Exploring the Integration of User-Generated Content in Media Organizations Through Participatory Journalism

Exploring the Integration of User-Generated Content in Media Organizations Through Participatory Journalism

Theodora A. Saridou (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece) and Andreas Veglis (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3479-3.ch080

Abstract

This chapter aims to offer an in-depth description of the concept of participatory journalism, which holds an important and constantly evolving part in the digital media production. First, the chapter presents an analytical framework of the audience participation in online news production as the adoption of user-generated content (UGC) in media via different forms, tools, and applications and during different stages of news production is examined. Furthermore, the problems organizations have to deal with when amateur content is involved with the professional in the everyday work routine are investigated. Finally, in this chapter perspectives on the role of social media and semantic web in the future of participatory journalism are discussed.
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Introduction

The concept of user engagement in news production process has evolved during the last centuries to extend from early forms of participation in printed matters to wholly participatory platforms hosted by mainstream online media outlets. The initial steps of the 17th century (Boczkowski, 2005) were followed by practices like letters to the editor, newspaper ombudsmen and reader representatives, before Internet and World Wide Web (Web) spread made it possible for message boards and chat rooms to be implemented on news websites (Deuze, 2006; Gillmor, 2004; Singer et al., 2011). Nevertheless, it was the predominance of Web 2.0 that led to the radical transformation of the journalist-audience relationship (Reader, 2018; Sinton, 2018).

Remarkable quantities of user-generated content (UGC), basically in the form of text, photos, videos and graphics (Anderson, 2007), are produced and uploaded thanks to easy-to-use publishing tools, always-on connections and powerful mobile devices (Bowman & Willis, 2003). Meanwhile, citizen journalism activity through social media such as Facebook and Twitter is becoming increasingly relevant and important (Kim & Lowrey, 2015, p. 298) and anyone with something engaging to share can be a potential mass communicator (Moore & Hatcher, 2018). As Newman (2009) states, social media and UGC have fundamentally changed the nature of breaking news by contributing to the compression of the “news cycle”, putting more pressure on editors over what and when to report and creating an important extra layer of information and diverse opinion.

Technological developments, along with social and economic transitions (Moretzsohn, 2006), declined audience’s confidence in mainstream journalism (Hirst, 2011) and loss of advertising revenues (Franklin, 2014) provoke strategic redesign in media, challenging traditional concepts such as gatekeeping (Bruns, 2005). Thus, online media adopt tools and applications of participatory journalism, where users can -among others- comment on published stories, send their own digital material, discuss several issues and share articles in social networking sites. However, users’ involvement in making and disseminating news raises a variety of ethical, legal and responsibility issues, which force organizations to use quality assurance methods (Saridou & Veglis, 2016, p. 88).

This chapter aims to offer an in-depth description of the concept of participatory journalism, by providing a deep approach to the conceptual sense of this phenomenon, presenting an analytical framework of the audience engagement in online news production. The chapter seeks better understanding of the adoption of UGC in media via different forms, tools and applications and during different stages of journalistic process. The problems organizations have to deal with when amateur content is involved with the professional content and the solutions chosen are investigated as well. Finally, future research perspectives are discussed.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Participatory Journalism: The form of journalism that takes place when content is co-created by journalists and users on an editorially controlled platform and when the content created by users elsewhere is then acquired and used by professional media outlets.

Moderation: The process of checking UGC which is submitted to a media website.

User-Generated Content (UGC): Online content in many types produced by users and made available for publication.

Registration: The process of submitting personal information in order to get access to participatory applications.

Gatekeeping: The process of filtering information to decide whether it is suitable for becoming news and being disseminated.

Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart (CAPTCHA): A test used to identify human Internet users in order to block computer-derived mass entries to a service.

Citizen Journalism: The form of journalism in which citizens hold the news production process without professional intervention.

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