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.

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.

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