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2010 Research Papers

Below are the blind peer-reviewed research papers that were selected for presentation for the symposium event. Listed in alphabetic order. Top Rated Research Paper will be announced at the event.

Principles of Journalistic Symmetry: Building News Networks Before and After the “Publication” of News
by Chris Anderson
This paper argues that particular realities of today’s journalistic ecosystem– primarily the institutional breakdown of historically powerful media organizations and an increasing journalistic reliance on a variety of new technological artifacts– should lead researchers to supplement the traditional sociology of news paradigm that has emphasized the social construction of news and the unproblematic, routinized production of news stories. I argue we should extend organizational and framing research both forward and backward in both space and time. It would encourage us to concentrate on the means by which media organizations and ecosystems are assembled, as well as the way media outputs and "news objects" coordinate socio-technical action as well as engage in the framing of social reality. I elaborate this argument via an analysis of the Republican National Convention Independent Media Center, drawing on 8 years of participant-observation at one of the earliest online journalism and "citizen's media" organizations in the world. This analysis marks as a preliminary attempt to demonstrate the intersection between journalistic products (what we have traditionally called news "stories") organizational assemblage, and audience coordination.
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Outlining New Paths to Democracy: A Profile of Online Content Creators and its Effects on Political and Civic Participation
by Ingrid Bachmann, Teresa Correa and Homero Gil de Zúñiga
The Internet has allowed digital media users to be more that just consumers. Using data from U.S. adults, this study examines the socio-demographic and psychological characteristics of online content creators and the effects for the political and civic domains. Results show that income and age are negatively correlated with content creation, as well as emotional stability and life satisfaction, while extraversion was positively related. Further, online content creation was a positive predictor of political participation and civic engagement, even after controlling for demographics, psychological factors, media use and trust, suggesting a positive effect of content creation on participatory practices.

Is the Internet 'Europeanizing' or 'Americanizing' Global Journalism? An Analysis of the Form of Online and Print Newspapers in Denmark, France and the U.S
by Rodney Benson, Matthew Powers, Sandra Vera, Ida Willig and Mark Orsten
This study examines the extent to which media system differences in print newspapers (neo-lberal U.S., polarized pluralist France, and democratic corporatist Denmark) are preserved online or whether the shift to online is leading to cross-media system convergence, either toward a more commercial/informational style journalism or a more deliberative/commentary-oriented journalism. Quantitative analysis of the "form of news" shows: U.S. and French newspapers, moving from print to online, become more commercialized, more localized, and more "light" news oriented, while also shifting, if only slightly, toward more opinion, deliberation, and non-journalistic voices. Nevertheless, both online and print, U.S.-French differences remain, and Danish newspapers, surprisingly, tend to be the most commercialized and information-oriented. Findings thus support both "medium" and "media system" hypotheses.
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Multimedia and Interactivity on Newspaper Websites: A Multi-Study Analysis of Seven English-Speaking Countries
by Robert Bergland, Lisa Crawford, Sarah Noe and David Hon
Each country has its own history of journalism. That history, coupled with economic, political and social forces, has shaped its industry and print product, from ownership to writing to editing to layout. Just as print journalism is not the same across cultural and geographic boundaries, so too has online journalism taken different forms in different countries because of a variety of factors. The purpose of this paper is threefold: to provide a snapshot of the current state of online journalism in several countries, to examine differences between countries and to discuss possible reasons for the differences. To accomplish this task, we conducted multiple content analysis studies covering multimedia and interactive features in daily newspapers in the U.S., Canada, England/Scotland/Ireland, New Zealand and Australia.
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Models of Restraint: The Adoption of Blogging Software by the U.S. Broadcast News Networks
by Joshua A. Braun
News organizations are masters at managing the division between front stage and back stage. Broadcast news networks are deliberate and strategic about who appears on camera and who works behind the scenes, the content that appears on the air and what’s left on the cutting room floor. But the turn to blogs as an element of their online reporting has introduced new forms of interactivity, where audience feedback is not merely received, but actually included as part of their online presence in the form of comment threads and discussion board posts. Managing this unruly torrent of user feedback has proven a practical and an ideological challenge for these organizations, long steeped in a tradition of one-way communication. In response to this challenge, each of the networks has adopted unique technologies, policies, and moderation strategies in an attempt to limit their legal exposure from user-provided content, and to embrace the new demand for interactivity while also maintaining the front-stage/backstage division on which the credibility and authority of journalistic institutions so often depends. All this raises a number of interesting questions. As journalistic institutions engage more and more fully in interactive online spaces, how are these tensions changing journalism itself? How do the technical systems and moderation strategies put in place shape the contours of the news, and how do these journalistic institutions make sense of these systems and strategies as part of their public mission? What is the role of audiences and publics in this new social and technical space? And how do journalistic institutions balance their claim to be "town criers" and voices for the public with the fact that their authority and continued legal standing depend at times on moderating, and even silencing the voices of individuals?
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Hosting the Public Discourse: Gatekeepers, Digital Intermediaries, and the Politics of Making Newsmedia Social
by Joshua A. Braun, Tarleton Gillespie
In this paper, we will examine the inverse and converging movement of two sets of institutions: news organizations, as they find that part of their mission necessarily includes hosting an unruly user community that doesn't always play by the norms of journalism; and online media platforms and social networks designed for users to share content, finding that the content being shared is often a form of news, some of which challenges their established user guidelines. We draw on a range of in-depth interviews to understand how each industry is finding itself in the other's turf, and facing the challenges and tensions the other has long coped with, but from its own distinct vantage point. From this we will explore the ways in which the roles of news provision and community management are increasingly intermingled–in ways that will continue to have an impact on both news organizations and digital intermediaries, along with their audiences and users.
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Plugged in: Predicting podcast audiences and their political participation
by Monica Chadha, Alex Avila and Homero Gil de Zúñiga
Very little research is available on podcast users and their role within democratic societies. Internet use for news have been shown to increase political engagement, which often leads to increased political participation both, offline and online. Other forms of digital and user-generated media such as blogs and other forms of citizen-journalism with the same political framework have also been the focus of academic study. Nevertheless, the emerging world of podcasting remains outside this realm. Based on U.S. national data, results lend support to the notion that increased podcast use leads to political participation even when controlling for other media forms. This paper identifies unique demographic predictors for those likely to be podcast listeners.

Exploring new journalistic platforms; experiences of Turkish Journalist Bloggers
by Pinar Gurleyen and Perrin Ogun Emre
This paper examines how weblogs, as new platforms of journalism, contribute to the transformation of professional journalism in theory and in practice. Drawing on the previous arguments that suggest the necessity of a reform and even a paradigm shift in journalism, this research focuses on a specific type of blog; those produced by the professional journalists outside media organizations. We look in particular at how journalist bloggers negotiate traditional norms of journalism such as objectivity or practices like gate-keeping with intrinsic characteristics of the blog format such as subjectivity and audience participation.
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Revealing the cutting agenda through Egyptian Blogs: an empirical study
by Nagwa Abdel Salam Fahmy
Blogging in Egypt is an evolving phenomenon, and it is considered a weapon against the restricted flow of information enforced by the government. This empirical study aims to help better understand blogs role in reporting stories that were cut from traditional media outlets. It applied the agenda-cutting approach and focuses on blogs tools to express news credibility and exclusivity. It is based on an analysis of Al Wa'y Al Masri blog during 2009. The findings suggest that the Egyptian blogosphere plays an effective role in reporting news stories not reported elsewhere. Those exclusive stories were related to government abuse, as the blogs are considered the main source of such information.
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The Expanding Boundaries of Non-Commercial U.S. Community Radio: New Spaces for Online Journalism
by Dean Graber
As more communities become licensed to build and operate non-commercial, citizen-produced radio stations, and as more stations engage in producing local news and public affairs programs, new spaces for non-commercial news will emerge, on the air and online. While it has been common for such stations to be presented as examples of "alternative media" in local communities, this study suggests that the current emphasis on "citizen journalism" makes it appropriate to discuss community radio as a vehicle through which members of local communities might not only gain a voice in the local public sphere (a commonly repeated though vague and clichéd explanation), but more specifically how participation in community radio news and public affairs programming can be explored as an assertion of the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of citizenship.
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All The News That’s Fit To Pay For Online: The Case for a Modified News Micropayment Model on the Social Web
by Geoffrey M. Graybeal and Jameson L. Hayes
This theoretical paper explores the idea of small, per-article payments, which can be as low as a penny or less, for the news industry. The paper examines existing academic and industry literature on micropayments, as well as explores underlying theories in media management and economics, marketing, behavioral economics, sociology, computer information systems and mass communication. The authors propose a “Modified News Micropayment Model” that contains four primary drivers that make the idea of micropayments a feasible and attractive idea for news industries in the Social Web environment--- socialization/sharing, a microearn component, local focus and a centralized banking system. The model is presented and discussed, and future directions for research offered.
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Wikifying the CBC: Reimagining the remit of public service media
by Alfred Hermida and Amanda Ash
This paper examines the adoption of a social collaborative knowledge system within the context of public service broadcasting in the 21st century. It takes a case study approach to examine the development and creation of a wiki on Canadian music by Canada’s public broadcaster, the CBC. This study explores the application of social media technologies within established media organizations, and specifically within the role and remit of Canada’s public service broadcaster.
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Be a journalist within the French regional press at the Web age
by Maria Holubowicz
The French regional daily newspapers have been family businesses for a long time. Much smaller that the German or British press companies, they suffered from a chronic undercapitalization and from insufficient profits that slowed down their modernization. The arrival of the big media groups in the sector since the 70s (the Hersant group then the Hachette group) with their more rigorous management methods, and the concentration which followed in the regional press meant rationalizing the functioning of those companies. However, it turns out that, faced with competition from free newspapers (which nibbled at the overall advertising revenue), and with regional press readership becoming older, and the general decline of newspaper sales, these consolidation efforts were insufficient. (Martin, on 2002) The technological revolution, which, thanks to "telematic" tools then the internet, allowed multiple sources for regional and local information, also affected French regional press sector, which, until then, had been relatively preserved in comparison to the national print media. Therefore today, thanks to these factors, regional daily papers (presse quotidienne régionale - PQR) need to reinvent themselves to face up to an uncertain future, for which there is no long-term viable economic model.
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Professional Journalism, UGC, and Freedom of Expression
by Arne Krumsvik
The Internet enables journalists to communicate directly with their readers on a scale previously unheard of, but few journalists see this as something to cheer for. This analysis of how Norwegian newspapers have dealt with the problems and opportunities of user generated content (UGC) will explore how considerations of media management and the professional norms of journalism are aligned in a joint interest in not using the new opportunities to their full extent.
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News Consumption Revisited: Examining the Power of Habits in the 21st Century
by Angela M. Lee and Michael X. Delli Carpini
The Internet’s ability to revolutionize journalism has long been examined and contested. From an Audience Studies perspective, one central question arises—Does the Internet promote different kinds of news consumption behaviors online? This study suggests that habits are one of the predominate factors influencing offline news consumption behaviors, and that habits are shaped by the larger media environment with which one grew up in (i.e., One who grew up in the era where print newspapers dominated the media landscape will remain print newspaper readers in adulthood). More importantly, that people’s online news consumption behaviors largely mirror their offline news consumption habits (i.e., newspaper readers predominately visit newspaper websites). Habitual news consumption calls into question the myth of news information democratization in the 21st century, and suggests that the future of the news industry can be revived by cultivating desirable news consumption habits among adolescents.
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The Logic of Journalism Innovation: The Case of the Knight News Challenge
by Seth Lewis
At a time of great disruption for traditional modes of reporting the news and subsidizing it, the Knight Foundation and its News Challenge contest have played an outsized role in setting the agenda for journalism innovation by funding a number of well-publicized startups and initiatives. This study sought to understand how these “news innovators” are approaching their work: namely, in their perceptions and practices, how are they negotiating issues of professional control vs. amateur participation? I develop the concepts professional logic and participatory logic as a way of understanding a central tension for 21st century journalism. Through qualitative interviews with select Knight News Challenge winners, I found that news innovators see journalism less as a proprietary profession to be protected and more as an open-source practice to be shared. Moreover, by rendering unproblematic the professional-participatory tension, news innovators can “pull apart” journalism to preserve its best principles while discarding outmoded practices, all while embracing new norms of community engagement and collective intelligence. However, this study also discusses the challenges that have made realizing these goals difficult in practice, raising questions about the sustainability of news innovations at a delicate time for journalism.

An Evaluation of Wikipedia’s Statistical Health Indicators
by Andrew Lih
Wikipedia is an Internet-based, collaboratively edited encyclopedia that has risen since 2003 to become the fifth most visited Web site in the world (Comscore, 2009). With over 3 million English language articles, it has become an indispensable part of the Internet as both a broad-based reference and continuously updated news source. Wikipedia had been experiencing exponential growth since its founding, but statistics in the first quarter of 2007 indicated article production started to slowdown for the first time in its history. Analysis of this phenomenon was complicated by the lack of accurate statistics about Wikipedia’s database as it became too large to make a backup “dump” in a format that could be analyzed by researchers. With the recent availability of full database downloads there has been a new round of research undertaken. This paper examines Wikipedia’s English language article production and user community statistics, and does a comparative study of research efforts by Palo Alto Research Center, academic groups, and the community itself into the decline in Wikipedia’s metrics. We discuss the proper methodologies for measuring peer-production and the added complications of calculating “departure” of members from online volunteer communities through survival analysis. We consider what these numbers may mean for the Wikipedia community, and how this affects maintainability of the articles over time.
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Methods for mapping hyperlink networks: Examining the environment of Belgian news websites
by Juliette de Maeyer
This research is an attempt at mapping data retrieved from news websites in order to find one’s bearings in the ever-growing complexity of the informational landscape. It posits that drawing maps of the hyperlinks networks in which news websites are entangled will shed new light on the web-based media outlets, by revealing an otherwise concealed dimension of online news. The paper focuses mostly on conceptual foundations and methodological issues, grounded into exploratory attempts of mapping and describing hyperlinks found within selected webpages. It will emphasize a thorough discussion of key concepts and methods exploring: (1) why map? ; (2) why map hyperlinked environments? ; (3) why map the hyperlinked environment of news websites? Questions are raised regarding the nature of links in the context of journalism, and the conception of hyperlink as adding journalistic value to the news website content.
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The “Black’s Wheel”: a technique to develop hypermedia narratives
by Maria Laura Martinez and Sueli Mara S.P. Ferreira
This work presents a technique for the nonlinear narratives project that can be applied to the development of special hypermedia reports and aims at facilitating nonlinear content design with user focus. This technique, called “The Black’s Wheel”, has been applied since 2005 in many web projects in undergraduate online journalism that has proved its applicability as a case study. This technique has been improved by the experience accumulated over time.
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Comments in News, Democracy Booster or Journalistic Nightmare: Assessing the Quality and Dynamics of Citizen Debates in Catalan Online Newspapers
by Javier Díaz Noci, David Domingo, Pere Masip, Josep Lluís Micó, and Carles Ruiz
This study takes a critical and normative standpoint regarding public debate in order to approach the analysis of comments in news. Beyond the hype of discourses welcoming Web 2.0 as the rebirth of direct democracy, we argue for a performative analysis of online conversations in order to assess the actual quality of the debates promoted by participatory journalism. Several scholars have pointed out that the Internet fosters communication, but not necessarily fruitful political debate (Sunstein, 2002; Lin et al., 2005). We use normative principles based on the work of Habermas (1984) as a demanding benchmarking ground for comments in news. We believe this is a necessary step towards a rigorous assessment of user-generated content
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The Journalist as Programmer: A Case Study of The New York Times Interactive News Technology Department
by Cindy Royal
Modern news organizations are using a variety of technologies to assist in telling stories in ways that increasingly combine media, data and user engagement. The New York Times is one of the most progressive of these organizations in developing online, data-driven interactive news presentations. An in-depth case study of the practices of The New York Times Interactive News Technology department provides insight into the future of Web journalism and suggests some guidelines for other organizations in developing this competency.
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Reshaping the Public Radio Newsroom for the Digital Future
by Nikki Usher and Dr. Patricia Riley
This paper provides a discussion of NPR’s journey as it strives to become a more multimedia savvy company. The paper details the early vision of NPR’s leaders – one that included an emphasis on the web and particularly the move to visual storytelling and the extensive retraining necessary to achieve this goal—as well as the progress review at the mid-point of the transformation that caused the strategy to become more organic to the organization and tailored to the mission and employee base of the organization. An examination of NPR’s “lessons learned” provides insights for other organizations involved in a variety of media convergence issues as well as its ability to model important elements of a learning organization in a time of dramatic change.
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From the Pixel to the Grid and Back
by Nuno Vargas
In what way has the previous knowledge of graphic design rules and the use of the grid transformed on the web platform? In a canvas composed with pixels would not be logic to follow a set of rules that would naturally fit into those same pixels? How are we using the medium to our own benefit and how can we take advantage of its full potential? Are today’s online newspapers embracing the web fully as a new medium or are they anchored to the paper metaphor, disregarding the possibilities of the online platform and leaving the users with a poorer information experience? Should information be presented in the same format no matter the nature of its content? We try to research how the most notorious online newspapers of Europe and South America are addressing this issues and its ways of doing so.
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Effects of Online and Offline Discussion Networks and Weak Ties on Civic Engagement
by Homero Gil de Zúñiga and Sebastián Valenzuela
Empirical studies of discussion networks and participation go as far back as the 1940s, with a bolder focus in political—not civic—activities. A consistent finding reveals that individuals with larger networks are more engaged than those with smaller networks. This paper expands this line of work with a number of novel tests. First, it examines whether larger citizen discussion networks, both online and offline, matter for civic engagement. Then, it explores the role of citizens’ strong and weak ties within their discussion networks in relation to civic commitment. Finally, it analyzes which context—online vs. offline—is more predictive of such civic behavior. Using original survey data from a large national sample of U.S. adults, results indicate that (1) network size, both online and offline, is positively related with civic engagement; (2) weak-tie discussion is the strongest predictor of civic engagement; (3) weak-tie discussion largely mediates the association between online and offline networks and civic participation; and (4) online networks entail greater exposure to weak ties than offline networks.

(**) Top rated paper.
University of Texas at Austin | Moody College of Communication | School of Journalism | Knight Center Journalism in the Americas