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2009 Research Papers

Below are the peer-reviewed research papers that were selected for presentation for the second day of the symposium event. Listed in alphabetic order.

Web Production, News Judgment, and Emerging Categories of Online Newswork in Metropolitan Journalism (*)
by Chris Anderson
This paper documents a new form of news work that has emerged in online newsrooms (what I call web production) as well as the conflicting set of variables that are turning the news judgments of these workers towards a greater and greater focus on quantitative metrics of audience behavior. Emphasizing that web production is a form of newswork that transcends institutional - deinstitutional boundaries, I define the work as the aggregation, prioritization, inter-linking, and bundling of web content. Web production is particularly common in journalistic networks where pieces of content are composed and submitted by producers at the ends of the news network. The news judgments of these web producers stand in marked contrast from the judgments described by Herbert Gans and other media sociologists from the "golden age" of newsroom ethnography, and can be seen as centering around a new vision of the audience amongst online journalists. I documented at three major trends documenting a dramatically different relationship between digital journalists - particularly web producers - and their online readership. There has rhetorical shift within the news industry towards the notion of the "active, creative audience," an increased prevalence of technologies that allowed for the quantitative measurement of audience to an untold degree, and management strategies that emphasized the widespread diffusion of audience metrics. These developments have culminated in shifting patterns of news judgment amongst online web producers and other digital newsworkers. In short, the traditional journalistic values of autonomy and professional cultures of "writing for other journalists" are being overtaken by a focus on raw audience data and what I call a "culture of the click." The paper argues that further research is needed to determine (1) the degree to which an organizational culture is emerging within online newsrooms to counteract or soften this click mentality, and (2), the exact relationship between technological, organizational, economic, and cultural factors in the development of this new news judgment.
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Online Journalism: Reflections from a Political Economy of Communication Perspective (*)
by Cèsar Bolaño
Digitalization is a new technical paradigm, restructuring media economics by a complex movement of convergence that destabilizes consolidated markets and guarantees the constitution of specific production patterns. It is the case of on line journalism, studied here from the perspective of the political economy of communication, information and culture.
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State policy and news websites in China (*)
by Dong Han and Ying Zhang
The rise and popularity of news websites is a significant phenomenon in the growth of Internet, as well as for the development of news media, in China. News websites, in Chinese, xinwei wangzhan, are basically websites that carry news stories for net surfers to read. Names of top news websites, like Sina.com or People's Net, are big names in Chinese Internet. Surveys conducted by governmental agencies and research institutions show that one of the most important things that Chinese net surfers do is to read news stories online, and China's online news reviewers totaled 234 million by the end of 2008 (CNNIC, 1997-2009). News websites in China are generally regarded as faster, more informative than newspaper and television news sources. Top-rank news websites boast of millions of visits per day. Their influence rise quickly vis-à-vis "traditional" media. The growth of news websites in China raises two questions at the same time. First, when Internet is believed by some to have liberalizing power for Chinese political and social life (Tai, 2006), how do news websites contribute to a freer press system and a more informed public? Do news websites, relying on the new networking technology, bring about more diversified news sources and provide Chinese people more opportunities to learn about political and public affairs? Second, news media in the People's Republic of China are always understood as under tight control of the party-state and are propaganda apparatus. Does the popularity of online news services, using a technology presumably decentralized, challenge the central control over information under the old system? These questions motivate the research for this article. Unfortunately, we do not arrive at optimistic conclusions.
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Framing Differences in Gender-Related Sport Coverage by Internet Sites and Newspapers (*)
by Edward (Ted) M. Kian
The primary purpose of this study was to determine if any significant differences existed between the gender-specific descriptors used in sport content in traditional newspapers and online sport journalism sites, the latter of which are becoming an increasingly popular primary source of news information. Specifically, this study examined media framing of athletes by analyzing descriptors in articles on the 2007 U.S. Open men's and women's tennis tournaments published in mainstream newspapers, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and USA Today, and the online sport news sites produced by ESPN, Fox Sports, and Sports Illustrated. Results showed newspaper articles were more likely to minimize the athleticism of female athletes and delve into their personal lives, thus re-enforcing and strengthening hegemonic masculinity stronger far more than the newer medium of online journalism, which produced mixed results.
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Thinking about Citizen Journalism: Perspectives on Participatory News Production at Community Newspapers (*)
by Seth C. Lewis, Kelly Kaufhold, Dominic L. Lasorsa
This study seeks to understand how community newspaper editors negotiate the professional challenges posed by citizen journalism - a phenomenon that, even in the abstract, would appear to undermine their gatekeeping control over content. Through interviews with 29 small-newspaper editors in Texas, we find that some editors either favor or disfavor the use of citizen journalism primarily on philosophical grounds, while others favor or disfavor its use mainly on practical grounds. This paper presents a mapping of these philosophical vs. practical concerns as a model for visualizing the conflicting impulses at the heart of a larger professional debate over the place and purpose of user-generated content. Moreover, these findings are viewed in light of gatekeeping, which, we argue, offers a welcome point of entry for the study of participatory media production as it evolves at news organizations large and small alike.
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Readers' Comments to Online Editorials as a Space of Public Deliberation (*)
by Edith Manosevitch and Dana Walker
This paper proposes that looking specifically at one kind of interactive feature, the readers' comments section to online opinion journalism, provides a unique and constructive space for public discourse. Drawing primarily on Gastil's (2008) conceptual definition of deliberative public conversation, our work offers an operational definition of deliberation that can be applied to online reader comments. Using content analysis, we apply this operational definition to a sample of readers' comments posted within the opinion pages of two major regional American newspapers. The pilot analysis provides insight into how public deliberation may manifest itself within the context of readers' comments, the dimensions of deliberation that are more likely to be present in this context, and directions for further research.
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The Loud Public: Readers' Comments in Online News Media (*)
by Na'ama Nagar
The users' comments feature refers to the ability of readers to express their opinions on news reports, opinion pieces, journalists' blogs, and any other content available on the site. In essence everyone with an Internet access can 'talk back' to reporters and to each other on high-profile issues. For the purpose of this paper I use the term 'talkbacks' to refer to users' comments in news sites. This paper has two goals: 1) to examine how do editors perceive talk-backs, and 2) to inquire whether talkbacks inuence the media agenda. The empirical evidence consists of semi-structured interviews with online editors. At the moment the study includes news sites in Israel and the U.K
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Technology, Physical Organization, and Spatial Culture in the Transforming Newsroom (*)
by Sue Robinson
This research delves into the spatial dynamics of the changes in relation to the transforming workplace culture. An ethnography of a hybrid newsroom and depth interviews with journalists in transitioning places comprised the method; an understanding of the relationships and interactions of journalists in their physical, virtual and symbolic spaces informed the analysis. Two main findings emerged: 1) Technology, acting as both liberator and albatross, has taken on corporeal form, referred to in spatial terms and even replacing news workers such as photographers in some newsrooms. And 2) Despite the best efforts of journalists to instill textual-style boundaries in this new world, spatially sporadic digital newsrooms are forming that are inhospitable to old-world reporters and traditional concepts of news work and news products. As a result the expectations and assumptions within newsroom hierarchy are having to evolve, and news "homes" now represent a place for the process of journalism to take place, as much as for the product itself to live.

Lost in the Ashes: A Case Study Demonstrating the Importance of Embracing the Share Economy for Environmental and Scientific Journalism(*)
by J. Richard Stevens
Due to the economic downturn in the American market, many U.S. news organizations are unable to perform their social role at the previous scope and scale, and have reduced staffing, coverage and services to their consumers. Specialty beats like science and environmental reporting have been hit particularly hard, and some national news organizations (such as CNN) have cut such specialty beats entirely. On December 22, 2008, floodwaters breached a retention pond wall at a power plant managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority, releasing a large mixture of water and fly ash. Though the event would eventually be called "largest environmental disaster of its kind in U.S. history" and would be rated as "50 times worse that Exxon Valdez," national media were slow to report the events or their implications, despite extensive coverage of local media and bloggers. This paper examines the limiting factors of 20th Century competitive culture and argues that one of the biggest challenges facing national media properties in regards to the civic function of surveillance is their unwillingness to adapt to the "share economy" utilized by new media approaches to journalism. Consulting classic research literature discussing the motivational and performance differences between cultures of competition and collaboration, the paper suggest a change in culture will be vital for existing news media to survive the new media revolution.
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When the Crowd Doesn't See the Value: Crowdsourcing, Citizen Journalism, and the Cultural Production of Local Online News (*)
by Shayla Thiel-Stern
Much of the early discussion about citizen journalism and crowdsourcing, the Poynter pieces included, tended to look at how traditional news organizations could harness the power of these two reporting methods to enhance their relationships with readers and ultimately, foster the democratic potential of citizen journalism (Gillmor, 2006; Gillmor & Bowman, 2003). Others disparaged the practice and questioned ethical and quality issues associated with the practice (Edmonds, 2005; Keen, 2008), often urging the traditional news organizations to steer clear of full-blown collaborative reporting between journalist and audience. However, much of the discussion tends to ignore questions about any potential cultural and financial value of citizen journalism - particularly from the audience standpoint. For example, what do citizens gain from contributing to the reporting process through citizen journalism? How does an individual audience member suggesting sources or alternate angles to reporters through an interactive crowdsourcing process? Finally, can it be determined whether audience members acting as citizen journalists feel their contribution to newsgathering and reporting enhances the monetary value of the final news product? In other words, if they are doing a bulk of the work, will they still pay for the work? Or will they value the contribution in more abstract, non-monetary ways? Keeping in mind these questions, this case study seeks to illuminate the role and value of the cultural production of citizen journalism as it works within two local online news sites.
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Taking the Paper out of News: A Case Study of Taloussanomat, Europe's First Online-only Newspaper (**)
by Neil Thurman and Merja Myllylahti
Using in-depth interviews, newsroom observation, and internal documents, this case-study presents and analyses changes that have taken place at Finnish financial daily Taloussanomat since it stopped printing on 28 December 2007 to focus exclusively on digital delivery via the web, email, and mobile. It reveals the savings that can be achieved when a newspaper no longer prints and distributes a physical product; but also the revenue lost from subscriptions and print advertising. The consequences of a newspaper's decision to go online-only are examined as they relate to its business model, website traffic, and editorial practice. The findings: illustrate the extent to which the medium rather than the content it carries determines news consumption patterns, show the differing attention a newspaper and its online substitute command, and reveal the changes to working patterns journalists can expect in the online-only environment.
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Preprint version of article - free to download (pdf):

UGC Status and Levels of Control in Argentine, Colombian, Mexican, Peruvian, Portuguese, Spanish, US and Venezuelan Online Newspapers (*)
by Elvira García de Torres et al.
In this paper we present a comparative analysis of UGC status and levels of control in 24 quality online mainstream newspapers from Argentine, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, Spain, US and Venezuela. The study addresses the conditions in which users provide content, in terms of constraint, and the recognition given by mainstream media to the users' activity. "Participatory journalism" is defined as the evolving materialization of an increase in message interchange activity between producers and consumers in two dimensions: content and relationship.
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(*) Refereed research papers (blind reviewed).
(**) Top rated paper.

Below are papers that were presented during the symposium event by some of the panelists. Listed in alphabetic order.

The Use of Video Journalism and Other Types of Copyrighted Video in Teaching Journalism
by Loreto Corredoira y Alfonso and Rodrigo Cetina Presuel
The Internet offers many media possibilities and its use by Professors as a tool for education has become widespread. As costs drop, initiatives using Video on Demand for educative purposes are appearing in Universities in Europe around the world. This type of channels, when teaching Journalism may use User Generated Content videos, copyrighted video content such as films, or examples of online video journalism produced by professionals. All types of video content, including, of course, film and online video journalism content are generally subject to copyright. The use of content on the Internet, and on VOD channels specifically, involves many risks, even when used by Professors and in Universities. One of such risks is in infringing copyright and author's moral rights. Usually, this is not due to voluntary infringement by the Professors, but as a result of the current Legislation not being accurate, clear or realistic regarding the fair use of copyrighted works. VOD channels show particularities regarding the use of copyrighted works in terms of the limits and exceptions to Intellectual Property Rights established in the European Union and Spanish Legislations. Analyzing examples of VOD and current Legislation, this paper focuses on what a VOD channel for teaching Journalism that uses copyrighted content can and can't do, and what types of content they can or can't use, without infringing copyright.
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Creating an Index to Calculate the Level of Convergence of a Medium
by Manuel Gago Mariño, Moisés Limia Fernández, Carlos Toural Bran, Xosé López García, Teresa de la Hera Conde-Pumpido and Xosé Pereira Fariña
Since the end of 1990's, media are undergoing great changes brought by digital technology, with the objective to optimize resources and enrich contents. The concept of convergence has a relevant significance in this process. We see the convergence as an integrating process of traditional separated media outlets and modes of communication that affect business, technology, professionals, and audiences at all stages of production, delivery, and consumption of contents of any kind (information, entertainment, and advertising). This paper provides a methodological tool for calculating an index over which reflects the level of convergence of a medium. This proposal, fruit of the work of a collective research project -which is currently carried out by a numerous group of Spanish scholars with public funding (see for details our website www.infotendencias.com/objetivos)-, is based on the following variables: relationships among newsrooms, media polyvalence, type of collaboration on contents development, and type of contents delivery.
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From Gatekeeper to Social Partner: Citizen Journalism and the Journalist in Web 2.0 Participatory Environment in Brazil
by Elizabeth Saad Corrêa and Francisco Madureira
Considering the initial stage of our academic study, still under development , we present here preliminary data about the status of participatory journalism on initiatives undertaken by the mass media of information on the Brazilian web. The assumption, obtained with the qualitative analysis of data collected in this research, is that the leading portals in the country have not still been able to adopt the participatory journalism in the depth and breadth of experience reported by authors such as Brambilla , Bruns and Gillmor.
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Why Should we Expect Worlds to Collide? A Case Study Analysis of "Jornal de Notícias" and its Strategic Production Changes
by Luís Antonio Santos and Manuel Pinto
no abstract is available
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Setting guidelines on how to design the news online: An analysis of the Portuguese online newspapers and their Spanish, Argentinian and Brazilian counterparts
by Nuno Vargas
Over a decade has passed since the beginning of online journalism and online newspapers. Online newspapers have become large media engines with permanent accessible information. Their audiences, in most cases, surpasses their printed versions by a reasonable margin. Having this amount of users accessing the news via the online newspaper version is a reality that could not be predicted ten years ago. Nevertheless there is not an established validation process on how should the news be presented to the users on this new media. There is still a lack of in-depth studies regarding the manner on which the various levels of information are presented to the users. As far as newspapers are concerned this knowledge gap could be linked to the rapid evolution of the media and the technologic changes that have occurred during this period. Thus, it becomes extremely difficult for the people involved, namely journalists, developers and designers, to establish which decisions would be considered appropriate when displaying the news online.
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University of Texas at Austin | Moody College of Communication | School of Journalism | Knight Center Journalism in the Americas