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Power Without Responsibility (JN 500). Online Journalism and Social Media / Citizen Journalism Case study: WikiLeaks. Lecture Outline. 1. The Virtual Public Sphere 2. Online Journalism History 3. Citizen Journalism 4 . Online Journalism Issues 5. WikiLeaks.

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power without responsibility jn 500

Power Without Responsibility (JN 500)

Online Journalism and Social Media / Citizen Journalism

Case study: WikiLeaks

lecture outline
Lecture Outline
  • 1. The Virtual Public Sphere
  • 2. Online Journalism History
  • 3. Citizen Journalism
  • 4. Online Journalism Issues
  • 5. WikiLeaks
1 the virtual public sphere
1. The Virtual Public Sphere
  • Crisis of mainstream mass media – ethical and political scandals, concentration of ownership, declining circulations, cuts in staffing levels leading to declines in quality of journalism, too cosy relationship between politicians and journalists.
  • Leads to widening disconnect between the public and mass media (Bruns 2008, p. 65).
1 the virtual public sphere1
1. The Virtual Public Sphere
  • We are witnessing “the decline and reconfiguration of the conventional public sphere itself: the slow, casual collapse … of the one-to-many mass media of the industrial age, and their replacement with the many-to-many, user-led media of the networked age whose systematic features necessitate the development of vastly different models for the mediation of political processes (Bruns, 2008: p. 67).
1 the virtual public sphere2
1. The Virtual Public Sphere
  • Virtual public sphere not reliant on mass-mediated public sphere and quality, independent journalism nor is it a neo-Athenian system of direct democracy.
  • Instead it would use “overlapping issue publics to distribute deliberative processes across the network, enabling those communities whom specific political problems interest or affect the most to take on leadership in deliberative processes” (Bruns, 2008: p. 73) – a “kind of opt-in democratic process”.
1 the virtual public sphere3
1. The Virtual Public Sphere
  • Not simple replacement of conventional public sphere and mass media but complex co-existence of mass media and new/social media – facebook posting of news stories, twitter feed on TV programmes.
1 the virtual public sphere4
1. The Virtual Public Sphere
  • Virtual public sphere challenges hierarchies of knowledge.
  • Equipotentiality – a “belief that expertise cannot be located beforehand, and thus general and open participation is the rule” (Bauwens, cited in Bruns, 2008: p. 71).
  • This does not undermine the role of policy experts but increases their accountability to the wider public.
1 the virtual public sphere5
1. The Virtual Public Sphere
  • More active consumers of news seeking greater diversity of stories from greater diversity of news outlets.
  • Open source, citizen journalism, Wikipedia – end users have become active co-producers – they have become “produsers” (Bruns, 2008: p. 72).
1 the virtual public sphere6
1. The Virtual Public Sphere
  • Egyptian protesters used a new social media link that marries Google, Twitter and SayNow, a voice-based social media platform, to find out about the most recent protest and political developments.
  • http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-02-01/news/27738626_1_egyptians-tweet-messages
1 the virtual public sphere7
1. The Virtual Public Sphere
  • The Net of hatred: after Utoya
  • http://www.opendemocracy.net/thomas-hylland-eriksen/net-of-hatred-after-utøya
  • Effect of anonymous posts
  • Netiquette – avoid flaming
  • Need for journalists to operate as “democratic traffic-police”.
2 online journalism history
2. Online Journalism History
  • Number of online news sites accelerated in late 1990s but halted by dotcom bubble in 1999 (McNair 2009, p. 137).
  • BBC launched its online news service in 1997.
  • Early online versions of newspapers have given way to information portals with more interactive features.
  • 1998 Clinton-Lewinsky scandal broken by Drudge Report.
2 online journalism history1
2. Online Journalism History
  • Invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq (2003) saw coming of age of online journalism (McNair 2009, p. 140).
  • ‘Salam Pax’ – the Baghdad Blogger.
2 online journalism history2
2. Online Journalism History
  • September 2002 – first time users of nytimes.com exceeded daily sales of The New York Times (McNair 2009, p. 141).
  • House of Lords Select Committee on Communication noted in 2008 three subsectors:
    • Websites of established news providers;
    • Online news aggregators; and
    • Individual websites run by bloggers
2 online journalism history3
2. Online Journalism History
  • In 2008 MailOnline overtook Guardian as UK’s most used newspaper site. Now most visited news site globally.
  • http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/index.html
  • http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/how-bad-is-the-daily-mail-for-you-20130716-2q1py.html
3 citizen journalism
3. Citizen Journalism
  • “Citizen journalism refers to a range of web-based practices whereby ‘ordinary’ users engage in journalistic practices” – includes blogging, photo and video sharing, posting eyewitness commentary, etc. (Goode 2009, p. 1288).
    • Indymedia - http://www.indymedia.org/en/index.shtml
    • OhmyNews - http://international.ohmynews.com/
    • Guerrilla News Network - http://www.guerrillanews.com
3 citizen journalism1
3. Citizen Journalism
  • Challenge of professional journalistic norms – ‘amateur’ contributions, subjective reportage, greater variety of narrative forms, challenge of hierarchy of sources.
  • Online/new media technology use enables easier, cheaper, faster and more networked communication, available to a global public and also potentially enabling formation of ‘niche’ publics.
3 citizen journalism2
3. Citizen Journalism
  • What counts as ‘citizen journalism’?
  • Does citizen journalism have to have an oppositional, ‘leftist’ character?
  • Does it have to be an online form of journalism?
  • Social news or ‘metajournalism’ where people rate, comment on, tag and repost information - www.digg.com
3 citizen journalism3
3. Citizen Journalism
  • Should we restrict citizen journalism to content creators in contrast to forms of social news or metajournalism where people rate, comment, tag and repost information?- Journalism not just about the reporting of original material but also about interpreting, assessing and re-articulating material and in that sense metajournalism should be connected with new forms of journalism – citizen journalism and social news allow for new possibilities for citizen participation at various points along the chains of sense-making that shape news (Goode 2009, pp. 1290-1).
4 online journalism issues
4. Online Journalism Issues
  • Ownership – Proliferation of online sources means we could have loosening of media ownership laws but continuing mainstream public reliance on traditional news sources undermine such arguments.
  • Quality – Concern about lower journalistic standards due to high level of recycling and redistribution of news stories, and increased workloads of online, multi-skilling journalists due to difficulty of producing successful online business model and attracting sufficient advertising revenue.
4 online journalism issues1
4. Online Journalism Issues
  • Rise of citizen journalism and UGC lead to quality concerns about loosening controls of journalistic professionalism and ethics, greater speculation in reportage and less diligent regard for facts.
  • Concern that such contexts are shifting emphasis from news reportage to commentary and opinion.
4 online journalism issues2
4. Online Journalism Issues
  • Counter argument that online resources make investigative journalism easier (McNair 2009, pp. 150-1).
  • http://www.propublica.org
  • http://www.exaronews.com
5 wikileaks
5. WikiLeaks
  • http://wikileaks.org
  • The ‘world’s most dangerous website’
5 wikileaks1
5. WikiLeaks
  • Historical development of WikiLeaks reveals negotiation of the organisation’s identity, including its relationship to journalism.
  • In digital age the traditional whisteblower / journalist relationship has changed “with the whistleblower increasingly able to bypass the journalist altogether” (Allan 2013, p. 153).
5 wikileaks2
5. WikiLeaks
  • Initial use of ‘wiki’ suggested enabling website users to edit or comment on posted data but this was quickly abandoned (Allan 2013, p. 154-5).
  • WikiLeaks as “journalistic tool” in Schmidt’s 2007 Time article.
  • 2010 release of U.S. military Apache helicopter gunship footage of killings in Iraq saw WikiLeaks involved in decrypting and verifying footage saw it portrayed as “an Internet-savvy investigative journalism outfit” (Stray, cited in Allan 2013, p. 158).
5 wikileaks3
5. WikiLeaks
  • July 2010 release of Afghanistan war logs and collaboration with Guardian, the New York Times, and Der Spiegel.
  • Criticisms from U.S. government. WikiLeaks described as “not an objective news organisation” and “an organisation with an ideological agenda” by Senator Joe Lieberman.
  • Tension between WikiLeaks and newspaper collaborators over nature of relationship.
5 wikileaks4
5. WikiLeaks
  • WikiLeaks as “the world’s first stateless news organization” (Rosen, cited in Allan 2013, p. 164).
  • “We find the state, which holds the secrets but is powerless to prevent their release; the stateless news organisation, deciding how to release them; and the national newspaper in the middle, negotiating the terms of legitimacy between these two actors” (Rosen, cited in Allan 2013, p. 164).
  • WikiLeaks exposes mainstream journalism’s role in reproduction of normative order?
5 wikileaks5
5. WikiLeaks
  • Assange described himself as “a journalist and publisher and inventor”.
  • WikiLeaks as “muckraker”
  • WikiLeaks situated between source and publisher?
  • WikiLeaks as ‘scientific journalism’? – “whereby readers are afforded access to a whistleblower’s witnessing of original source material so as to determine for themselves its relative significance” (Allan 2013, p. 154).
  • Allan, S 2013, Citizen Witnessing: Revisioning Journalism in Times of Crisis, Polity, Cambridge.
  • Bruns, A. (2008) “Life beyond the public sphere: Towards a networked model for political deliberation”, Information Polity, vol. 13, pp. 65-79.
  • Goode, L. (2009) “Social news, citizen journalism and democracy”, New Media & Society, Vol. 11, No. 8, pp. 1287-1305.
  • McNair, B 2009, ‘Online journalism in the UK’, News and Journalism in the UK, 5thedn, Routledge, London.