IR13 Preconference Workshop, The Internet, Mobile Media, and Journalism: Technologies of News in the 21st Century

This afternoon’s workshop was a great start to the conference. It’s always fun to sit in on workshops that are almost-but-not-quite my area, partly for the additional connections to my research, but also to spend some time learning about entirely new areas. Here are a few rather sketchy notes from today’s session (these are as much for my future reference as for an audience, so please excuse the many gaps):

Sheetal Agarwal‘s work on ‘Online journalists’ professional norms and work routines’ draws on in-depth semi-structured interviews to look at how online journalists perceive their work. This research shows important differences between the practices, norms, and values of journalists working for print editions and those working for online news sites (even for those working for the online editions of established news organisations). For example, journalists working for online sources tend to reject the notion of neutral and objective news coverage, arguing that the pretence of neutrality hides the reality of subjective coverage from the audience. These journalists are also working in institutional contexts where time pressures and a lack of resources mean that there’s little to no fact-checking of online material. There’s also a division between how those working for the online editions of traditional news sources and those working for online-only news sources (particularly ones like Gawker) identify: many working for the latter prefer not to identify as journalists, defining their roles differently (such as ‘bloggers’ or ‘someone who does what I love and shares it’).

Andrew Herman‘s work draws on a range of theorists, some of whom I’m familiar with (such as Benedict Anderson) while others were new to me (including Siegfried Zielinksi and Margaret Morse). I was particularly interested in his discussions of ‘consuming’ news as an embodied experience: how does reading the news online, and particularly on mobile devices, change the experience of the news? And what is a useful methodology for understanding how we use mobile devices to read the news now in the context of the history of media (and different media platforms)?

Holly Kruse‘s ‘Blogging horse racing’ looked at women’s involvement in sports writing about horse racing. While the specifics of the area are quite foreign to me (I don’t think I’ve ever watched a horse race), it brought up some great questions about the structures of journalism (sports reporting is the most male-dominated area of journalism) and the ways in which these can be subverted (blogging provides an avenue for women to become involved in reporting on horse-racing). There’s a lot of fascinating work to unpack here.  For example, Cruse noted that while many popular blogs written by men look specifically at betting, none of the blogs written by women do – they tend to look more at the horses themselves.

Tama‘s News and trolls: Olympic games coverage in the twenty-first century provided a useful reminder about the need to distinguish between trolling as it was defined in early Internet research (and practice) and the way the term is used today. While trolling used to refer primarily to anonymous or pseudonymous attempts to create disruption for disruption’s sake, today it’s used much more broadly to refer even to activities which are goal-directed (as most of the complaints about the Olympic coverage were).

Finally, Lucy Morieson used the case of Catherine Deveny’s dismissal to look at the changing relationship between consumers and producers of news media, arguing that it demonstrated a model in which the audience has increasing power, albeit a populist power shaped by market forces.

My apologies if I’ve misrepresented anyone’s work – I’m afraid I’m still quite jetlagged. Do feel free to comment and correct me!

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