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2012 Research Papers
Below are the blind peer-reviewed research papers that were selected for presentation for the symposium event. Some authors have opted to not have their papers listed on the site at this time so not all pdfs of the papers will be available. Listed in alphabetic order by first author.
From journalism students to local news entrepreneurs: A case study of technically media
by Mark Berkey-Gerard, Rowan University
This paper is an in-depth case study of Technically Media, a media consultancy and publisher of the regional technology blog, Technically Philly. The purpose is to gain a systemic understanding of the key entrepreneurial skills, knowledge, and behaviors required at an online news start-up and to investigate how one particular group of young journalists acquired those skills in their business venture. It has practical application for other local and niche online news websites. The research also seeks insight into how these practices might be incorporated into a journalism curriculum.
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#Memstorm: Twitter as a community-driven breaking news reporting tool
by Carrie Brown, University of Memphis
This study offers an in-depth exploration of how citizens and journalists in Memphis, Tennessee have come to utilize Twitter and the hashtag #Memstorm as a collaborative breaking news reporting tool when severe weather hits the region. It examines some of the factors that motivate public participation and looks at how this new, always-on community-driven communication system – what scholar Alfred Hermida has called "ambient journalism" - is affecting local journalism, building on previous theory and research revealing how social media has helped make the news process increasingly participatory. Using interviews, a survey, participant observation and textual analysis, this study shows how Memphians are building community online and playing a role in sharing information vital to public health and welfare.
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Survival is success: an analysis of online journalism start-ups in France, Germany, and Italy
by Nicola Bruno, Effecinque, and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, University of Oxford (United Kingdom)
This paper examines the performance of journalistic online start-ups in Western Europe. Based on analysis of nine strategically chosen cases from Germany, France, and Italy and data on general developments in media use and media markets, it shows that the economics of online news currently are as challenging for new entrants as they are for industry incumbents. Start-ups are struggling to break even in all three countries. They face two particularly important challenges: First, the market for online news continues to be dominated by legacy media which have leveraged their existing resources and well-known brands to draw audiences and generate revenues that are orders of magnitude above those of start-ups. Second, the market for online advertising is on the one hand generously supplied by millions of websites which keep the average CPM rates low and on the other hand dominated by a few large US-based players which capture much of the advertising. The challenges identified means that though internet use and online advertising is growing across Europe, it is not clear that this alone will provide the basis for a new generation of sustainable journalistic start-ups. The situation is in flux, but based on the countries and cases examined it seems that at this juncture survival in itself should be considered a form of success, and that the journalistic start-ups most likely to thrive are those that deliver a distinct, quality product, operate with lean organizations, have diverse revenues, and are oriented towards niche audiences poorly served by legacy media.
Verbal and visual national news framing of Dilma Rousseff and her successful bid as Brazil's first female president
by Tania Cantrell Rosas-Moreno, Loyola University (Maryland)
In 2010, Brazil elected its first female head of state, Dilma Rousseff, a former guerrilla turned trained economist handpicked by Lula to succeed him. Even with the former popular president's backing, the race was tight, forcing a run off. This framing study qualitatively analyzes 292 news articles plus 20 photos sampled from three constructed weeks of three online news publications' coverage of Ms. Rousseff's successful campaign. The latent news frames that emerge from the verbal and visual news cues are contextualized within Brazil's rising stature as a world power, its growing middle class and (positive) implications for women and other minorities. The results further our understanding of Brazil's state of journalism, as Brazil continues to mature as a democracy and its "partly free"–ranked press persists in evolving.
Are digital natives dropping print newspapers?
A national survey of college newspaper advisers(**)
by Hsiang Iris Chyi, University of Texas at Austin
Simply because young adults are less likely to read a print newspaper compared with other age groups, many news professionals assume young people have lost interest in reading print newspapers. Although previous research has documented that most readers found the print newspaper to be more useful, satisfying, likeable, and enjoyable than its online counterpart, many within and outside the industry believe young people are an exception, and the way to retain young readers is to pursue them online. However, because no viable business models for online news seem to exist, it is important to re-visit some of the assumptions about young readers' attitudes toward online and print media. College newspapers provide a unique opportunity to test such assumptions because most college newspapers publish in both online and print formats, and both formats are offered for free. Additionally, their readers are college students ages 18-22 (the so-called "digital natives"), all with Internet access. A survey of 198 U.S. college newspaper advisers was conducted in 2011. The findings suggest that the print edition outperforms the Web edition in terms of readership and preference. The print edition generated the vast majority of advertising revenue. Print circulation in most cases has remained stable. And most college newspaper advisers do not believe an online-only model is feasible within the next five years. These results carry important implications for commercial newspapers as they envision the future of their industry.
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Theorizing Online News Consumption: A structural model linking preference, use, and paying intent
by Hsiang Iris Chyi and Angela M. Lee, University of Texas at Austin
While media scholars tend to take "media use" as an indicator of popularity or diffusion, media use alone does not fully capture the complexity of online news consumption. For instance, given free online news offerings in most cases, consumers do not always use what they prefer, and most are not willing to pay for what they use. This study identifies three distinct factors -- preference, use, and paying intent -- each helps explain a specific facet of online news consumption. To date, media research on the economics of online news consumption has uncovered a number of relationships among these factors. Nonetheless, a synthesizing model that weaves different empirical findings together is lacking. To address the interplay among the key factors, this study presents a holistic theoretical model via Structural Equation Modeling. The goal is to clarify the relationship among preference, use, and paying intent for online news, which may help explain why most newspapers have difficulties monetizing online usage. Applying ground-breaking conceptual and methodological approaches, this study seeks to synthesize previous studies and to advance to the next level research on the economics of online news consumption.
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Through the lens: Visual framing of the Japan tsunami in U.S., British, and Chinese online media
by Rosellen Downey, Erika Johnson, and Bailey Brewer, University of Missouri
This study analyzes the visual framing of the recent tsunami in Japan in March of 2011 in Chinese, British, and U.S. online media coverage (Xinhua, BBC, and NPR outlets), using a census sample (n=242). The study examined subject roles, nationality of subjects, presence of human subjects, and number of human subjects in relation to nation of coverage and nation being covered through descriptive statistics, crosstabs and chi-square analysis. Several significant associations were found for role (DV1), nationality (DV2), absence or presence (DV3), and number of subjects (DV4) and nation providing coverage (IV1) and nation being covered (IV2). It was found that among the online media outlets, China provided the largest number of photos of the disaster during the initial three days of the disaster's onset. This study contributes to a general lack of visual framing research in scholarly literature and shows how geographic proximity can have an effect on coverage and audience interpretation.
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WellCommons.com: Breaking down the barriers between journalists and the community
by Jonathan Groves, Drury University
This exploratory case study seeks to add to the growing literature on participatory journalism by examining WellCommons.com, a community news site launched in March 2010 by the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal World. The site sought to bring together the work of professional journalists and community contributors. Using a content analysis, this study explores contributions over the Web site's initial launch period. Community content is broken down by story type and contributor and then compared and contrasted with the work of professional journalists. Commenting and reposting behaviors are also explored to understand the workings of a standalone online community designed from the outset to blend the contributions of amateurs and professionals.
Animation, documentary or interactive gaming? Exploring communicative aspects of environmental messaging online
by Astrid Gynnild, University of Bergen (Norway) and Paul C. Adams, University of Texas at Austin
Emergent visual genres such as animation and interactive gaming are
gaining popularity in online communities, but tend to be considered peripheral to online news reporting. This paper contests these attitudes by exploring the effectiveness of visual environmental messaging online. Many studies have applied aggregate approaches to gain more knowledge about collective action and environmental attitudes, but less is known about the impact of online messaging on individuals. In a qualitative, cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary study, students majoring in journalism and petroleum engineering
encountered an animation video, a documentary-style video and an interactive game-like approach. In general, environmental messaging online were found to elicit feelings of information overload and helplessness among resourceful young people in both Norway and Texas.
However, beneath these feelings we identify a layer of untapped curiosity. The study supports the idea that interactive gaming might have a large potential for engaging young audiences in new journalism experiences. It is especially well suited for scenario communication
in fields dominated by abstract predictions and much uncertainty such as environmental change. Moreover, the study indicates that accountable, non-biased facts and a somewhat humorous approach are important for young people to engage actively in environmental news
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Sourcing the Arab Spring: A case study of Andy Carvin's sources during the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions
by Alfred Hermida, University of British Columbia (Canada), Seth C. Lewis, University of Minnesota–Twin Cities and Rodrigo Zamith, University of Minnesota–Twin Cities
This paper presents a case study on the use of sources by National Public Radio's Andy Carvin on Twitter during key periods of the 2011 Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings. It examines the different actor types on the social media platform to reveal patterns of sourcing used by the NPR social media strategist, who emerged as a key broker of information on Twitter during the Arab Spring. News sourcing is a critical element in the practice of journalism as it shapes from whom journalists get their information and what type of information they obtain. Numerous studies have shown that journalists privilege elite sources who hold positions of power in society. This study evaluates whether networked and distributed social media platforms such as Twitter expand the range of actors involved in the construction of the news through a quantitative content analysis of the sources cited by Carvin. The results show that non-elite sources had a greater influence over the content flowing through his Twitter stream than journalists or other elite sources. While alternative actors barely made up a quarter of his sources overall, they nonetheless accounted for nearly half of all the messages in the sample. Carvin's use of Twitter, while perhaps unique to him, points to the innovative forms of production that can emerge in the initial stages of new communication technologies. The analysis of his choice of actor types and the frequency of citation suggests there was a new paradigm of sourcing at play. In a networked media environment, the journalist emerges as a central node trusted to authenticate, interpret, and contextualize information flows on social awareness streams, drawing on a distributed and networked newsroom where knowledge and expertise are fluid, dynamic and hybrid.
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Who knows best? Attitudes and perceptions of citizen journalism and the news through the lens of creators and consumers
by Avery Holton, Mark Coddington, and Homero Gil de Zuniga, University of Texas at Austin
Through the examination of a rich US national panel data set, this study will illuminate one of the key factors associated with participatory journalism-trust. In particular, this study will explore the interplay between trust and perceived opinion and bias within participatory journalism, helping create a picture of the values of citizen-driven journalism by drawing from the perceptions of the citizen content creators themselves. In the discussion over whether those values represent a continuation of or a break from traditional journalistic values, this study could provide a valuable data point from which to draw insight. As digital journalism continues to evolve, its participatory shift in particular calls for a fuller understanding of the attitudes, opinions, and motivations of those new participants. This study aims to add an important piece of that understanding by connecting their behavior with their attitudes toward the new forms of journalism they are helping to create.
Is this the future of online news? An examination of Samoa Topix
by Linda Jean Kenix and Christine Daviault, University of Canterbury (New Zealand)
News in general still relies upon the ethical norms of responsible news values such as balance, fairness and objectivity. However, recent research has found that mainstream newspapers are adapting to how readers now wish to engage with the news online – encouraging citizen journalism and commentary to "construct a more pluralist and democratic debate about matters of public interest" (Franklin, 2008, p. 631). Some have argued that by adopting tenets of public journalism, mainstream media are promoting democratic ideals and adopting what have historically been viewed as alternative media practices. This research aims to examine how one particular example from the global Topix news organization creates and disseminates its news online. Topix makes an impressively bold statement on their website that they have "combined the best technology with the strongest local participation to create the best destination for news and discussion. By giving everyone access to the tools to talk – and an audience to listen – Topix states that it "redefines what it means to make the news" (About Topix, 2011). Samoa Topix claims to be a "leading news community", "continually updated", with "thousands of sources" that gives "everyone access," but how are these transparent and pluralistic claims supported by reality on their web site and what can this case study tell us about journalism in the 21st century?
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Audience preference and editorial judgment: a study of time-lagged influence in online news
by Angela M. Lee, University of Texas at Austin, and Seth C. Lewis, University of Minnesota
The rise of sophisticated tools for tracking audiences online has begun to change the way media producers think about media audiences. This study examines this phenomenon in journalism. Research suggests that journalists, after long resisting or ignoring audience preferences, are becoming increasingly aware of user desires, manifest via metrics. However, research also finds a gap in the news preferences of journalists and audiences. This study asks: who influences whom more in this disparity? Through longitudinal secondary data analysis of three U.S. online newspapers, and using structural equation modeling, this study finds (1) audience preferences affect subsequent editorial placement of news stories, (2) such influence intensifies during the course of the day, (3) editorial judgment does not influence subsequent audience preference for news stories, and (4) audience preferences affect editorial judgments more than the other way around. Implications of these findings and suggestions for future research are discussed.
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Yes, iTouch: a case study of the first Brazilian news media for tablets
by Soraia Herrador Costa Lima, Centro Universitário Estácio Radial de São Paulo and Senac (Brazil)
This paper examines the first Brazilian news vehicle for tablets, called Brasil 247. In order to do a complete analysis of the journal, the research included interviews with the journalists and others professionals involved in the project, detailed reading of Brasil 247, which includes the news and the publicity, and also the content of its social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter) and website, so I could be able to verify if the content was different and why. Moreover, the paper will present research about the Brazilian market of tablets, who use it and who are the readers of Brasil 247. At the end of the paper, the readers can understand Brasil 247, its content and the journalistic project. They will also be able to compare Brazilian users of tablets to American users, in order to show different online realities.
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Visuality of tablet newspapers and magazines compared to their print and web editions
by Anssi Männistö, University of Tampere (Finland)
Since the launching of iPad-tablet in January 2010 publishers has been active in putting on market tablet editions of their magazines and newspapers. The process has been fast and it has resulted to a state where there are no coherent set of principles in tablet design. The knowledge of best practices is only evolving in this field.
In this presentation I will discuss about the differences in front page lay out and navigation design strategies of tablet editions. I will also compare and measure the characteristics of visuality of same media titles in different formats (print, web and tablet).
Mapping emerging news networks: A case study of the San Francisco Bay area
by Donica Mensing, David M. Ryfe, Hayreddin Ceker, and
Mehmet Hadi Gunes, University of Nevada
This pilot study of the network of news organizations in the San Francisco Bay area examined the linking patterns between 114 news sites. We confirmed the findings of previous studies that showed more than 80 percent of the links originated from less than 20 percent of the sites. We also confirmed the observation that major traditional news sites continue to attract the most links within the ecosystem. However we discovered that many of these links are driven by commercial concerns and do not seem to reflect the presence of meaningful relationships. In contrast, the linking patterns of the emerging non-profit news sector are quite different, indicating the development of an alternative model of relationship building and agenda setting. We conclude that in a networked media environment, popularity does not equal influence. Future studies will examine the nature of influence in a networked media environment.
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Asserting ″truth″ in political debates: A study of partisan Twitter users
by Emily T. Metzgar and Hans P. Ibold, Indiana University
In the modern communication ecosystem, the social media platform Twitter is playing an increasingly important role. To the chagrin of the news industry, the microblog seems to be performing many of the functions once reserved for professional journalists. Twitter is connecting and empowering citizens who then use the microblog to get organized, share ideas, engage with political issues, and just stay informed. Each of these outcomes is among those traditionally associated with the practice of journalism in American society. This study asks to what extent politically oriented Twitter users are wielding information in a way consistent with contemporary forms of journalism. Using data collected based on partisan identification of Twitter accounts, we identify the practices associated with modern journalism as employed by users engaged in political discussions in this public online forum.
African citizen journalists' ethics and the emerging networked public sphere
by Bruce Mutsvairo, Simon Columbus, and Iris Leijendekker, Amsterdam University College (The Netherlands)
Between conventional reporters and citizen media, ethics converge in African online journalism. The rise of digitally-networked technologies such as the Internet and mobile phones reshapes reporting across the continent. This change is technological – with social media platforms enabling new forms of publishing, receiving, and discussing stories – as well as cultural – with idiosyncratic conventions emerging on these platforms. We aim to identify distinct ethical traditions in conventional and citizen journalism in the literature and by interviewing practitioners from a range of African countries. A preliminary literature review indicates that practices in both strands of journalism are increasingly converging. More and more, traditional journalists and publishers take up practices piloted by bloggers and other social media users, whereas at least a subset of citizen journalists increasingly take to more sophisticated reporting practices. We posit that this convergence in journalistic practice comes with an increasing convergence in the underlying ethics. This paper will in particular explore how these convergent online journalism ethics relate to the public sphere. The emergence of a digitally-networked public sphere has been hailed as a revival of bottom-up democracy in the West, but its consequences for African countries are less clear. We therefore investigate whether the ethics of online journalism emerging across Africa conform with the preconditions for a networked public sphere.
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Content Curation: a new form of gatewatching for social media?
by Katarina Stanoevska-Slabeva, Vittoria Sacco, and Marco Giardina, University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland)
The increasingly active role of audiences in news creation is changing the traditional roles between media and journalists and their readers. New concepts on how the role of journalists in relation to an active audience is, will or has to change have been researched. One concept suggested by scholars is gatewatching, which is considered to replace traditional gatekeeping journalistic roles. A new, innovative practice of news reporting is social media curation involving crafting digital narratives out of online and social media content. By considering the concept of gatewatching as theoretical foundation, the characteristics of the process of social media curation are explored based on analysis of resulting stories. Randomly selected curated news stories about the Middle East revolutions extracted from the platform Storify's have been examined by applying content analysis on authorship, human and digital sources. Empirical findings confirm that core gatewatching attributes can be observed in news creation based on social media curation. Examples of extracted gatewatching attributes are the selection and filtering of relevant online and social media information sources and provisioning of direct access to original sources referenced in the stories. However, in addition to professional social media search and filtering of available sources, traditional journalistic skills are still necessary in order to glue the curated pieces of information to a story.
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Social reading and privacy norms: The aesthetic of simplicity, online reading and interface confusion
by J. Richard Stevens, University of Colorado at Boulder
Every year more legal codes and policy initiatives concerned with the regulation of consumer privacy are created throughout the world, yet the amount of personal information collected and stored continues to increase. Much of this data comes directly from individuals through small "trivial and incremental" interactions that "minimize its ultimate effect" (Cohen 2000, 1397). Privacy attitudes are neither static nor inflexible. When individuals perceive the potential benefits for information transactions outweigh potential risks, they voluntarily adjust their privacy decision-making to meet the demands of changing social contexts (Friedman, 1997; Murphy, 1964). Architecture itself creates social context and influences human behavior (Tuan, 1977). The current work examines the effect of certain aesthetics (in particular, simplicity) in "architectures of vulnerability" that lead individuals to provide personal information in exchange for security, comfort, a sense of belonging and the ability to perform surveillance. Through the communication of communal aesthetics, online storefronts, social networking sites and other online venues create an image of a contextual paradigm that does not conform to the behaviors of the underlying digital architecture. In this manner, interface design is used to create false social contexts and illusions of voluntariness that cause individuals to disclose more personal information than they normally would.
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More than shovelware: A call for layered stories for online journalism
by Yanjun Zhao, Cameron University
This paper addresses an issue in the information design for the online stories. While most newspapers adopt a "shovelwear" approach, a new technique–layering–could greatly enhance the reading experience with visual clues of story structure. This paper analyzes the different reading styles of reading a print-copy versus reading online; and based on those differences, the advantages of layering is discussed. A pilot experiment was conducted to check the effectiveness of the layering technique. Results showed that a layered article is less boring to read, faster to read, considered better organized, and adds to the web page's attractiveness.
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"Best practice" in the journalism ethics frame: a comparative study
by Lawrie Zion, La Trobe University (Australia)
The proliferation of online media has complicated the practice of journalism ethics. While it can be argued that traditional ethics principles don't fundamentally change when information is disseminated online, the application of those codes across a range of platforms is increasingly challenging in a rapidly evolving mediascape, especially as new kinds of interactions develop between journalists and audiences. Through a case study and comparative analysis, this paper argues that "best practice" is becoming an increasingly useful framing device for applying the ethical complexities of digital media, and that the formulation of best practice principles is essential if traditional ethical norms are to be successfully extended and integrated into online media practice. Some recent attempts to identify and codify best online practices are examined, namely, in submissions made to Australia's Independent Media Inquiry, the Canadian Association of Journalists 2011 report on best practices in digital accuracy and corrections, and the American University's Center for Social Media 2009 report, 'Scan and Analysis of Best Practices in Digital Journalism In and Outside U.S. Public Broadcasting'. The research questions addressed are: What are the common features of these attempts to articulate the application of a more open form of ethics? How might they shape and enhance policy and best practice in their respective environments? And what are their potential implications for the teaching of journalism ethics?
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(**) Top rated paper.