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Thinking about Citizen Journalism:
Perspectives on Participatory News
Production at Community Newspapers
Seth C. Lewis
Kel...
Participatory Professional
Digitization and its tension
Clarifying our concepts
Citizen journalism
Smaller newspapers
Gatekeeping theory
Research questions
• RQ1. In general, what do community
newspaper editors think of citizen journalism,
and how likely are ...
Methods
• Systematic sampling of community papers
• Semi-structured interviews with 29 top editors
• Clarified the questio...
Results
• Papers took one of four approaches:
– 1. Disfavored citizen-J on philosophical grounds
– 2. Disfavored on practi...
Positive opinion of
citizen journalism
Philosophy
Negative opinion of
citizen journalism
Practicality
1. Disapprove on principle
• “News is meant to be reported professionally,
not through some random citizen.”
• “I guess we...
2. Disapprove for practical reasons
• “I’m concerned that … things can be
construed as fact when there’s nothing to
back t...
3. Approve on theoretical grounds
• “It’s vital to engaging a community that wants
to have more ownership of their local m...
4. Approve on practical grounds
• “We’re a small paper, it allows us to get stuff in
that we wouldn’t be able to send a re...
Positive opinion of
citizen journalism
Philosophy
Negative opinion of
citizen journalism
Practicality
9 editors 9 editors
...
Thanks.
Seth C. Lewis
Kelly Kaufhold
Dominic L. Lasorsa
Contact: seth.lewis@mail.utexas.edu
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Lewis

ISOJ 2009

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  1. 1. Thinking about Citizen Journalism: Perspectives on Participatory News Production at Community Newspapers Seth C. Lewis Kelly Kaufhold Dominic L. Lasorsa School of Journalism • University of Texas
  2. 2. Participatory Professional Digitization and its tension
  3. 3. Clarifying our concepts Citizen journalism Smaller newspapers Gatekeeping theory
  4. 4. Research questions • RQ1. In general, what do community newspaper editors think of citizen journalism, and how likely are they to incorporate some variation of it in their news operation? • RQ2. How do community newspapers negotiate citizen journalism, as a philosophical concept and a practical concern, in their role as community gatekeeper?
  5. 5. Methods • Systematic sampling of community papers • Semi-structured interviews with 29 top editors • Clarified the question of “citizen journalism” • Transcriptions textually analyzed
  6. 6. Results • Papers took one of four approaches: – 1. Disfavored citizen-J on philosophical grounds – 2. Disfavored on practical grounds OR – 3. Favored citizen-J on philosophical grounds – 4. Favored on practical grounds
  7. 7. Positive opinion of citizen journalism Philosophy Negative opinion of citizen journalism Practicality
  8. 8. 1. Disapprove on principle • “News is meant to be reported professionally, not through some random citizen.” • “I guess we kind of feel like since we’re the journalists we need to be the ones writing.” • “I think citizen journalism detracts…. People see us as the authority news source.” • “(We) have to control the content…. We have a good idea of what’s newsworthy based on our experience.”
  9. 9. 2. Disapprove for practical reasons • “I’m concerned that … things can be construed as fact when there’s nothing to back them up as facts…it would be pretty labor intensive.” • “I see a lot of the citizen but not a lot of journalism. There’s a lot of slander and personal anger or bitterness, but not news.” • “Things like editing issues, liability problems— they can go unchecked with this sort of thing.”
  10. 10. 3. Approve on theoretical grounds • “It’s vital to engaging a community that wants to have more ownership of their local media.” • “…journalism will not be replaced by it but it will be supplemented by it.” • “We’ve got to figure out a way to get the younger people involved and I think that’s the way to do it.” • “We have an open-door policy. We even have students, student journalism.”
  11. 11. 4. Approve on practical grounds • “We’re a small paper, it allows us to get stuff in that we wouldn’t be able to send a reporter to.” • “We involve citizens extensively… We have columnists writing about nature, humor, gossip, etc.” • “There is so much more to cover and (only) so many people who are in a position to cover it.” • “Any time you get input from your readers, it’s good.”
  12. 12. Positive opinion of citizen journalism Philosophy Negative opinion of citizen journalism Practicality 9 editors 9 editors 7 editors 4 editors
  13. 13. Thanks. Seth C. Lewis Kelly Kaufhold Dominic L. Lasorsa Contact: seth.lewis@mail.utexas.edu

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