Participatory Journalism abstracts for 2014 AEJMC Conference

From AEJMC’s list of abstracts

Clarifying Journalism’s Quantitative Turn: A Typology for Evaluating Data Journalism, Computational Journalism, and Computer-Assisted Reporting • Mark Coddington, University of Texas at Austin • As quantitative forms have become more prevalent in professional journalism, it has become increasingly important to classify and distinguish between them. This paper defines and compares three quantitative forms of journalism — computer-assisted reporting, data journalism, and computational journalism — and introduces a four-part typology to evaluate their epistemological and professional dimensions. The three practices are characterized as related but distinct approaches to integrating the values of open-source culture and social science with those of professional journalism.

Gender, social cue and interactivity in social media: Investigation of journalists’ social media use and credibility • Rosie Jahng, Hope College; Jeremy Littau, Lehigh University • This study examined the effect of social cues and interactivity in social media on journalists’ credibility based on literature of journalists’ credibility, social information processing theory (SIPT) and social presence theory. Results from a mixed-design experiment showed participants rated highly interactive journalists to be more credible than those who are less interactive in social media. Also, participants showed higher intention to engage and more positive attitude toward highly interactive journalists than less interactive journalists. Results are discussed in terms of theoretical implications for journalists’ credibility in social media, and practical applications for journalists seeking to utilize social media to engage with their audiences.

Exploring the Role of Political Discussion in Political Participation: Online versus Offline • Soo Yun Kim, University of Wisconsin-Madison • Widespread use of the Internet have lead to new forms of interpersonal communication, with a vast potential to reach young and geographically dispersed citizens; expanding earlier citizen communication habits that may not be reflected in the traditional media; and create new opportunities for citizens to form networks and take action to address many issues directly. Citizens now indeed have the advantage of technical proficiency in the online environments to facilitate their engagements with online political discussion and civic activities. Given that the dynamic nature of interpersonal political discussion as mobilizing force in politics is explicitly demonstrated in previous studies, this study takes a step further by exploring each of political participation activities one by one instead of using political participation as a single index. In addition, this study explores which of political discussion setting (i.e., offline vs. online) strongly predict political participation (i.e., offline and SNS). This study found that both online and offline political discussion was significant predictor for offline political participation and SNS political participation respectively.

Working together: Sharing as an emergent newsroom norm • Magda Konieczna • The economic crisis in news media has deepened and the internet has enabled greater interaction between producers of information. At the same time, the United States in particular has experienced dramatic growth of nonprofit news organizations, many of which base their newsroom processes on collaboration. This article uses participant observation to examine collaborative behaviors at three nonprofit news organizations. I use the data to illustrate three observations: 1) Collaboration actually breaks into four different types of behavior. 2) Collaborative behaviors, while differentiating nonprofits from commercial journalism from which they arose, also tie them into that same commercial structure. 3) Finally, I show how the type of collaboration imprints the collaborating organization. These results suggest that collaborative behaviors between nonprofits and the commercial media are an extension of past but frequently unacknowledged collaborative behaviors between traditional news organizations. And, finally, they suggest that editors have become increasingly comfortable with news coming from a broad range of sources.

Reciprocity and the News: The role of personal and social media reciprocity in news creation and consumption • Avery Holton, University of Utah; Mark Coddington, University of Texas at Austin; Seth Lewis, University of Minnesota; Homero Gil de Zuniga, University of Vienna • This study asks: As journalists and audiences increasingly interact via social spaces online, what role might reciprocity, as a key driver within online communities, play in stimulating audiences’ consumption and creation of content, including news content? A national survey finds that, while personal beliefs in reciprocity predict news consumption, it is reciprocity on social media that is associated not only with news consumption, but also with content creation, both for news and in general.

What’s in a Name? Making a Case for Collaborative Journalism • Shawn McIntosh, Columbia University • Definitions of terms such as participatory journalism and other variants reflect a need to clarify conceptually what some of the underlying transformational dynamics are in journalism today. I argue that the term collaborative journalism is best equipped to reframe the debate, avoiding the conceptual blind spots shared by these other terms, and will help us better understand changing journalistic norms and practices that can lead to a more active citizenry in the networked public sphere.

Democratic Mobilization through #Gosnell: Twitter as Public Sphere and Realm of the FIfth Estate • Michael Jezewak, Loyola Marymount University; Gwyneth Mellinger, Xavier University • The national news media’s initial failure to cover the criminal case of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell triggered an activist response on Twitter. Using the hashtag #Gosnell, pro-life and pro-choice advocates debated the newsworthiness of the case and drew the national media’s attention to the trial. In addition to resetting the media agenda, #Gosnell constructed a Habermasian public sphere and, per Hallin’s theory, redefined an issue of deviance as a matter of legitimate controversy.

The Social News System: Examining the Relationship between Psychological Sense of Community, Social Network Site Use, and News Sharing Behaviors • Natalie Olsen, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities • News has long been understood as central to community functioning and a healthy democratic society. As community and news engagement transition to online venues, research must examine this relationship within social media. This study proposes and tests a new theoretical model that enables us to identify the roles that overall news consumption, SNS perceptions and behaviors, and PSOC play (both directly and indirectly) in encouraging audience members to share news stories on social network sites.

Framing citizen activism: A comparative study of the CGNET Swara and Mobile Voices projects • Paromita Pain, The University of Texas at Austin • The CGNET Swara (India) and Mobile Voices (United States) demonstrate that dedicated citizen journalism outlets can effectively combine journalism and activism to mobilize communities for positive social impact. Few studies have compared citizen journalism effects in the area of mobilization across countries, in multi-cultural settings, especially in the developed and developing world. This paper compares and contrasts conceptual frames employed and approaches pursued in fundamentally different settings to examine how citizen media works for progressive change.

reddit and the Boston Bombings: The Entextualization of a Witch-Hunt • Noah Springer, University of Colorado, Boulder • The social news website www.reddit.com played an instrumental role in the release of the suspects of the bombings during the Boston Marathon in April, 2012. This paper provides a linguistic analysis of how reddit identified the wrong suspects in the case, and examines how redditors “entextualized” this content in order to determine the meaning of how reddit users identified and prosecuted an innocent man. Specifically, this paper first examines various understandings of digital media, including Marshall McLuhan’s “global village,” Donna Haraway’s “cyborg,” and Jürgen Habermas’s “public sphere.” I then explore the various “entextualizations” of the Boston bombing case within reddit, specifically looking at how the decontextualization and recontextualization of the tragedy created room for a performative self-critique within the site. I conclude with a brief discussion of how the discourse surrounding the events in Boston show how reddit functions and fails to function as a global village, cyborg and public sphere.

Hyperlocal with a mission; Motivation, strategy, and civic function • Marco Van Kerkhoven, Utrecht, School of Journalism; Klaus Schoenbach; Piet Bakker, Utrecht School of Journalism • Independent online news start-ups seem to gain ground in local news ecosystems. To what extend they demonstrate to be a sustainable asset remains to be seen. Based on content analyses of 123 local news websites and 74 interviews with owners of these so-called hyperlocals in the Netherlands, we explored their motivation, their editorial and organisational strategy, and how hyperlocals effectuate their civic function in the community. Results indicate that the motivation to start a local online news website is for the better part grounded in the perception of a local news gap. But we also found sites predominantly motivated by commercial objectives. In all cases a common business strategy, however, is owners operating the service on a “no-staff, no-budget” basis. Most sites rely on banner advertising. Crowd funding has been tried on a small scale. In terms of strategy and claimed civic role there are only few differences between ideologically non-profit hyperlocals and commercial chains. But many sites underperform in terms of efficient use of resources, attracting readers and advertisers and the way they connect with sources and audiences. The sustainability of local news websites, therefore, is far from secured.

Self-Governance on Trial: A Public Sphere Analysis of News Website Forum Comments • David Wolfgang, University of Missouri • The online public sphere offers an opportunity to pursue self-governance through rational-critical discourse. This article studies two online news forums and the types of content produced based on the structure of the forum. Ultimately, forums allowing pseudonyms led to comments with more reasoned positions and use of supporting facts. However, neither the pseudonymous nor identified forums included constructive dialogue. News forums might need to restructure in order to promote consensus building and constructive dialogue.

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