Archive for ‘english’

Juni 4th, 2013

News from the #jpub20 project & our presentations at ICA 2013

Hi everyone,

we have good news about the progress of the JPub20-project. For one, the field phase of our fourth case study, the weekly newspaper magazine „der Freitag“, has begun last week. Three members of the team – Wiebke, Nele and Julius – went to Berlin to interview the chief editor Philip Grassmann, one reporter from the politics ressort, as well as two community-editors. As expected, the case study is very interesting because of its „community“ concept, which is quite unique in the German news landscape. Here, users can become bloggers on the newspaper’s website and write and discuss about many different topics. In some cases, excellent user-generated content is presented on the homepage of, and/or even printed in the weekly issue of the self-declared „opinion medium“. We are very happy with this cooperation and we will keep you informed about the empirical stages of this case study (our last one – how exciting!).

Talking of excitement: Nele went to Berlin one day earlier to take part in a plenary discussion on „Journalism & Technology“. The discussion was part of the so-called „Digitaler Salon“, a monthly event by the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society and the public radio broadcaster „DRadio Wissen“. The whole thing was live streamed on May 29 and is also available for downloading (in German).

Besides these Berlin-related events, we are also preparing a trip to London in two weeks: From June 17 to 21 2013 the Annual Conference of the ICA is held in England’s capital. Our project is represented with two presentations. For one, Nele will talk about a pre-study of her dissertation project at the pre-conference „The Objects of Journalism“. And secondly Julius is going to present selected results of our first case study, the „Tagesschau“, on June 21, 12:00pm to 1:15pm (session title „Participatory Journalism: Reimagining the Role of Audiences and Journalists“). The presentation deals with the comparison of attitudes and expectations towards audience inclusion and participatory features between journalists and users of the daily TV newscast. In case you’re interested in the findings and conclusions, we will gladly provide the full paper (ca. 30 pages) with figures, tables etc. via e-mail. And, of course, we hope to meet you in London!


April 16th, 2013

Future of Journalism 2013

The biennial „Future of Journalism“, hosted by the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media, and Cultural Studies, will be back in September 2013. We’re excited to be part of this year’s conference and their impressive list of speakers.Wiebke Loosen and Jan-Hinrik Schmidt will present the then-latest findings of our ongoing fieldwork; in September we will be able (fingers crossed) to compare and discuss data from three different case studies: The daily TV newscast „Tagesschau“, a weekly TV political talkshow, and a daily national newspaper. The abstract for our talk is below.


Both sides of the story: Assessing audience participation in journalism through the concepts of inclusion level and inclusion distance

Digital networked media provide various means and spaces for audience participation in journalism and force journalists and scholars alike to rethink the journalism-audience-relationship. However, due to the traditional scholarly division between the fields of journalism research and audience research, most studies are focused on either the  journalism side  or on the  audience side . With the concept of audience inclusion in journalism we introduce a heuristic model to connect findings on practices and expectations around audience participation from both research traditions. Inclusion practices are performed by journalists as well as by users of journalistic outlets; the amount and scope of these practices can be expressed as inclusion level. They are framed by guiding expectations about participation, which condense, for example, in journalistic self-images, or in assessments of other users  contributions among the audience. The (in-) congruence of expectations of journalists and audience members can be expressed as inclusion distance. Findings from an ongoing multi-method research project on three German newsrooms (TV newscast; political TV talk show; daily newspaper) demonstrate not only the operationalization of the conceptual model, but also give insight into inclusion distance and inclusion level at tree major German journalistic outlets. Preliminary results show an uneven inclusion level (participatory mechanisms are part of daily work routines, but used only by a minority of users) as well as small inclusion distance (indicating that among users the idea of core journalistic functions are still held highly). However, there is notable disagreement regarding (assumed) motivations for participation between journalists and audience members.


März 25th, 2013

Research Report Case Study One: the „Tagesschau“

After nearly one year of data generation (including 16 in-depth-interviews, two online surveys, three content analyses) and interpretation we are very proud to announce that the research report on our first case study is now available online (in German):

Wiebke Loosen / Jan-Hinrik Schmidt / Nele Heise / Julius Reimer / Mareike Scheler (2013): Publikumsinklusion bei der Tagesschau. Zusammenfassender Fallstudienbericht aus dem DFG-Projekt „Die (Wieder-)Entdeckung des Publikums“. Arbeitspapiere des Hans-Bredow-Instituts Nr. 26. Hamburg: Verlag Hans-Bredow-Institut, März 2013. Online:

The report presents and discusses the findings of our research at the most traditional German TV news cast, the „Tagesschau„. At first, we introduce our theoretical heuristic of audience inclusion which guided the several stages of our empirical work. The model differentiates between inclusion performances as well as inclusion expectations (of journalists / the medium under observation, and its users/recipients); everything else you need to know about the theoretical background of our project is presented in a journal article by Wiebke and Jan.

Secondly, we give an overview over the results of our research within the „Tagesschau“ newsroom, as well as the outcomes of the qualitative and quantitative surveys among the „Tagesschau“ audience. And finally, we discuss the implications of these findings with regard to: a) the inclusion level at the „Tagesschau“ (i.e. the [a]symmetry of inclusion performances on both sides), and b) the inclusion distance (i.e. the [in]concruency of mutual expectations) between journalists and audience members of the newscast. Additionally, two separate technical reports which document the basic descriptive tables from the surveys on the users and the editorial staff of the Tagesschau newsroom are online as well.

So, please feel free to share the good news and do not hesitate to get in contact with us if you have any questions, praise or critical remarks etc.



März 12th, 2013

Notes on our „Corporate Eidentity“*

When our project started in October 2011, we decided to do it „Cyberscience 2.0″[1] style and we came up with the idea to create an account on Twitter (which can be found here, by the way). For one, we wanted to use Twitter as a tool of networking (with other researchers, journalists and media companies) as well as information and communication (e.g. tweeting information about new blog content, retweeting interesting „stuff“ about developments on the field of our project topics or conference tweeting). Moreover, our Twitter account functions as a digital business card (e.g. on presentation slides or in research-reports), which is easy to find and which helps people to follow our activities online. And yes, it also helps us to gain attention for our project and its outcomes.[2]

But we all know that Social Media activities do not work very well on a anonymous, impersonal basis. Hence, we had to find a striking (or at least „creative“) icon or avatar to represent our project in the Twittersphere. After months and months, a colleague of ours, Florian Hohmann, created our very own jPub20 egg – our „eIcon“ – a playful version of the Twitter default avatar, which became a very important piece of our „scientific corporate Eidentity“.

eIcon jPub20team eIcon jPub20team Easter Version

As you can see above: the „eIcon“ not only symbolizes the vast amount of intelligence of our project team members (note the glasses!). It is also flexible with regard to festivities and holidays (Easter in this case) and it can be used in a variety of contexts, e.g. as a „group portrait“ (as it has been used for a preview of our presentation at the annual conference of the DGPuK this year in Mainz). We are very proud of our „Eidentity“ and suggest that every publicly funded research project should have one.

However: Although some weeks are still ahead, we wish happy easter holidays to all our readers! Have a pleasant time and: may the eggs be with you.



* Warning: This posting might contain traces of (self) irony (and nuts).


[1] Nentwich, M. & König, R. (2012): Cyberscience 2.0. Research in the Age of Digital Social Networks. Frankfurt/M.: Campus Verlag.
[2] Besides these practices of identity, information and relationship management (see: Schmidt, J (2007). Blogging Practices. An Analytical Framework. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(4), article 13), we use the Twitter account also for scientific purposes, e.g. the observation of our case studies or for the feature analyses.
Februar 26th, 2013

Conference report #2: „from analog to digital“
February 2013, Munich

A snowy weekend early February in Munich: journalism researchers, media practitioners and others came together for two days  in the auditorium maximum of the Institute for Communication Science and Media Research to hear a number of presentations about a currently hot debated topic: „Journalism & Technology“.
On February 8 and 9, 2013 the division „Journalism/Journalism research“ of the DGPuK (German Association of Media and Communication Studies) invited the audience to discuss this topic under the motto „From analog to digital“. Thanks to the hard working tweeps, Nele was able to put together a conference Storify (in German) – including meta communication ^^ Further information about the conference, some visual impressions and long abstracts of all presentations can be found on the conference website.

In the first panel, research on various aspects of changing newsroom(s) (practices) was presented:

  • Peter Schumacher started his talk on the new role of online news site chief editors with the statement that „Blattmachen online“ is a very diverse and somewhat fuzzy task which contains aspects like the selection, the „mixing“, distribution and presentation of news items throughout the day. He presented the results of eleven semi-standardized interviews with chief editors of online news sites as well as a content analysis of the lead stories (top five slots) of six German news websites. What he found in his research is that the selection routines of chief editors in online newsrooms are not only structured by a specific setting of the workplace – several monitors help the person in charge to simultaneously observe the news stories of news agencies, other news websites and user statistics etc. Moreover, the „Drehgeschwindigkeit“ (rotation) of the top stories is heavily influenced by temporal structures, especially by the news production rhythms of the offline pendant; e.g. in the afternoon, more „shovelware“ from the print newsroom is integrated on the website. The chief editors also described a certain „topicality pressure“, i.e. they change the top stories very often during the day. For example, Schuhmacher identified patterns of „afternoon nervousness“ on Regarding the mixture of leading stories, Schuhmacher found that every online newsroom has its own (quite flexible) rules which lead to a specific thematic website profile. To create that certain mixture, most chief editors rely on their long-time experience and assumptions about relevance, but not so much on live statistics and numbers. Instead, clicks and usage data are strategical components which are used to place news stories at the right moment and to gain the highest attention as possible.
  • Afterwards, Sonja Kretzschmar presented a standardized survey among 90 editors responsible for crossmedia activities of local newspaper editions. The findings indicate that while social media nowadays are an important tool for journalistic inquiry, distribution and interaction, other crossmedia activities are not executed extensivly (e.g. very few time is spent on mobile editions). Moreover, the systematic coordination and integration of cross media activities is very limited due to rudimentary organizational routines – according to Kretzschmar, the analyzed German local newspapers did not adjust their work routines to meet the challenges of crossmedia; principles of change management are mostly not taken into account. Instead, the implementation of innovation appears as a „top-down“ process, initiated by publishers. Hence, a lack of transparency and internal communication leads to a certain resistance within the newsroom staff (also depending on age and skills). Kretzschmar concluded that there is room for optimization, and a need for further education among journalists within local newspaper departments.

The second panel was dedicated to the role of technology as a supportive structure for participatory practices:

  • First, Thomas Roessing presented his research on Wikipedia as a gateway for breaking news. According to him, the role of Wikipedia (not Wikinews!) in the very moment of breaking news events is highly contested among the members of the Wikipedia community due to the website’s self-understanding as an encyclopedia. He exemplified the function of Wikipedia as a „second-level-gatekeeper“ with some case studies (e.g. tsunami in 2004, London bombings in 2005, mass panic at the Loveparade in 2010), where he combined a quantative analysis of the article version histories as well as a qualitative analysis of the community discussions.
  • Christian Nuernbergk presented his dissertation project, a complex network analysis which was based on linkings between over 300 weblogs regarding the news reporting by the leading German online news site Spiegel Online and Indymedia on the G8 summit in Heiligendamm (2007). His project was focused on the participatory performances of information mediation and distribution and their resonance in networks of media related follow-up communication. He came to the conclusion that at that time the bloggers and the blogosphere in general to some extent failed as information facilitators, due to misfunctions in their network structure.
  • Finally, Timo Spieß (together with Annika Sehl) presented his bachelor thesis (!) in which he analyzed the potentials and risks of Social TV and Second Screen for TV journalism. His research object was the „Rundshow“, the first Social TV experiment in German television, which was initiated by the public service broadcaster Bayrischer Rundfunk. The daily late-evening show aired in Summer 2012 and integrated several features such as Google hangouts, interactive tools (e.g. the smartphone app and voting tool „Die Macht“; open editorial conferences) and various Social Media channels. Spieß quantatively analyzed the usage data of these participatory features (>16.000 text fragments and > 32.000 voting results – the data came from the BR). His findings indicate that: a) most social interaction regarding the show took place on Twitter (76,6%) – the second-screen app „Die Macht“ was not used extensively for interaction (7,9%) but there was a high interest in the voting function; b) the tools were mainly used by (a smaller group of) users that have been very active beforehand; and c) the users/viewers mainly discussed the show (concept) itself and not so much the current issues – they also showed not much interest in the preparation of the show (e.g. by proposing a topic or submitting material/UGC). All in all, the Social TV experiment reached a smaller (active) group of people with a high social media affinity – a continuation of the program is not planned.

The third panel was entitled technology as a journalistic tool„:

  • Ralf Spiller & Stefan Weinacht presented the first explorative survey among data journalists in Germany. First, it came as a surprise that only 28 persons define themselves as „data-journalists“. Second, data journalists have a quite different self-image than „normal“ journalists: they see themselves as investigative „detectives“ and „team workers“ and emphasize functions such as „to control politics, economy and society“. Nevertheless: According to Spiller/Weinacht it seems questionable if every form of data- journalism really counts as journalism – sometimes it seems more appropriate to refer to it as a „service“ which formerly has been called „computer-assisted reporting“.
  • Cornelia Wolf gave a presentation about the technical potential of mobile apps and their implementation by German news media. In her dissertation project, she carried out a content analysis of 457 journalistic smartphone and tablet apps with regard to ten dimensions of their technical potential (e.g. actuality, additivity, connectivity, intuitivity or playfulness). Her findings indicate that journalistic apps in general do not make extensive use of interactive functions; interestingly, radio apps integrate features for content production to a higher extent than other media types. Furthermore, the use of technical potentials seems to be highly dependend on the „mother medium“. All in all, print magazines appear  to offer the most innovative apps, although mobile specifics, such as context sensitivity, are not embedded (yet).

Two members of our project team also participated in the conference – Wiebke as the speaker of the DGPuK group and host of panel 4 „technological intermediation“ which included a talk by Nele. In her presentation about technical artifacts as intermediaries (the slides are available on our „Output“ page), Nele discussed the conference theme from a macro perspective by taking into account the „other“ side of journalism: the audience. In her talk she brought up a systematization of technical objects (divided into infrastructure, hardware and software), and some explanations why they sometimes appear complicated for media pracitioners, users and researchers alike (which stems from their seamlessness, their dynamic and multiple layers etc.).  Nele also proposed a systematization of intermediating functions of technical objects as well as a model that integrates journalists, users and technical objects (their design, functionality and purpose), and how they are mutually shaping or being shaped by processes of appropriation, routines/practices of usage and social representations [>> Note: this is work in progress^^].

Two keynotes & one panel discussion

The first keynote by John Pavlik on day one surely was a highlight of the event. Via live video streaming from Qatar, Pavlik gave an introduction to the implementation of Augmented Reality (AR) in the field of journalism. One example was his project on situated documentaries which he called a form of „first person journalism“ (non-linear, interactive, dynamic, contextual and immersive) where the user becomes an ethnographer of his environment; another example was a special issue of the „Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin“ in 2010. According to Pavlik, among the profits of using AR in journalism are the effective addressing and (re-)engagement of younger user segments (in times of multi-screen usage and widespread use of mobile devices). Nevertheless, journalists must think innovative and creative to harness these potentials of storytelling which could also enable a „fluid discourse“. Pavlik ended his talk with the (rather critical) remark that „technology intermediaries now control the future of the news“, an issue which has to be discussed.

In the late afternoon, Christoph Neuberger moderated a panel discussion that brought together four experts from the R&D area: Prof. Dr. Berchtold pointed out that the printing industry is declining and investments in innovation on the field are rare; Dipl.-Ing. Christoph Dosch introduced the „Contentus Project“, a very interesting attempt to make media content more accessible and archivable via meta data and semantic search; Hannspeter Richter (workflow management at Bayrischer Rundfunk) talked about the new trimedia strategy of the broadcaster, i.e. in the future, the editorial departments of TV, radio and online will work together on specific topics and produce content for all three media; and Prof. Dr. Hußmann who talked about his work at the department for media informatics (University of Munich) and future developments, e.g. the ubiquity of video displays, moving images and interactivity as a standard requirement of media content, new workplaces (like BendDesk) and new challenges for journalists (such as the authentification of sources with the help of implicit biometrical information). In the following discussion it was problematized that journalism research is always more or less behind technological innovation because academics are learning about new technological tools when they are already implemented in newsrooms. Another issue was the supplement and substitution of journalistic work by technology. Good news for journalists: crafting/handiwork might be substituted in many areas, but intellectual performances will not. Or, as Mr. Dosch, has put it: „Journalists are the soul of democracy“.

In the second keynote (on day two), Jürgen Wilke from the University of Mainz talked about technological change and journalism from a historical perspective. He drew a historical, physically determined line from mechanization to electrification till computerization and digitization. According to Wilke, the electrification of journalism was a rather late phenomenon which was mainly driven by economic aspects and led to several thrusts of acceleration. Eventually, such phases of technological change are influencing journalism on four levels: information gathering, information processing, information content and formal presentation, as well as information dissemination.

Room for Discussion

Overall, the (well organized) event was dominated by empiricial research and showed a variety of methodological approaches towards (technologically driven) innovation and technology-related changes on the field of journalism. In his final remarks, the local conference organizer, Prof. Dr. Christoph Neuberger, pointed out that the timely analyses of current developments in the journalism field was very impressive (which it was). At the same time, he encouraged journalism researchers to push forward theory building (as an important addition of descriptive work) and methodological innovation – I absolutely second that. Two important aspects were added by the audience: a) that journalism research should rethink the „newness“ of recent developments and, in this context, should consider older studies and theories which were elaborated in decades that saw massive structural changes (e.g. computerization of newsrooms in the 70s/80s); and b) that we should reflect very carefully about tendencies to „fetishize“ innovation as a merely positive connotated, „natural“ development – not only with regard to our research objects but also our own research and interpretations.


Februar 3rd, 2013

New(s) stuff

After four months we think it’s time for a new roundup of recent developments and innovations in journalism and user participation.

One tool journalists are currently experimenting with is Google-Hangouts. Rob O’Regan knows six ways in which newsrooms can use Google-Hangouts, i.e. for

  • interviews (obvious)
  • discussing breaking news
  • how-to’s, demonstrations or educational programming
  • collaboration within the newsroom (e.g. to jointly discuss story development)
  • chats of writers and editors with paying users
  • focus groups to get feedback on issues, articles, websites etc.

Btw: O’Regans evaluation that “Google+ is not yet a Facebook killer” is certainly true for the majority of people. But for a small number of recipients of online journalism, Google+ has already killed Facebook: Some of the users we interviewed for jpub20-case studies valued Google+ much higher than Facebook in terms of discussion quality and culture.

Similarly, these 91 (!) slides by Mykl Novak offer not only an overview over the contents and functions of tumblr and the socio demographics of its users as well as comparisons with Facebook, Google+ and Twitter as far as unique visitors and duration of visits are concerned, but also present some examples of how newsrooms use tumblr. Among Novak’s tip: Strike a balance between

  • creation
  • curation
  • transparency
  • new, visual formats and
  • and user participation/crowdsourcing.

You’re rather interested in using Pinterest for journalism? No problem: Mallary Jean Tenore tells you how other journalists use Pinterest to

  • highlight feature content
  • resurface old content
  • respond to news events
  • showcase local attractions and events and
  • reach new audiences.

In this older German post, we already told you about Truth Teller, an application that spots false claims made by politicians in speeches, interviews and so on – in real-time! An algorithm transcribes the words of the speaker into text checks them against the Washington Post’s database of checked facts. Now the WP has launched the prototype of Truth Teller and explains how it works in a video. In a recent post, David Holmes explains the advantage of using robots to do the fact-checking: No one would think they’re biased. But Holmes also points to the problem that the WP’s database the politicians’ claims are checked against consists of facts that have been verified by real human journalists. And if that data leans one way or the other, the unbiased algorithm produces biased evaluations nonetheless. Furthermore, the robot checks keywords, figures and so on. But it cannot understand what it transcribes so that it cannot check whether correct facts are used in a misleading context. However, “For right now at least, the program seems to hit a sweet spot between human reporting and algorithmic data collection.”, Holmes writes and suggests using Twitter as a data source for robot fact-checking during breaking news events.

In any case, “data” is a word you hear and read more and more often together in one sentence with “journalism”. No wonder that newsrooms are thinking about how to organize and utilize it: Sarah Marshall reports on a library software for collecting data and on how journalists extract stories from it. And Luuk Sengers writes about a research database that stores documents, questions, contacts, calendars and so on in one file.

If a newsroom used one of these tools publicly, it could showcase its research processes – thus, create transparency – and invite users to participate by saying which questions should be answered first because they are most important to them, by adding questions to be answered, by pointing to sources who could answer the journalists’ questions and so on. German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has just completed a three-day-experiment with such a kind of user participation using an interactive mindmap to gather research questions and answers concerning as well as to discuss about textile production.

From live-research to live-coverage: Reporting current events in real-time using Twitter offers recipients unique opportunities to comment on the event itself as well as on the way quality of coverage. David Higgerson offers some advice for journalists who want to give it a try. tl;dr? Just take a look at this infographic about live-blogging by Elisabeth Ashton. Interested in more infographics? Cool Infographics is a site dedicated only to them. And if you are searching for a tool to use for live-blogging, you should read Sarah Marshall‘s article on Liveblog Pro, a platform built by two students and a journalist who seem not to have much confidence in journalists’ skills concerning the adoption of new technology: “Liveblog Pro was built with journalists in mind, making it as simple as possible.”

The fine thing about Twitter is that you cannot only use it to disseminate information but also to collect it. However, using tweets as a source is very risky unless the information gathered is verified. Fortunately, Steve Buttry knows how to evaluate the validity of tweets. It might also be useful to watch this video in which Malachy Browne explains how Storyful separated news from noise by verifying user-generated videos and images during hurricane Sandy. In case that for once you haven’t checked the info carefully enough: Rachel McAthy talked to Steve Buttry, Craig Silverman and others about how to correct mistakes online. [jr]

Januar 16th, 2013

2013: year of the JPub

Great project news at the start of the new year:

Start of the first print case study

Nearly having completed our first two case studies at TV-/online-media (Germany’s most popular daily newscast „Tagesschau“ as well as a weekly political talk show), we are very happy to announce that in February we will start our first case study in the print sector at a famous daily national newspaper and its online newsroom. Comparing audience expectations and participation in print and TV journalism will be an interesting task for 2013.

jpub 2.0 to present at the ICA 2013 in London

Yesterday we were informed that our submission for the ICA 2013 conference „Challenging Communication Research“ has been accepted. We hope you will be in London to hear our talk entitled „‚What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!?‘ Comparing attitudes and expectations of journalists and users towards audience participation in news journalism“.

Happy new year to you all, as well!



UPDATE: Our presentation slot at the #ica13 is scheduled for June 21, 12:00pm to 1:15pm, the session is entitled „Participatory Journalism: Reimagining the Role of Audiences and Journalists“. See y’all in London!

Oktober 25th, 2012


As we are currently  presenting and discussing some of our work at the ECREA 2012 conference, we figure that some people might want to check out our project blog for further information. So welcome to you all, here is some useful information about our blog:

  • The blog is mainly in German, partly in English. You can quickly check all English postings here.
  • A short description of our project design can be found here (scroll down for English version).
  • Papers and presentations reporting project findings are collected here.
  • And if you’re on Twitter, don’t forget to follow us: @jpub20team.


September 27th, 2012

Restructuring Newsrooms and Engaging Audiences

Using the example of The Seattle Times, Rachel McAthy illustrates how convergence challenges newsroom organization: The newsroom, formerly divided rather traditionally into a print and an online-department, is now restructured into three teams in charge of different tasks, which comprise functions unsual before the advent of social media:

  • creation of content
  • curation of content
  • community building

“And all three groups fall within the overall focus of ‘increasing engagement’, which Boardman [executive editor and senior vice president of the newspaper] described as the ‘coin of the realm for all news orgnisations’”, McAthy writes.

Journalists trying to engage readers, listeners, viewers and users – that was a common theme in our former posts. As this piece by Amanda Hirsch suggests, communities among journalists may be just as valuable as communities with the audience. In her piece, Hirsch also links to this post by Josh Stearns on ad-hoc journalist support networks. For us at jpub20, one of the core questions is whether social media and the new possibilities for recipients to contact journalists change the relationship between those two groups. One aspect of such a change could be that journalists pay more attention to their audiences’ feedback and start to adapt their journalistic behaviour to that insteasd of following only their colleagues’ advice on how to do things. In this way, social media and other new possibilities of communicating and building networks would reduce journalists‘ traditional in-group orientation (cf. Brake 2009: 35-37). Hirsch’s and Stearns’ articles suggest that they are just as predestined to reinforce it…

Another common theme in past posts related to user engagement was that of having the audience help distribute one’s own journalistic content. Adrienne LaFrance explains how PBS NewsHour is taking this approach to an international level: “Partnering with the translation platform amara, the show is crowdsourcing an effort to add subtitles to politics-themed videos”, LaFrance writes. Most of the subtitles are in Spanish, French or Asian languages but there are some in Turkish, Georgian and (sometimes poor) German, too. The project has only two problems: How tell Spanish, French and other users that these videos exist? And: How control that the subtitles really reproduce the original meaning?

There are also two recently published scientific studies dealing with the notions of restructuring the newsroom and engaging the audience:

María-Ángeles Cabrera-González and Ana-Isabel Bernal-Triviño conducted four case studies on the „Technological development of online media in Latin America“. Their results resemble some of the findings from the journalists’ side of our German case studies: New journalistic roles occur; newsroom processes have to be changed; participation is generally seen positive but has to be managed carefully; audiences can help distribute content, etc. – and all that is conditioned by technology.

Analysing 3.513 reader comments attached to 177 immigration related news articles, Dimitra L. Milioni, Konstantinos Vadratsikas and Venetia Papa investigated whether commenters of Greek online news media „assume textual agency by performing any of the core journalistic functions regarding news production“ (p. 26) – or in other words: whether users try to engage in journalism themselves. The results suggest that they “tend to limit themselves in expressing their opinions on public issues”, but sometimes “challenge journalists’ viewpoints” (p. 41) on the topic of immigration.


August 29th, 2012

Do Those Journalists Have To Be That Innovative?

Innovations and experiments as well as studies concerning audience participation and engagement, use of social media, and transparency in journalism keep on springing up like mushrooms, so that another list of links became unavoidable:

Just today, The Huffington Post launched “Labs”, a site for online journalism experiments. The first project shown on the site also includes audience participation: ‘Highlights’ is a collection of those sentences and quotes in Huffington Post articles that have been highlighted and shared most often by the site’s users.

YouTube will launch a “US elections hub” with partner news outlets. “According to YouTube its news partners, which will provide live and on-demand election coverage to the video platform, include Wall Street Journal and the New York Times”, Rachel McAthy writes on In her post, she also links to the “election tumblr” on which six bloggers will be offering „exclusive coverage of the sights, sounds, personalities, protests, politics, and parties in Tampa and Charlotte“” – Seems like news outlets and social media intertwine even more in election times. Does that mean that audience inclusion is boosted, too?

The Wall Street Journal’s freshly started WorldStream is not about audience participation but about organizing the filing of video material. But by doing that publicly, the journalists’ are also creating transparency. And one could argue that transparency in journalism is nothing but inclusion of the public in journalism as recipients of journalistic processes. Whatever, reading this piece by Adrienne LaFrance, it can be doubted whether WorldStream makes WSJ reporters “video journalists”, like this German site suggests: So far, it is only a collection of (apparently mostly trivial) audiovisual material – and I would argue that not all content published is journalism by default. Perhaps this “transparency campaign” is an attempt to counteract the WSJ’s declining credibility which the Pew Research Center documented earlier this month?

Zeynep Tufekci published an interesting case study of how journalists got the story of Egyptian activist and blogger Alaa Abd-El Fattah’s charges wrong and corrected it afterwards. From that she derives some advantages and shortcomings of traditional as well as social media-based journalism. The story is also an example of a link between transparency (of sources) and audience participation (in fact-checking/verification processes) via social media which proved to be beneficial for the quality (or: “truthfulness”) of this piece of foreign news journalism. Or as Tufekci puts it: “The visibility of the process in social media-based journalism makes it more open to criticism about errors”. But: Tufekci also wonders whether social media are equally open to the distribution of corrections of journalistic content…

Sometimes it becomes more than obvious that the relationship between journalism and social media is not always an easy one: In some cases, social media cannot be used for reporting, in other cases it even keeps reporters from reporting.

Nevertheless, news outlets as well as single journalists frequently wonder how to engage their audience in a way beneficial to them and build communities on their websites and social media profiles. How they really try to do that is a question that is at the heart of our research project. But there are a lot of people thinking about how they should try to do that, e.g. Robert Niles in an older post and Maria Perez in a rather recent one. Engaging the audience is, according to Steve Buttry, also one of 10 ways Twitter is valuable to journalists. I do not know whether the order in which he arranged his collection is of any meaning but in case it is, I better provide it here, as well:

  1. Breaking news
  2. following newsworthy people and orgs
  3. crowdsourcing
  4. search for sources
  5. gather community quotes
  6. story ideas
  7. save time
  8. distribute content (8.???)
  9. continue the conversation
  10. respond to criticism and questions

Chris Kevorkian, chief marketing and digital officer of the Association of Magazine Media (formerly know as “Magazine Publishers of America (MPA)”) seems to be quite positive that magazines manage to engage their readers to a satisfying extent: „‚[M]agazine media readers—on all platforms—are creating communities around and engaging with the magazines and editors they know and love’”, he sum up the results of a study on media consumption among Millennials. You should decide for yourself whether this is a valid interpretation or rather a little far out. But there are definitely some interesting results concerning this question: “Which of the following could be offered by a magazine exclusively for its subscribers on Facebook or Twitter that would add considerable value to a magazine subscription?” Unfortunately, the respondents were neither asked to estimate the value it would add nor could they contribute their own ideas of what “would add considerable value to a magazine subscription”.

Some members of the audience engage a little too much with journalistic media as this interesting piece by Adrianne Jeffries  on a very “special” kind of participation demonstrates: It deals with the hacking of news orgs’ websites and social media profiles in order to post fake stories.

A problem linked to that one which also arises from journalists’ extensive use of the internet is that of their own data’s security. “Keeping your data safe is an essential part of working online.”, the International Journalists’ Network writes on mashable. “Whether you’re a journalist working in dangerous parts of the world or, like Wired‘s Matt Honan, who found his entire online life, hard drive and phone wiped out in an hour by a hacker, it’s time to get serious about your data.” Consequently, the network gathered some tips on that issue from a specialist.