Citizen Journalism  in the 2007 Australian Federal Election Dr Axel Bruns Creative Industries Faculty Queensland Universit...
Citizen Journalism and the Election <ul><li>(Some) analogies with 2004 U.S. election: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>substantial us...
Citizen Journalism in Context <ul><li>Gradual development: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>early citizen journalism as Gansian secon...
Citizen Journalism in Context <ul><li>Gradual development: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>recent citizen journalism transcends Gans...
Key CJ Sites in the 2007 Election <ul><li>Policy Analysis for PJs:  Larvatus   Prodeo </li></ul><ul><ul><li>key site of th...
Key CJ Sites in the 2007 Election <ul><li>Pros and Amateurs: Psephology at  Possums  Pollytics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>speci...
Key CJ Sites in the 2007 Election <ul><li>Politics Where It Matters:  Youdecide2007 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>hyperlocal elect...
Key CJ Sites in the 2007 Election <ul><li>Watching the Watchers: The  ABC Online  Blogs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>various citi...
Challenges for Citizen Journalism <ul><li>After the 2007 election experience: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>overcoming the partici...
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Citizen Journalism in the 2007 Australian Federal Election

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Paper presented at the AMIC conference in Brisbane, Australia (26-28 March 2008). For more information, see http://snurb.info/

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Citizen Journalism in the 2007 Australian Federal Election

  1. 1. Citizen Journalism in the 2007 Australian Federal Election Dr Axel Bruns Creative Industries Faculty Queensland University of Technology [email_address] http://snurb.info/ – http://produsage.org/
  2. 2. Citizen Journalism and the Election <ul><li>(Some) analogies with 2004 U.S. election: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>substantial use of online media </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>by established parties (YouTube clips, Kevin 07 and LaborFirst sites, …) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>and media organisations (ABC Online, News.com.au blogs, …) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>news blogs and citizen journalism recognised as important </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>some persistent belligerence between citizen and industrial journalists </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>but also key differences due to political cultures (compulsory vs. voluntary voting, Westminster vs. presidential system, …) </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Citizen Journalism in Context <ul><li>Gradual development: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>early citizen journalism as Gansian second tier of news: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>devoted “primarily to reanalysing and reinterpreting news gathered by the central media – and the wire services – for their audiences, adding their own commentary and backing these up with as much original reporting, particularly to support bottom-up, representative, and service news, as would be financially feasible.” (Gans 1980: 318) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>based on gatewatching, not gatekeeping (Bruns 2005) – observing, expanding, critiquing material published by first-tier media </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>relying on users’ “random acts of journalism” – multiperspectival model based on probabilistic produsage effects (Bruns 2008) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Citizen Journalism in Context <ul><li>Gradual development: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>recent citizen journalism transcends Gansian two-tier model: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>some independent reporting rather than dependence on mainstream sources </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>especially for specialist topics which industrial journalism ignores or covers poorly </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>exploration of hybrid pro-am models </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>in the context of existing citizen journalism projects (e.g. OhmyNews ) or </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>as an expansion of mainstream news reporting </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Australian developments lag behind international trends </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>possibly due to relative apathy towards politics, and </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>continuing limitations of Australian broadband networks </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Key CJ Sites in the 2007 Election <ul><li>Policy Analysis for PJs: Larvatus Prodeo </li></ul><ul><ul><li>key site of the left-of-centre blogosphere, long-established </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>run from Brisbane by Mark Bahnisch </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>group of contributors from around the country </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>some basis in gatewatching – posts triggered by mainstream reporting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>also substantial amount of original opinion writing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>some writers (esp. Bahnisch) now regular commentators in other online and print media </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>public intellectualism, mainly for political junkies? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>still positioned in second, specialist tier of the mediasphere </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>cf. Stephen Coleman: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>what is at risk if the uncomfortable chasm between the engaged and the disenchanted is left unreconciled? Democracy is ultimately unsustainable when the demos is estranged from it. (2003, 756) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Key CJ Sites in the 2007 Election <ul><li>Pros and Amateurs: Psephology at Possums Pollytics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>specialising in psephology (statistical analysis of election results and polling trends) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>relatively unknown before the election </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>operated pseudonymously by Possum Comitatus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>running commentary on polling results </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>rose to wider recognition in public stoushes with The Australian ’s election analysts (esp. Dennis Shanahan) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ sheltered academics and failed journalists who would not get a job on a real newspaper”; “ we understand Newspoll because we own it” (12 July 2007) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ statistical bloggers forever complain … and essentially want polls to be banished from newspapers and public debate except during an election.” (21 Feb. 2008) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>cf. Dan Gillmor: “my readers know more than I do” (2003, vi) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>professional journalists vs. amateur journalists, but also </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>professional psephologists vs. (very) amateur psephologists </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> scientific expertise (in psephology) trumps expert craftsmanship (in journalism) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Key CJ Sites in the 2007 Election <ul><li>Politics Where It Matters: Youdecide2007 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>hyperlocal election coverage from electorates across the country </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>supported by ARC Linkage grant (QUT, National Forum, SBS, Cisco Systems, Brisbane Institute) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>strong focus on original material (candidate interviews, vox-pops, local issues reporting) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>some take-up in mainstream media and by political leaders </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>esp. Peter Lindsay remarks (Lib/Herbert) on young people’s “financial illiteracy”: “I remember my own case. We sat on milk crates in the lounge room until we could afford chairs. … Things were more responsible.” (Interview by Jason Wilson, 10 Sep. 2007) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>project success limited by short lifespan – but proof of concept </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>contributor take-up especially strong in rural and regional areas and among older generations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>unexpected for social media project </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>possibly due to poor journalistic service outside metropolitan areas </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>true citizen reporting – politicians answerable to citizens-as-reporters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>hyperlocal positioning outside of two-tier system </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Key CJ Sites in the 2007 Election <ul><li>Watching the Watchers: The ABC Online Blogs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>various citizen journalism projects: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ABC Online “Opinion” and “Unleashed” sections (invited contributors) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“Unleashed: Sledge” channel on YouTube (user contributions) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The Poll Vault , Rural Election Blog , Antony Green’s Election Blog (staff blogs) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>pre- rather than post-moderation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>limits free flow of conversation, but necessary for internal reasons (?) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>stifles development of community self-policing protocols </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>sign of gradual exploration of collaboration opportunities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>with news bloggers, citizen journalists, and others </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>harnessing outside expertise where required and appropriate </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>developing multi-tier model where unruly content remains at arms’ length from (but closely interlinked with) core news material </li></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Challenges for Citizen Journalism <ul><li>After the 2007 election experience: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>overcoming the participation gap </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>no need for all PJ sites to attract wider audience, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>but how to increase circulation for their best material? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>recognising experts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>need for citizen and industrial journalists to draw on expert voices, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>while remaining critical where appropriate </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>harnessing hyperlocal knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>citizens are experts on their local environments, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>and hyperlocal citizen journalism often has no industry counterpart </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>developing pro-am models linking citizen and industry journalism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>combining citizen-expert knowledge and engagement </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>with journalistic writing, editing, moderation, and quality control skills </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Roy Greenslade: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ we are surely moving towards a situation in which relatively small ‘core’ staffs will process material from freelancers and/or citizen journalists, bloggers, whatever” (2007) </li></ul></ul></ul>

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