Back from a couple of interesting days at the 2014 ECREA conference in Lisbon.
I was on a panel organized by Jakob Linaa Jensen called “News Across Media : The Production and Consumption of News in a Cross-Media Perspective”, along with Bente Kalsnes, Mads Hvas Jensen, Einar Thorsen, and Jacob Ørmen.
Below is the abstract of the presentation (developed with Kim Schrøder) that I gave.
Changing forms of cross-media news consumption in Western Europe
Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (Roskilde University and the University of Oxford) & Kim Schrøder (Roskilde University)
News use across Western Europe is rapidly changing as traditional sources of news are increasingly supplemented and sometimes supplanted by digital media, and as relatively passive forms of media use are sometimes complemented with new forms of sharing, commenting, and creating.
In this paper, we analyze similarities and differences in news media use across Western Europe on the basis of data from a ten-country international survey (the Reuters Institute Digital News Report), examining, amongst other issues, the rise of mobile news as smartphone penetration in the span of a few years has surpassed fifty percent in many countries—including countries like Italy and Spain where internet use has otherwise lagged behind the EU15 average. The region is intellectually interesting because countries in Western Europe, despite their relative economic, media-technological, and political similarity continue to differ when it comes to how news is used, providing amble opportunities for comparative work on “political information environments” (Curran et al, 2009; Aalberg et al, 2010; Esser et al, 2012).
Based on a “most-similar” comparison looking specifically at data from within Western Europe, we identify three particularly important similarities in how news is used across the region, namely (1) the continuing centrality of “old” or “renewed” (Chadwick, 2013) media, (2) the parallel rise in the overall importance of digital media in an increasingly cross-media news environment, and (3) the increasing centrality of US-based global digital intermediaries like Google, Facebook, and Apple. We also, however, document significant country-to-country differences in the degree to which (1) citizens have embraced more active and participatory forms of news use and (2) the degree to which the digital incarnation of legacy news media retain a dominant position in terms of digital news provision.
We suggest that the differences identified can be related in part to interactions between new technological developments and inherited differences in the “media systems” (Hallin and Mancini, 2004) and “media cultures” (Hepp and Couldry, 2009) found in the countries in question, as well as to differences in overall confidence in the political institutions that most news coverage focuses on (Norris, 2011).