From Audience to Reporter: Recruiting and training community members at a participatory news site serving a multiethnic city
Daniela Gerson, Nien-Tsu Nancy Chen, Andrea Wenzel, Sandra Ball-Rokeach & Michael Parks
This study explores a hyperlocal news website that has trained dozens of community members to report on their own multiethnic city. It examines two approaches to participatory media used by the site: a loose community contributor model based around monthly in-person meetings and a more structured youth training program. Using the observations of the founding editor (the lead author), a professional journalist who facilitated both programs, as well as feedback from content contributors collected through a focus group, interviews and written reflections, we look at the process and investigate the outcomes on contributors’ sense of agency to tell local stories. Reflecting on best practices and key challenges, including sustainability, we situate this case within the context of the rise of locally based community news websites, and changing ideas of what defines a journalist.
How Is Participation Practiced by “In-Betweeners” of Journalism?
This article suggests viewing journalism as a structure of public communication that is enacted through the practices of various actors at sites that go beyond the newsroom. In this practice-oriented understanding, journalists, audiences and all citizen actors in-between these traditional positions take part in the enactment of journalism. This article focuses on the “in-betweeners” of journalism: citizens who are not employed as full-time journalists yet are also not part of what is considered to be the typical audience. It explores the participatory practices of activists, freelancers, academics, local residents, artists and students who are participating in the journalistic process at three different European journalism outlets: Voima, an alternative monthly magazine (Finland); Cafébabel, a participatory online magazine (France and other European countries); and Södra Sidan, a public journalism-style local newspaper (Sweden). The article draws on interviews with 69 actors as well as observations regarding communication between citizens and journalists. It discusses and further develops the concept of participation as introduced by Nico Carpentier in 2011 in Media and Participation: A Site of Ideological-democratic Struggle by separating participation in journalism from participation through journalism. It concludes that there are additional orientations of participation when looked at from the perspective of citizens, namely those of participation with, participation around and participation for journalism.
The Appropriation/Amplification Model of Citizen Journalism: An account of structural limitations and the political economy of participatory content creation
A collaborative relationship between citizen journalists and professional journalists has long been an aspiration for many media scholars. While tensions surrounding professional control are significant, scholars also have to consider the structural dynamics of content online and across social media networks, particularly in an era of the corporatized and commercialized Web. The rise of social discovery tools and algorithms is also addressed. This article aims to bring to light these concerns and moves the conversation about citizen journalism forward by proposing a model that identifies the pathway through which news organizations gather, select, package, and disseminate citizen journalism content.
Practice Theory for Journalism Studies: Operationalizing the concept of practice for the study of participation
This article offers a theoretical-methodological contribution to the discussion on the relationship between practice theory and journalism. The article argues that the domain of practice theory—combining elements from cultural and social theories—offers the opportunity to both move away from industrial or professional frameworks of studying journalism and to examine how journalism is reproduced in practices of various agents involved in its enactment. Firstly, the article presents a model in which the concept of practice is deconstructed into three elements (activity, materiality and reflexivity), which can be used as the basis for empirical analysis. Secondly, it provides methodological insight and proposes a way in which citizen participation, as an emerging practice of journalism, can be scrutinized by operationalizing practice theory. This theoretical-methodological avenue enables us to see the multiple orientations and meanings that participation has in journalism. Moreover, studying journalism through the concepts provided by practice theory can eventually help us understand how journalism maintains itself and is capable of renewal through (and despite) increasing participation.