August 11th, 2014

Paper in Digital Journalism

Good news, everyone: Digital Journalism has published a paper with fresh results of our project.

Schmidt, J.-H.; Loosen, W. (2014): Both Sides of the Story. Assessing audience participation in journalism through the concept of inclusion distance. In: Digital Journalism, DOI: 10.1080/21670811.2014.930243.

[Update: In case you don't have access to the journal's content, you can use this link which gives up to 50 people free access.]

The paper is a fundamentally revised, expanded and updated version of the presentation Wiebke and Jan gave at the “Future of Journalism 2013″ conference in Cardiff, and we are very thankful for the reviewers and editors of Digital Journalism who gave us valuable feedback. In a way, the paper is a follow-up to Loosen/Schmidt (2012) where we discussed our theoretical approach and the concept of “inclusion distance” to assess the shifts in the journalist-audience relationship. The current paper demonstrates how to operationalize these constructs, with a particular focus on comparative analysis, since we present various findings from two case studies (on a daily TV broadcast and a weekly political talk show). Here’s the abstract in full:

While digital networked media contribute to a substantial shift in the relationship between journalists and their audiences, current research still largely focuses on one side or the other. This paper aims to overcome this conceptual and empirical deficit by presenting findings from two case studies on German news journalism (a daily TV newscast and a weekly political talk show). They operationalize the concept of inclusion distance, which aims at the (in-)congruence of mutual expectations between journalists and audience members, in a series of standardized surveys among newsroom staff as well as their online users. The paper introduces three different comparative dimensions which this study design affords and illustrates them with findings (1) on journalistic role conceptions and (2) the (assumed) motivations for participation. Besides demonstrating the value of such a multi-level comparison, our findings also provide substantial and nuanced evidence concerning the relation between journalists and their audiences: in both cases we find high congruence regarding the importance of traditional journalistic tasks such as objective reporting on complex issues, while the inclusion distance is larger for tasks connected to new participatory practices such as opportunities for user-generated content. Regarding motivations for participation, we find a somewhat larger inclusion distance as journalists of both newsrooms overestimate emotional or self-directed goals, but underestimate the wish for expanding knowledge as reasons why users participate.

Mai 14th, 2014

Two jpub-presentations accepted for the European Communication Conference 2014 in Lisbon! (And two others rejected.)

We are very happy to announce that we will hold two presentations at the European Communication Conference (ECC) 2014. This year, the biennial international conference which is hosted by the European Communication and Research Association (ECREA) will take place from November 12th to November 15th in Lisbon, Portugal.

You surely know that our jpub-project – roughly speaking – deals with how audiences participate at four different German news media and why they do so. But this time in, we will try to answer the question why a large part of the audiences we surveyed does not participate. If you want to know more, just take a look at the abstract we submitted on that topic. Furthermore, Julius will present some theoretical and analytical work from his dissertation project on personal branding in journalism (read the submitted abstract here).

Unfortunately, two other abstracts we had submitted were rejected. However, just like before, we want to tell you about those, too – especially since we won’t present them in Lisbon. Thus, we have uploaded them so you can also read about whether we think political TV talks are the ideal journalistic genre for audience participation and what we found when we compared a TV talk and a daily newscast with regard to what their journalists and users think about traditional as well as rather new journalistic tasks.

We’re looking forward to meeting you all in Lisbon.


April 8th, 2014

Three more months!

Thorough readers of this blog might remember that our project was initially scheduled to run from October 2011 to March 2014 (2.5 years in total), and thus might assume that we have wrapped up everything by now.

However (and to our great delight) we were able to secure HBI-internal funding for additional three months in order to finalize the two remaining case study reports and work on the book manuscript which will summarize our project. So while you better not expect very much blogging activity (since we are busy finalizing the project) over the coming weeks, you can look forward to more output and findings. [js]

Februar 11th, 2014

Breaking (up): “Founding member” Hendrik Holdmann to leave jPub2.0! Team says: Twitter-avatar no replacement!

Hamburg. Hendrik Holdmann (on the right in the photo), member of the jPub 2.0-team since its founding days back in 2011, last week announced to be leaving the research project. The “master of Citavi“, as he was called by his colleagues, was a key figure responsible for the team’s literature data base to approach the magic frontier of a thousand entries (current status: 998).


Hendrik Holdmann holding a cup.

Holdmann holds cup. (Photo: jr)

The team espressed its deep sadness about Holdmann’s departure and wishes him all the best and continuing success. Insiders say, there is hope Holdmann will return for writing his MA thesis.

Rumours that Holdmann acted as a model to Flo H. for his famous avatar for jPub’s account on Twitter (in the right hand/on the left in the photo) were not confirmed. Thus, it remains unclear whether Holdmann is going for a career in modeling or break dance, journalism, or research. [jr]

Januar 21st, 2014

Conferences in 2014: Acceptance and Rejection

Clearly, conference submission is one of the main thrills of academic research.. :-)
Our last two review results brought both joy and disappointment: The full paper we’ve submitted to this year’s ICA conference was rejected, which is a pity since we would have loved to travel to Seattle and present the most recent findings of our commparative approach. We are still puzzled over the reasons for the rejection and are waiting for the full reviews to check and improve the paper, since there might be other opportunities or outlets for a revised version.
On the plus side, our extended abstract on comparing the differences in role conceptions between journalists and users at the Tagesschau and a weekly political talk show has been accepted for the DGPuK conference 2014. This is going to be a very interesting opportunity to present our findings to the German(-speaking) community of communication researchers, and we are looking forward to travelling to Passau in May.

Januar 7th, 2014

Zweiter Fallstudienbericht: Publikumsinklusion bei einem ARD-Polittalk

Noch im vergangenen Jahr haben wir eine weitere Fallstudie unseres Projekts abgeschlossen und den Bericht in der Reihe der Arbeitspapiere des Hans-Bredow-Instituts veröffentlicht:

Loosen, Wiebke; Schmidt, Jan-Hinrik; Heise, Nele; Reimer, Julius (2013): Publikumsinklusion bei einem ARD-Polittalk. Zusammenfassender Fallstudienbericht aus dem DFG-Projekt „Die (Wieder-)Ent­deckung des Publikums“. Hamburg: Verlag Hans-Bredow-Institut, Dezember 2013 (Arbeitspapiere des Hans-Bredow-Instituts Nr. 28). Online:

Diese zwei von insgesamt vier Fallstudien behandelte einen (auf Wunsch der Redaktion ungenannt bleibenden) wöchentlich Polittalk in der ARD. Wie schon in der ersten Fallstudie zur Tagesschau haben wir also erneut ein journalistisches TV-Angebot unter die Lupe genommen und untersucht, wie sich die veränderten Möglichkeiten zur Publikumsbeteiligung sowohl bei den Journalisten als auch bei den Zuschauern bzw. Nutzern des Online-Angebots auf Praktiken und wechselseitige Erwartungen auswirken. Im Unterschied zur Tagesschau, die ein strikt informationsorientiertes nachrichtenjournalistisches Angebot darstellt, ist der Polittalk stark auf Debatte ausgerichtet. Dieser Umstand, genauso wie die wöchentlichen Produktions- und Sendungsrhythmen, wirken sich unserer Analyse zufolge redaktions- wie publikumsseitig auf die Inanspruchnahme von Beteiligungsmöglichkeiten aus; Vorstellungen und (Erwartungs-)Erwartungen über journalistische Aufgaben und die Rolle, die das Publikum dabei spielen kann, unterscheiden sich ebenfalls zwischen den beiden Fallstudien.


November 29th, 2013

FAQ: the jpub-questionnaires on audience inclusion in journalism

Here at jpub, we believe that transparency is a key attribute of good scientific research. That’s one reason why we write this blog. And that’s also the reason why we decided to publish in detail the questionnaires we used in our standardized surveys among journalists and audience members. You find the original German versions as well as English translations of the questionnaires underneath this post for download. But if you want to know a little more about the context in which they were used, read on to learn about our methodological approach:

As you might have read in one of our publications (e.g., Heise/Loosen/Reimer/Schmidt 2013) or heard about in one of our presentations, the jpub-project (Re-)Discovering the audience consists of four case studies of different news outlets and their audiences (s. fig. 1):


Fig. 1: The four case studies

In each of the case studies, we investigate the journalists’ as well as the audience members’ performances and expectations with regard to audience inclusion as described in the following heuristic model (see fig. 2) developed by Wiebke Loosen & Jan-Hinrik Schmidt (2012; you can download a pre-print version of the paper here):


Fig. 2: Heuristic model developed by Loosen/Schmidt (2012)

By comparing performances on both sides, we can determine the inclusion level which can be high or low on either side as well as even or uneven. By comparing inclusion expectations on both sides, we find out about the inclusion distance between journalists and their audience: It is small if expectations are rather congruent; it is large, if expectations differ to a greater extent.

Researching both manifest performances and expectations among journalists as well as audience members  requires a multi-method approach with a fixed set of methods applied in every case study (see fig. 3 for the example of the newscast case study):


Fig. 3: Methods applied in every case study (example case study: newscast Tagesschau)

For instance, we conduct in-depth interviews with members of the newsroom in different positions (from leading editors to community managers) as well as with audience members who participate to varying degrees (from those who only read or watch the parent medium to those who comment heavily on the medium’s website or run their own user blog there).

Two very important components of our approach are the standardized surveys which we conduct in every case study: one among the respective news outlet’s news staff and one among the users of its online presence.

In addition to some general questions on their position and work in the newsroom as well as on socio-demographic characteristics, the journalists are asked

  • which sources their image of the audience relies on,
  • how often they are in contact with their audience for different purposes (e.g., for research, to moderate online discussions, to promote new content, to make editorial decisions transparent, …),
  • how often they use social media features for journalistic activities (e.g., to find sources or eye witnesses of an event, to receive notifications of errors, to obtain an impression of the public opinion towards a particular topic, …),
  • which roles they ascribe to their audience (e.g., passive viewers/readers, commentators, experts, providers of topics, producers of content, …).

The audience members are asked

  • which journalistic products and offers of the respective outlet they use and how often,
  • which participatory features they use and how often (e.g., sending audience mail, “liking” posts on the outlet’s Facebook page, commenting in the outlet’s discussion forum, sharing website content, …),
  • if they use their real name or a pseudonym when they participate,
  • whom they address when they comment publicly,
  • whom they speak for when they comment publicly,
  • to what extent they want journalists to moderate and engage in online discussions,
  • how they evaluate audience members’ contributions in the respective outlet’s different offers,
  • and – if they do not or only rarely participate – what keeps them from participating.

A special feature of the surveys is that four more item batteries which deal with important dimensions of inclusion expectations are included in both the questionnaire for journalists and the questionnaire for audience members. This allows us to compare directly both sides’ ratings of these items and calculate inclusion distance in the four dimensions (see fig. 4):


Fig. 4: Operationalisation of inclusion distance in the standardised online surveys

In detail, we ask an outlet’s audience members what motivates them to participate; and we ask the outlet’s journalists what they think their audience’s motivations for participation are. Furthermore, we ask journalists which goals they pursue in their journalistic work; and we ask their audience which goals the respective outlet’s journalists in their view should pursue. Moreover, we ask audience members how much importance they ascribe to certain participatory functions; and we ask journalists how important they assume these functions are to their audience. Finally, we ask both sides to rate some general statements on audience inclusion at the respective news outlet, e.g. with regard to strategic rationales and the impact of participation on the journalistic process and products.

If you are interested in how a comparison of journalists’ and audience members’ (expected) inclusion expectations looks like in detail, you might want to read Including the audience. Comparing the attitudes and expectations of journalists and users towards participation in German TV news journalism., the article we recently published in Journalism Studies.






September 20th, 2013

Presentation on Inclusion Distance at #foj2103

Last week, Wiebke and Jan had the pleasure to participate in the biennial “Future of Journalism 2013” conference in Cardiff, UK. The organizers did a great job bringing together around 100 international scholars on journalism and digital media, to discuss recent research and avenues for future collaborations. Various sessions were liveblogged, and you can also see some of the resonance from participants via the #foj13 hashtag.

On Friday morning, we presented new findings from our project, focussing on the concept of inclusion distance and the different comparative logics our research design affords. Below you find the presentation; since we have not yet received any news on whether we are among the papers to be selected for a journal special issue, we do not put the paper online at the moment. However, we are happy to share it if you contact us directly, and we will let you know as soon as it is publicly available.


September 11th, 2013

JPub20 News: Article in “Journalism Studies”

It has been a while since we posted some news about the progress within the research project. However, the last weeks – and the current one in particular – have been very busy ones for the JPub20 team.

For one, we are very happy to announce that our article “Including the Audience: Comparing the attitudes and expectations of journalists and users towards participation in German TV news journalism” has been published by Journalism Studies and is now available online. Fifty e-prints are available via this link – first come, first serve.. :-)

The audience has always been an important reference for journalism although, under mass media conditions, it remained an ‘‘operative fiction’’ for its practitioners, reflecting a clear distinction between sender and recipients. Recent shifts in mediated communication towards networked public spheres and the increasing implementation of participatory features force media organizations, journalists and scholars alike to rethink the journalism-audience relationship. We introduce the concept of audience inclusion in journalism, to provide an analytical framework to investigate the relationship between journalists and (their) audience. The article presents the results of a multi-method case study of the German television newscast ‘‘Tagesschau’’ and its online platform, and compares the attitudes of journalists and audience members towards the role of journalists, the relevance of participatory functions, the motivations for participation, and their general assessment of audience participation. By and large we find congruence between journalists’ and users’ expectations towards audience participation in news journalism. However, there is notable disagreement regarding the (assumed) motivations of users for participating at ‘‘Tagesschau’’.

At the moment, our team members Wiebke and Jan are at the prestigious bienal conference “Future of Journalism” (September 11-13, Cardiff) to present a follow-up paper on how to measure the inclusion distance between journalism and audience; the presentation will be put online in the next days.

August 23rd, 2013

Wir haben fremdgebloggt!

…und zwar über die Ergebnisse unserer ersten Fallstudie bei der Tagesschau: Welchen Journalismus und welche Partizipationsmöglichkeiten erwartet das Publikum von Deutschlands ältester Nachrichtensendung? Warum beteiligen sich aktive Nutzer auf Und was halten die Journalisten der Tagesschau davon? Die Antworten in Kurzform gibt es nun hier beim European Journalism Observatory.