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Gatekeeping, Gatewatching, Real-Time Feedback: New Challenges for Journalism


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Keynote presented at the SBPJor conference, Rio de Janeiro, 4 Nov. 2011.

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Gatekeeping, Gatewatching, Real-Time Feedback: New Challenges for Journalism

  1. 1. Gatekeeping, Gatewatching, Real-Time Feedback: New Challenges for Journalism<br />Assoc. Prof. Axel Bruns<br />Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia<br /> – – @snurb_dot_info<br /><br />
  2. 2. (Image by falling.bullets)<br />
  3. 3. Challenges for the Journalism Industry<br />Gatekeeping:<br />Multiplication of available information channels<br />Declining control over information flows<br />Potential for bypassing journalism altogether<br />Gatewatching:<br />Increasingly active, selective audiences<br />Citizen journalism alternatives to mainstream media<br />Direct communication between news makers and news users<br />Real-time media:<br />Acceleration of news processes beyond 24-hour news cycle<br />Constant circulation of news and rumours through social media<br />Always-on ‘ambient news’ channels (Hermida, 2010; Burns, 2010)<br />
  4. 4. Producing the News<br />Traditional news process:<br />(from Bruns, Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production, 2005)<br />
  5. 5. The End of Gatekeeping<br />Gatekeeping depends on:<br />Scarcity of information:information difficult to access for average citizens<br />Scarcity of channels:need for careful selection of what news is ‘fit to print’<br />Scarcity of qualified professionals:specific skillset required for journalism, training necessary<br />The end of scarcity:<br />Information abundance:digitisation of information leads to greater accessibility<br />Channel abundance:institutions and organisations provide first-hand information online<br />Proliferation of expertise:domain experts and ‘professional amateurs’ share their knowledge<br />
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  7. 7. An Industry in Denial?<br />The Australian erupts:<br />sheltered academics and failed journalists who would not get a job on a real newspaper<br />we understand Newspoll because we own it (12 July 2007)<br />statistical bloggers forever complain … and essentially want polls to be banished from newspapers and public debate except during an election (21 February 2008)<br />No more than amateurs?<br />Dan Gillmor: “my readers know more than I do” (2003)<br />professional journalists vs. amateur journalists, but also<br />professional psephologists vs. (very) amateur poll interpreters<br /><ul><li>Science (psephology) beats craft (journalism)</li></li></ul><li>Produsing the News<br />Gatewatcher news process:<br />(from Bruns, Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production, 2005)<br />Variations on the process are possible<br />
  8. 8. Implications of Gatewatching<br />Potential new roles for ‘open news’:<br />‘bottom-up’ instead of ‘top-down’ reporting<br />multiperspectival news coverage (Herbert Gans)<br />democratic, dialogic, deliberative journalism(Dan Gillmor: ‘from lecture to conversation’)<br />Implications for mainstream journalism:<br />journalists and editors can be bypassed<br />corrective and critical observer of mainstream news(Herbert Gans: a ‘second tier’ of news organisations)<br />removal of clear distinctions between producers and consumers<br />
  9. 9. Open News and Open Source<br />Translating the open source definition to ‘open news’:<br /> The basic idea behind open source is very simple: When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the Software evolves. People improve it, people adapt it, people fix bugs. And this can happen at a speed that, if one is used to the slow pace of conventional software development, seems astonishing.We in the open source community have learned that this rapid evolutionary process produces better software than the traditional closed model, in which only a very few programmers can see the source and everybody else must blindly use an opaque block of bits.(<br />
  10. 10. Decline of the traditional production value chain:<br />Producer  Distributor  Consumer<br />(market research  producer  distributor  consumer)<br />(consumer input  producer  distributor  consumer)<br />Beyond ‘Production’<br />
  11. 11. A New Value Chain?<br />(as user)<br />produser<br />(as producer)<br />Content<br />Content<br />
  12. 12. (<br />
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  14. 14. Common Characteristics<br />shared across these environments:<br />Open Participation, Communal Evaluation – the community as a whole, if sufficiently large and varied, can contribute more than a closed team of producers, however qualified <br />Fluid Heterarchy, Ad Hoc Governance – produsers participate as is appropriate to their personal skills, interests, and knowledges; this changes as the produsage project proceeds <br />Unfinished Artefacts, Continuing Process – content artefacts in produsage projects are continually under development, and therefore always unfinished; their development follows evolutionary, iterative, palimpsestic paths <br />Common Property, Individual Merit – contributors permit (non-commercial) community use and adaptation of their intellectual property, and are rewarded by the status capital gained through this process<br />
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  16. 16. Social Media and Real-Time News<br />Key news-related uses of social media:<br />First-hand news reports:<br />Hudson River emergency landing; Abbottabad raid; crises and disasters<br />Continuing news discussion:<br />Information sharing, commentary, story curation<br />‘Ambient’ news coverage (Hermida; Burns):<br />Early indicator of breaking stories; trending topics, themes, URLs, etc.<br />Ad hoc formation of online communities:<br />Drawing on available tools and platforms<br />Driven by current themes and problems<br />Quasi-journalistic research and commentary<br />User-driven data journalism<br />
  17. 17. Twitter and the Japanese Tsunami<br />
  18. 18. ‘Working the Story’ through Social Media<br />Journalism as a distributed effort:<br />Large number of contributors performing ‘random acts of journalism’<br />Network of ‘sleeper sources’, on the scene well before journalists<br />Collaborative curation of stories, ad hoc but self-organising<br />Journalists and news organisations participating as equals with users<br />Journalism in the open:<br />Information sourcing, sharing, verification, curation as it happens<br />Separate, uncontrolled, third-party spaces for ambient journalism<br />Sharing of individual news items, disembedded from the brand<br />No scoops, no embargoed knowledge, no controlled releases<br />Journalism as a participatory sport:<br />“the news may be too important to leave to the journalists alone” (Gans, 1980)<br />
  19. 19. Image by Yea I Knit<br />
  20. 20. #eqnz: @replies + Manual Retweets<br />mainstream news<br />authorities<br />utilities<br />
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  22. 22. Challenges for Journalism<br />No more information monopolies<br />Gatekeeping has become impossible<br />Gatewatching creates new competitors<br />Self-righteousness is inappropriate<br />Active, productive users<br />Clear distinctions between amateurs and professionals have disappeared<br />Journalists are often amateurs in relation to the themes they cover<br />Collaborative produsage can lead to professional quality<br />Ambient information environments<br />Declining product loyalty in complex media environments<br />Information subscriptions  information search  ‘information will find me’<br />Subscription models (e.g. iPad apps) only successful in special cases<br />
  23. 23. Opportunities for Journalism<br />Engaging with active news users:<br />Specialisation:<br />Personal and organisational specialisation<br />Individual journalists as personal brands<br />Curation:<br />Journalists and news organisations as expert news curators<br />Provision of advanced news crowdsourcing platforms<br />Facilitation:<br />Focus on journalistic core business: research, investigation<br />Partnership with users as critics, commentators, and curators<br />
  24. 24. Produsage and the News Industry<br />Engaging with social media communities:<br />Be open.<br /> For users (access) and with users (transparency).<br />Seed community processes by providing content and tools.<br /> Model desired behaviour, assist productive participation.<br />Support community dynamics and devolve responsibilities.<br /> Engage promising community leaders as they emerge.<br />Don’t exploit the community and its work.<br /> Making money is fine, but you don’t own your users.<br />Adapted from Axel Bruns and Mark Bahnisch. "Social Drivers behind Growing Consumer Participation in User-Led Content Generation: Volume 1 - State of the Art." Sydney: Smart Services CRC, 2009.<br />
  25. 25. Image by Maproom Systems<br />
  26. 26. Viral Marketing<br />Axel Bruns<br />Associate Professor<br />ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation<br />Queensland University of Technology<br />Brisbane, Australia<br /><br />@snurb_dot_info<br /><br /><br /><br />Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond:From Production to Produsage (Peter Lang, 2008)<br />Uses of Blogs, eds. Axel Bruns and Joanne Jacobs (Peter Lang, 2006)<br />Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production (Peter Lang, 2005)<br />