film Review:
Brian McNair

Book Reviews

Notes on Contributors