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2011 Research Papers

Below are the blind peer-reviewed research papers that were selected for presentation for the symposium event. Listed in alphabetic order. Papers will be available for download beginning April 1. Top Rated Research Paper will be announced at the event.

Open APIs and News Organizations: A Study of Open Innovation in Online Journalism
by Tanja Aitamurto, visiting researcher at Stanford University, and Ph.D student at the University of Tampere, Finland and Seth Lewis, University of Minnesota
This paper examines how and why news organizations are deploying open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) as part of their online strategy, connecting this phenomenon with the "open innovation" paradigm (Chesbrough, 2003) popular in the business management and technology literature. Up to now, the news industry has both under-funded R&D efforts and underappreciated the wisdom of external ideas. But this is beginning to change, as some major news organizations--including four studied here: the Guardian, The New York Times, USA Today, and National Public Radio--have deployed publicly available APIs, which can be seen as the first manifestation of open innovation in the news industry. Through qualitative interviews with key developers, we examine the nature of this phenomenon: the relative motivations, benefits, and challenges associated with using open APIs in the context of online news. Our findings offer a fresh perspective on the process of innovation, both for news organizations and the profession broadly.
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Knitting Together A Public: The Hyperlink, News Aggregation and the Cultures of Digital and Analog Evidence in Web-Era Journalism**
by C.W. Anderson, College of Staten Island (CUNY)
This paper examines the cultural and institutional dynamics of digital information through a qualitative analysis of work at several "human-powered" news aggregators. While public debate has highlighted the complex role of these aggregators in the operation of today's journalistic ecosystem, little research has been conducted on what these aggregators actually do. First and foremost, this paper aims to remedy this deficiency. In a broader sense, the paper serves as an empirical hinge between the authors' ongoing work on journalistic authority and current research on digital "news objects," in this instance, the hyperlink. If (as previous ethnographic research has argued) journalistic authority stems from the fusion of original reporting and the instantiation of the news consuming public, than the link-as an uncertain object of evidence, as a pointer to original information, as a tool that stitches the public together, as a doorway to diverse, often non-journalistic perspectives—is both important and problematic for journalism.
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Opening the Gates: Interactive and Multi-Media Elements of Newspaper Websites in Latin America
by Ingrid Bachmann and Summer Harlow, University of Texas at Austin
In light of newspapers' struggle to maintain readers and viability in the Digital Era, this study aims to better understand how newspapers in Latin America are responding to this shift toward user-generated and multi-media content. Using a content analysis of 20 newspapers from throughout Latin America, this study found that newspaper websites are bringing citizens into the virtual newsroom on a limited basis, allowing them to interact with each other and with the newspaper but only to a small degree. For example, while all newspaper websites have Facebook and Twitter accounts and some multimedia content, few allow readers to report errors, submit their own content, or even contact reporters directly. Further, most online newspaper articles include photos, but video, audio and hyperlinks rarely are used. These results further our understanding of how online interactivity is changing the traditional role of journalists and how Latin America is responding to the challenge.

Friends Who Choose Your News
by Brian Baresch, Dustin Harp, Lewis Knight, Carolyn Yaschur, University of Texas at Austin
The news watcher is no longer a captive audience, and news producers and sharers must compete for attention. Facebook's 500 million-plus active users share more than 30 billion pieces of content each month, including links to news stories, blog posts, and other content. This study examines the external links Facebook users post on their pages. Knowing what links are posted on Facebook indicates the other sites Facebook users are looking at and the type of content they deem important, which in turn illuminates the spread of news and memes at this end of the online news system. Researchers coded the extent, genre and character of shared links and responses. Frequent linkers on Facebook have distinctive genre, topic and source patterns particular to their interests. Findings could help better understand how news finds its way through online social networks via active surveillance and discussion leaders and their repurposing of content.
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Intrigued, But Not Immersed: Millennial Students Analyze the iPad's Performance as a News Platform
by Jake Batsell, Southern Methodist University
The arrival of Apple's iPad tablet in 2010 was trumpeted as a pivotal, game-changing moment for the news business. But did the iPad's initial news applications live up to the much-hyped promise of delivering a more immersive news experience? The author, using two iPads obtained through a university pilot program, assigned 28 digital journalism students to rate and analyze iPad news apps during the fall 2010 semester. The iPads were rotated among the students, who examined their chosen news app over a period of at least four days and evaluated each app based on four factors: immediacy/urgency, non-linear news presentation, multimedia news content, and reader interactivity. The students were most impressed with multimedia news offerings (awarding an average of 3.7 points on a 5-point scale), but were less enamored with the apps' interactivity (3.3 points) and immediacy (3.1). While many students said they believe the iPad holds promise as a news platform, they generally preferred existing news websites and legacy news products to their iPad counterparts.
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Public Broadcasters Venture into Online Hyperlocal News: A Case Study of Newsworks.org
by Mark Berkey-Gerard, Rowan University
In 2010, WHYY Inc., a NPR and PBS member station serving the Greater Philadelphia area, launched the interactive news website, Newsworks.org. The web portal provides regional news and information for the fourth largest media market in the United States. In addition, Newsworks.org features a distinct "hyperlocal news" gathering effort in 8 zip codes of Northwest Philadelphia, an area comprised of 190,000 residents and 15 distinct neighborhoods. Newsworks.org is a pilot program of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, designed to test "the possibilities of online hyperlocal journalism, driven by public media values and skills." This paper is an intrinsic qualitative case study of WHYY. It examines why decision makers at WHYY chose to embark on the Newsworks.org hyperlocal project, how the public media organization defines hyperlocal newsgathering, and how a public media organization practices hyperlocal journalism in the newsroom and in the field.
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Twitter First: Changing TV News 140 Characters at a Time
by Dale Blasingame,Texas State University, San Marcos
The diffusion of Twitter has changed the gatekeeping process and flow of information in television news. Because of Twitter, the power of news delivery is now in the hands of many different newsroom employees who, in the past, were not employed in roles of storytellers. This study qualitatively examines how Twitter has altered the "gates" and the flow of information in television newsrooms in San Antonio, Texas, the country's 37th largest television market, and quantitatively analyzes how television stations and employees there are using Twitter. The data show Twitter is currently being used primarily for another function, not as a tool to deliver breaking news.
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New Opportunities For Diversity: Twitter, Journalists and Traditionally Underserved Communities
by Carrie Brown, University of Memphis, Elizabeth Hendrickson, University of Tennessee, Jeremy Littau, Lehigh University
This study explores the opportunities offered by Twitter for news organizations seeking to connect with communities often underrepresented as both sources and as audiences for news. A recent study by Pew Research Center found that minority Internet users are more than twice as likely as white Internet users to utilize Twitter, and that young Internet users are also significantly more likely than older Americans to adopt the still relatively-new social network. Through in-depth interviews and a survey, this study examines how young people and minorities are using Twitter and its potential to allow news organizations to reach and engage with younger and minority audiences. For many, it is not only a site used for entertainment and connection with like-minded others, but also for keeping up with news and giving them a voice on national or local issues they may not have previously perceived they possessed.
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News on New Devices: Examining Multiplatform News Consumption in the Digital Age
by Hsiang Iris Chyi and Monica Chadha, University of Texas at Austin
The average news consumer in the United States has never had as many choices for news consumption as now. Technological advances have allowed them to access the news on multiple devices such as computers, smartphones, e-readers, and/or tablets. This study empirically examined whether multiplatform news consumption is a reality and the extent to which people own, use, and perceive multiple electronic devices. Data was collected via a web-based survey from a random sample of the American adult population in August 2010. The results suggested that, despite the excitement about newer, more portable devices, the computer still is the dominant day-to-day electronic platform for news access, and most people use only one electronic device for news purposes on a weekly basis. We identified the predictors of device ownership and multiplatform news consumption. Managerial implications are discussed.
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Experiments in location-based content: A case study of Postmedia's use of Foursquare
by Timothy Currie, University of King's College
In 2010, a number of North American news organizations began integrating editorial content with Foursquare, the mobile service that builds social communities around physical locations. Canada's Postmedia Network, the company that owns many big-city dailies in the country, including the National Post, was one of the most active adopters. This paper examines Postmedia's integration of its editorial content with the location-based service. It takes a case study approach, using in-depth interviews with staff at Postmedia news outlets to explore roles, tasks and strategies for pairing content with location. The results provide insight for other news organizations looking to tailor content for the growing audience of smartphone-equipped news consumers.
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See you on Facebook or Twitter? How 30 local news outlets manage social networking tools
by Elvira Garcia de Torres (Universidad CEU Cardenal Herrera, Spain) and others
The aim of the present study is to examine the use of social networking tools by 30 local news outlets from Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Portugal, Spain and Venezuela. It builds on research by Thurman and Hermida (2010), Vujnovic et al. (2010), Jerónimo and Duarte (2010), Garcia de Torres et al. (2010), Lewis et al. (2010) and Díaz Noci et al. (2010). We seek to explore if the dynamics involving the production of local news is affected by the use of such tools and how. Research questions are: (1) What kind of information delivers and gathers a local news outlet through social networking tools? (2) How much resources are consumed? (3) Which are the main opportunities and risks? (4) Are the patterns the same in all the markets examined? The method is a combination of observation of the news outlets profiles on Facebook and Twitter as well as semi-structured interviews with social media editors.
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Journalists in Network Society: Utilization of ICTs inside Three Egyptian Newsrooms
by Ahmed El Gody, Orebro University, Sweden
The study focuses on the diffusion and implementation of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) especially Internet technologies (netCTs) in Egyptian newsrooms. Further the study examines if/and to what extent and in what ways did Egyptian newsrooms incorporated ICTs in their daily routine, and how did news organizations identify themselves with news convergence and whether the interactive characteristics of new media are playing a role in the Egyptian networked society. Other questions include what are ICTs components diffused and adopted in Egyptian print media? Presence of Convergence strategy(ies) within Egyptian newsrooms? What role, if any, do newsroom culture, and professional backgrounds play in adopting ICTs? form(s) of networking among journalists and their networking strategy –if any- with their sources, editors and audience? Further the role played by 'the networked journalism' if any in shaping society's democratic participation and creation of an active social network sphere.
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Stopping the Presses: A Longitudinal Case Study of the Christian Science Monitor Transition From Print Daily to Web Always
by Jonathan Groves, Drury University and Carrie Brown, University of Memphis
Though many news organizations have talked about going "Web-first" in response to sweeping economic and technological changes rocking the media landscape, the Christian Science Monitor took the mantra beyond platitudes. In 2009, the Monitor became the first nationally circulated newspaper to replace its daily print edition with its website and a weekly print magazine. This study utilizes three weeks of newsroom observation, interviews, and a survey to examine the paper's effort to grapple with this transition and the way it has altered news routines and values. Drawing upon theories of organizational culture and leadership, it offers insight for other organizations seeking to implement change. The study also documents a shift in the Monitor's news-gathering efforts and coverage as immediacy and page views rose as critical measures of success.
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The Active Recipient: Participatory Journalism Through the Lens of the Dewey-Lippmann Debate
by Alfred Hermida, UBC Grad. School of Journalism (Canada), David Domingo, Ari Heinonen, Steve Paulussen, Thorsten Quandt, Zvi Reich, Jane Singer, and Marina Vujnovic
While news outlets are providing significant opportunities for citizen contributions, research suggests that journalists have been reluctant to open up the news production process. This study draws on the work of Lippmann and Dewey to frame how journalists view participatory journalism. Definitions of participatory journalism tend to be based on a normative assumption of the active involvement of citizens in the news. Based on semi-structured interviews with professionals at 24 newspaper websites from 10 countries, as well as a consideration of the sites, we found that journalists have tended to adopt a Deweyan approach towards participatory mechanisms. The public is largely framed as a source for, and as a discussant of, the news, with little agency over how news is defined, reported or produced. We suggest that journalists view audiences as "active recipients", somewhere between passive receivers and active creators of content, straddling the space between Lippmann and Dewey.
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Is the Medium the Message? Predicting Popularity of Top U.S. News Sites with Medium-Specific Features
by Angela Lee, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania
Recent studies find that only a handful of news sites dominate the online news landscape, and some contribute such finding to the importance of news branding and credibility online. Nevertheless, existing findings fail to consider other possible explanations for this concentration of consumption beyond the fact that they are all counterparts of well-known, established traditional news sources. "Mediumizing" online news, and adopting an updated Uses & Gratifications approach, this study identifies five online news interface-specific features that predict popularity among the 2009 top ten U.S. news sites using maximum likelihood regression analysis in structural equation modeling. Results call attention to the need to move beyond an exclusive focus on content and consider attributes of online news as a distinct medium as a way to better understand the relationship between online news and its consumers. Suggestions for future studies on online news consumption are also discussed.
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The Knight News Challenge: How it works, what succeeds, and why that matters for the shaping of journalism innovation
by Seth Lewis, University of Minnesota
In recent years, the Knight News Challenge has emerged as one of the most important forums for stimulating innovation in digital journalism, and as a salient marker of the Knight Foundation's influence in the field. Yet, the scholarly literature has yet to unpack this contest: its design and execution; the applicants it attracts and the winners it funds; and the normative aims about the future of journalism that may be revealed in this process. This paper addresses that by examining content analysis data for nearly 5,000 applications to the Knight News Challenge, exploring the distinguishing features of applicants, finalists, and winners-and how particular features are associated with one's proposal advancing in the contest. A logistic regression suggests that, among other factors, those applications that advanced to the finalist and winner stages tended to include forms of participation (e.g., "user manipulation" and "crowdsourcing") as well as other features (e.g., software development) not typically associated with journalism. These findings are placed in the context of the Knight Foundation's broader efforts to shape journalism innovation.
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Shoveling tweets: An analysis of the microblogging engagement of traditional news organizations
by Marcus Messner, Virginia Commonwealth University,Maureen Linke, and Asriel Eford
This study analyzed the adoption and use of the microblogging platform Twitter by newspapers and television stations in the U.S. in 2009 and 2010. The results of a content analysis show that the use of social bookmarking tools on news organizations' websites and the adoption of Twitter have become important tools in the news distribution. However, the study also reveals that news organizations rarely use Twitter as a community-building tool and that shovelware still dominates the Twitter feeds. The use of the main Twitter channels has not developed beyond the utilization as a promotional tool.
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Educating the new generation journalist: from Moodle to Facebook
by Carla Patrao and Antonio Dias Figueiredo, University of Coimbra, Portugal
The education of journalists is beginning to use social media tools extensively as a reflection of the fact that society now lives, not just with technology, but in technology. The action research project we describe in this paper, which is still in progress, tries to answer the question: how can we educate the new generation journalist by exploring innovative learning experiences based on social contexts mediated by technology? The analysis of the data collected so far reveals increased motivation and participation of the students in the learning experience, closer connection to the reality of the profession, and improvement of the students' personal skills in the area of journalism. The recent migration of the project to Facebook is now offering outside visibility and contact with journalism professionals from outside the academic world.
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The Place For Creativity in Routine in The Online Newsroom
by Nikki Usher, University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication
This paper provides a counterpoint to the idea of routines as purely serving functionalist ends; and that these routines may even harm the potential creative and innovative capacity for news. Instead, this paper tries to look for the spaces and places where creativity emerges in newsrooms and specifically in newsrooms as they transition online. News production is of course a routine process, but it is in these routines - both online and in the routines that pre-dated the web - that spaces for creativity are possible. This paper maps out some of these places where creativity may be found in the newsroom, extending previous discussions of routine in the newsroom. The discussion is based on in-depth ethnographic work conducted across five newsrooms over the course of nearly a year and a half, but is intended specifically as a theoretical contribution. These newsrooms include Marketplace public radio, The New York Times, TheStreet.com, and The International Herald Tribune's Paris and Hong Kong newsrooms.

Love it or leave it? The relationship between polarization and credibility of traditional and partisan media
by Kang Hui Baek, Larissa Williams, Maegan Stephens, Mark Coddington, Tom Johnson and Jennifer Brundidge, University of Texas at Austin
While studies have found links between credibility and selective exposure and between selective exposure and polarization, no study could be found that has examined whether credibility influences political polarization and conversely, whether political polarization influences credibility of various information sources. This study employs a secondary analysis of National Annenberg Election Survey data during two points in the 2008 presidential primaries to determine if believability of selected sources will lead to polarized political attitudes. More specifically this study will explore two questions: Does perceived believability of more balanced sources (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN and broadcast news) and/or more partisan ones (MSNBC and Fox News) lead to more polarized attitudes after controlling for demographic and political measures? Will polarized political attitudes increase or decrease believability perceptions of more balanced and more partisan news sources after controlling for demographic and political measures?
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(**) Top rated paper.
University of Texas at Austin | Moody College of Communication | School of Journalism | Knight Center Journalism in the Americas