Category Archives: Online journalism

Is social media use associated with more or less diverse news use?

By Richard Fletcher and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

In the wake of the US election result in November and earlier in the year the outcome of the UK referendum on the European Union, some have argued that the rise of social media and its increasing role as a source of news have led to a world where people get less and less diverse information.

The terminology varies—echo chambers, filter bubbles, etc.—but the underlying concern is the same: that the rise of social media means that people get less diverse news from a narrower range of sources.

But is that actually the case? At the moment, we know surprisingly little about how people get news via social media, and how social media platforms might shape news consumption. Much of the current discussion is driven more by worry than by evidence.

Data from the 2015 Reuters Institute Digital News Report might shed some light on what is going on. It suggests that social media users in fact use significantly more different sources of news than non-users, thus challenging the filter bubble hypothesis.

While both social media use and social media functionality have evolved since the survey was in the field in 2015, it provides an important pointer as to the implications of social media use, because it helps us distinguish between the news diet of (1) people who intentionally use social media to get news (News users), (2) people who use social media for other purposes and come across news in the process (the Incidentally exposed), and (3) people who never see any news on social media, or do not use it at all (Non-users).

When we compare the number of online news sources (e.g. BBC News, the Mail Online, the New York Times app or website, etc.) each of these three groups said they had used in the last week, and compared them to those who do not use social media, we see that social media use is in fact associated with being exposed to significantly higher number of online news sources.

Importantly, both those social media users who use the platforms for news (News users) and those who use social media for other reasons and in the process come across news (the Incidentally exposed) get news from significantly more different online news sources than non-users.

The data presented in Figure 1 (for the UK) and Figure 2 (US) below clearly show how those who do not use social media (the blue bar of Non-users) on average come across news from significantly fewer different online sources than those who do use social media (the red bar of News users and the yellow bar of the Incidentally exposed). The figure for the incidentally exposed is particularly important because the data suggests that social media users typically receive a ‘boost’ in the number of news sources they use each week, even if they are not actually trying to consume more news.

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Furthermore, Figures 1 and 2 also show that the difference between those who intentionally use social media for news and those who are incidentally exposed is quite small; usually smaller than the gap between non-users and the incidentally exposed. In the case of Facebook in the UK, the gap is almost zero.

Put differently, the effect of incidental exposure is in some cases powerful enough to close gaps in news consumption between those who are motivated or interested enough to actively seek it out using social media, and those who use it for other purposes.

The data presented above are raw figures, but the patterns identified remain consistent even when we use regression analysis to control for demographic differences such as age, gender, income and education, as well as people’s level of trust and interest in the news. Social media use is thus associated with more diverse news use.

Of course, in some cases, using more different sources of online news will not in itself guarantee a more diverse news diet. It is possible that all the sources used by some respondents reflect the same basic political or ideological stance. A few respondents may use a high number of different but very similar, very partisan sources of news and thus still live in a filter bubble or echo chamber of sorts. Our data only captures the number of sources respondents say they have used in the past week, not the content they have actually consumed.

Nonetheless, in most cases, using significantly more different sources of online news is likely to result in a more diverse news diet, and social media users—both those who intentionally use social media for news and those who use the platforms for other purposes but come across news while on them—use more different sources of online news than people who do not use social media.

New edited book on local journalism out

Local journalismLocal Journalism: the decline of newspapers and the rise of digital media, has just been published by I.B. Tauris. It contains a range of analysis of local news media ecosystems, relations between local journalists and various other actors  in local communities, and of hyperlocal news sites across a range of high income democracies in the Western Europe and North America.

I edited this book because local journalism is important, because it is often overlooked by academics as well as in discussions around the future of journalism, and because the contributors to the book had some really interesting things to say about how local journalism is developing, including in terms of differences and similarities across various countries.

The first chapter is available for free download here, and the book can be purchased through the usual routes including the publisher or Amazon.

Full description, nice words of praise from Bob Franklin and David Ryfe, as well as the list of contributors and the table of contents all below.

Local Journalism: the decline of newspapers and the rise of digital media

Edited by: Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

For more than a century, local journalism has been taken almost for granted. But the twenty-first century has brought major challenges. The newspaper industry that has historically provided most local coverage is in decline and it is not yet clear whether digital media will sustain new forms of local journalism.

This book provides an international overview of the challenges facing changing forms of local journalism today. It identifies the central role that diminished newspapers still play in local media ecosystems, analyses relations between local journalists and politicians, government officials, community activists and ordinary citizens, and examines the uneven rise of new forms of digital local journalism. Together, the chapters present a multi-faceted portrait of the precarious present and uncertain future of local journalism in the Western world.

“This is a detailed, research-based and comparative account of developments in local news and journalism at a time of structural change and transition in local news ecosystems. It reasserts the significance of local news and journalism for local communities and their economic, political, social and cultural life and sets a benchmark for future studies of local news and journalism during a period of change and uncertainty.”

Bob Franklin, Professor of Journalism Studies, Cardiff University

“Journalism is changing, nowhere more rapidly than in locally produced news.  This book provides an on-the-ground glimpse of these changes as they are taking place across Europe, the UK, and the United States.  An invaluable snapshot of a fast-moving process…and an important touchstone for research yet to be done!”

David Ryfe, Director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa

The contributors to the book are Andrew Williams (Cardiff University), Bengt Engan (University of Nordland), C. W. Anderson (CUNY-CSI), Dave Hart (Birmingham City University), David Domingo (Université Libre de Bruxelles), Emmanuel Marty (University of Nice Sophia Antipolis), Florence Le Cam (Université Libre de Bruxelles), Franck Bousquet (University of Toulouse), Jerome Turner (Birmingham City University), Julie Firmstone (University of Leeds), Marco van Kerkhoven (Utrecht University of Applied Sciences), Matthew Powers (University of Washington), Nancy Thumim (University of Leeds), Nikos Smyrnaios (University of Toulouse), Oliver Baisnee (Sciences Po, Toulouse), Piet Bakker (Utrecht University of Applied Sciences), Sandra Vera Zambrano (Sciences Po, Toulouse), and Stephen Coleman (University of Leeds).

Table of contents

  1. The Uncertain Future of Local Journalism (Rasmus Kleis Nielsen)

PART I – Local media ecosystems

  1. The News Crisis Compared: The Impact of the Journalism Crisis on Local News Ecosystems in Toulouse, France and Seattle, USA (Matthew Powers, Sandra Vera Zambrano, and Olivier Baisnée)
  2. Local newspapers as keystone media: the increased importance of diminished newspapers for local political information environments (Rasmus Kleis Nielsen)
  3. How News Travels: A Comparative Study of Local Media Ecosystems in Leeds (UK) and Philadelphia (US) (C.W. Anderson, Stephen Coleman, and Nancy Thumim)

PART II – Local journalism and its interlocutors

  1. The plurality of journalistic identities in local controversies (Florence Le Cam and David Domingo)
  2. Rethinking local communicative spaces: reflecting on the implications of digital media and citizen journalism for the role of local journalism in engaging citizens in local democracies (Julie Firmstone and Stephen Coleman)
  3. Perceived relevance of and trust in local media (Bengt Engan)

PART III – New forms of local media

  1. Between journalistic diversity and economic constraints: local pure players in Southern France (Nikos Smyrnaios, Emmanuel Marty, and Franck Bousquet)
  2. Hyperlocal with a Mission? Motivation, strategy, engagement (Marco van Kerkhoven and Piet Bakker)
  3. Filling the News Hole? UK community news and the crisis in local journalism (Andy Williams, Dave Harte, and Jerome Turner)

What are the keystone media in our information environment?

Later this month, I’m presenting a paper called “The Increasing Importance of Diminished Newspapers for Local Journalism?” at a conference on local journalism I’m organizing with Robert Picard at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

In the paper, I show how despite the fact that it is no longer a “mainstream medium” in terms of audience reach, the local newspaper in the community I study (Næstved, a mid-sized provincial Danish municipality with a population of 81,000) plays an absolutely central role in the wider local political information environment as by far the most important producer of ongoing, original, independently reported news about local affairs.

From the content I have coded, the newspaper accounts for 64% of all coverage of local politics, even in a community also served by two licence-fee funded regional public service broadcasters, several weekly freesheets, a community radio station, and shot through with national and international media as well as global online media like Google and Facebook. Furthermore, much of the (limited) local news content published by other media can be traced back to the newspaper.

I call the newspaper a “keystone medium” in the local political information environment, drawing an analogy to the idea of “keystone species” in conservation biology and zoology. There, the term is meant to capture the critical importance of particular species, who despite being only a small part of a larger interconnected ecology play an outsize role in defining the state and structure of the wider environment. In parallel, I define “keystone media” not in terms of their reach or ubiquity, but in terms of their systemic importance, their importance not for the majority of media users, but for the wider information environment they live in.

I’m thinking the notion of “keystone media” is a useful way of capturing the outsize importance of some entities in a wider environment and that it is an idea that works not only at the local level, but also nationally and internationally (think about news agencies, for example).

I’m not the first to point to the empirical fact that newspapers in many places play a central role in the production of news at the local level. In the US, for example the Project for Excellence in Journalism has done this in a study of Baltimore, Chris Anderson has done this in his great book on Philadelphia, and a series of community information case studies orchestrated by Tom Glaysier when he was still at the New America Foundation has done it.

But what I wanted to do is to make two particular points based on a close study on what sources of information are actually used in my case community and the information that these sources in turn produce and publish.

(1) Though the local newspaper is diminished in terms of reach and resources, it is ironically becoming more important for local information provision as other media pull out and cut their investment and no new providers have emerged. This is not simply a point about volume of production, but also about the environment in which things are produced.

(2) In community case studies done in the US people have generally found a vast ecology of other media outlets reusing and commenting upon news originally produced by local newspapers. That is not the case in the community studied here. Though several of the most widely used media sources of information about local politics in the community (including the regional public service broadcasters) in part base their coverage on stories first covered by the local newspaper, most of what the local newspaper covers does not make it any further in the news “food chain”–it is covered there, and nowhere else. Again, this is not simply a point about the newspaper, but about the environment in which it exists.

The notion of “keystone media” is meant to capture the structural (ecological, if you will) consequences of there being a newspaper in this community rather than there not being one (as in conservation biology).

The true importance of the paper in this community case study lies not in its role as a source of information seen from the users’ point of view (though about a third of the respondents in my survey data read the paper, very few identify the newspaper as their only important source of information about local politics), but as a producer of information that (a) matters because a small minority of it underlies the content produced by other media more widely used in the community but also, importantly, (b) matters because it is there at all, even when it has a limited readership and is not re-used and commented on elsewhere. (And we know from much media research that news coverage of public affairs can affect how politicians and government authorities behave even when the coverage does not routinely reach a large audience–the shadow of publicity is sometimes enough.)

In a time of more and more media, the local newspaper in this case play a structuring role for the entire local political information environment because–though it is only one of many media used as a source of information by citizens, and not a particularly widely used one–it is increasingly the only organization doing ongoing on-the-ground reporting on local public affairs. (Despite Danes having some of the highest levels of internet use and digital device ownership in the world, as well as being avid “joiners” in Robert Putnam’s parlance, active in any number of civic associations, Denmark has not seen the emergence very many significant non-profit or hyperlocal online-only news sources.)

In short, it plays a role as what I am currently thinking of as that of “keystone media” in our political information environments.

The full paper abstract is below. The paper is based on data from a larger research project on local political communication and municipal democracy in a changing media environment that I am pursuing with Nina Blom Andersen and Pernille Almlund from Roskilde University. This is work in progress, so I’d be curious to hear of people working with related ideas or people who think this is nonsense.

The increased importance of diminished newspapers for local journalism? – a case study of sources and producers of information in a digitally connected community

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

Roskilde University and the University of Oxford

Paper for “Local journalism around the world: professional practices, economic foundations, and political implications”, February 27-28, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford.

ABSTRACT

On the basis of a mixed-method study combining survey data, content analysis, and semi-structured interviews done in a strategically chosen case community in Denmark, this paper shows that the local daily newspaper, despite its diminished audience reach and editorial resources, has become an increasingly important node in the circulation of independent and professionally produced news about local affairs as other news organizations have pulled out of the locality and no new providers have emerged. Citizens in the community studied have access to more and more media, but less and less news, most of it originating with a single news organization—the local daily newspaper. The study suggests that local newspapers—reporting across platforms but still sustained by their eroding print business—despite the well-known challenges they face in a changing and increasingly digital media environment, despite their dwindling editorial resources, and despite their diminished reach, may thus ironically become more important for local journalism as our media environment change, because they increasingly are the only organizations doing ongoing on-the-ground reporting on local public affairs. They are not so much mainstream media—for the majority does not rely directly on them for information, and most of what they produce is disseminated no farther than to their own readers—as keystone media in a local information environment, playing a critical role in the production and circulation of information with ecological consequences well beyond their own audience.

Local journalism around the world: professional practices, economic foundations, and political implications

Below the program for a conference I’m organizing with Professor Robert G. Picard at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism on local journalism, to be held at the end of the month. Tons of interesting stuff being presented, much to be discussed as we tend to focus on developments in international and national journalism though of course much of the profession and industry remains local and regional and journalism plays an important role in many local communities.

Local journalism around the world: professional practices, economic foundations, and political implications

February 26-28, 2014RISJ

Conference hashtag #localjourn

 

Conference overview

Most journalism is practiced—and most news media organizations are based—at the local level. Yet journalism studies overwhelmingly focus on national and international journalism and most debates over the future of journalism remains oriented towards a limited number of exceptional and often nationally or internationally-oriented news media organizations. This focus limits our ability to understand journalism and its role in society. This conference focuses on local journalism around the world, exploring professional practices, economic foundations, and the social and political implications of local journalism as it is actually practiced today.

The conference is focused in particular on how local journalism is impacted by current technological changes, changes in the media industries, and changed in local communities and local governments. It includes both case studies and comparative analysis, both within-country comparisons between different regions and cross-country comparisons between local journalism in different national contexts.

The conference is focused on empirically-based work that advances our understanding of local journalism both within and across individual countries, and brings together 32 papers presenting research on 16 countries around the world.

The presenters deal with topics including the work conditions and everyday practices of local journalists, relations between local journalists and local business and political elites, the role of local media as part of communities, the journalistic, economic, and democratic track-record of locally-oriented media of various kinds, the role of social networking sites and new mobile media in local news production and use, how existing local and regional news organizations are dealing with current changes in the media business, and with new alternatives to established forms of local journalism (including hyperlocal websites and local non-profits).

Conference organizers

Professor Robert G. Picard, Director of Research, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Associate Professor of Political Communication, Roskilde University and Research Fellow, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

 

Program Details

Thursday February 27th (8.30-18.00)

Panel I – Local communicative spaces and media systems (9.15 – 11)

Rethinking local communicative spaces (Julie Firmstone and Stephen Coleman)

Normalization of journalism in local and regional American news systems (David Ryfe)

Increased importance of diminished newspapers for local journalism? (Rasmus Kleis Nielsen)

Local pure players in Southern France between journalistic diversity and economic constraints (Nikos Smyrnaios, Emmanuel Marty & Franck Bousquet)

Panel II – Local media ecosystems (11.15-13.00)

Mapping Local Media Ecosystems: A Comparative, Longitudinal, Cross-National Perspective (C. W. Anderson, Nancy Thumim, and Stephen Coleman)

Adaptation and innovation in metropolitan journalism: A comparative analysis of Toulouse, France and Seattle, Washington (USA) (Matt Powers, Sandra Vera Zambrano and Olivier Baisnee)

Narrating multiculturalism in Brussels (Florence Le Cam and David Domingo)

Ecosystem model applied to local media markets (Piet Bakker)

Panel III – Local journalism and local communities (14.00-15.45)

Are local newspaper chains local media? (Lenka Waschkova Cisarova)

Is it really homegrown? Understanding ‘local’ news in the digital age (Kristy Hess and Lisa Waller)

“Local” and “news” redefined (Bengt Engan)

Value of Hyperlocal Community News (Andy Williams, Dave Hart, Jerome Turner, Glyn Mottershead)

Panel IV – Local journalism opportunities (16.00-18.00)

Local identity in Print and Online News (Helle Sjoevag)

Localism as the new -ism? (Birgit Roe Mathiesen)

Local journalism–how online opportunities change professional practices (Sonja Kretzschmar and Verena Wassink)

I would cover this scandal if only I had the time (Roman Hummel, Susanne Kirchoff and Dimitri Prander)

Exploitation of technological developments from the Greek regional newspapers (Ioannis Angelou, Vasileios Katsaras and Andreas Veglis)

Friday February 28th (8.30-16.30)

Panel V – The business of local journalism (9.00-11.00)

Business approach and motivation of hyperlocals in the Netherlands (Marco van Kerkhoven and Piet Bakker)

Re-Inventing the Business of Community Journalism: New Models for the Digital Era (Penny Abernathy)

Evaluating Strategic Approaches to Competitive Displacement (Dobin Yim)

Local journalism as a business: comparative perspectives on commercial television stations in Serbia (Aleksanra Krstic)

Successful business models in local dailies (Antonis Skamnakis and George Tsouvakas)

Panel VI – Local journalism practices (11.15-13.15)

A print crisis or a local crisis (Ingela Wadbring and Annika Bergsstrom)

Local data journalism for newspapers in Germany (Andre Haller)

Participatory journalism in local newspapers in Germany (Annika Sehl)

Regional networking or not–use of Facebook by Dutch regional news media and their audiences (Sanne Hille and Piet Bakker)

Hyper local online media and influence of local politics in Dubrovnik (Mato Brautovic)

Panel VII – Local journalism in transition (14.00-16.00)

Intent and Practice are Seldom the Same Thing–study of third-sector journalism in UK and Germany (Daniel Mutibwa)

Interpreted Meaning of the Global Journalist (David Bockino)

YourAnonNews and Hashtag Leverage (Jonathan Albright and Amelia Acker)

Local media in a post-democratization context: the case study of local commercial radio in Serbia (Ana Milojevic and Aleksandra Ugrinic)

Role of social networking sites in Australian journalism production (Saba Bebawi and Diana Bossio)

Varieties of online gatekeeping

This week, I’ll be at the Rethinking Journalism II workshop organized by Chris Peters and others at Groningen University in the Netherlands.

I’ll speak Friday about varieties of online gatekeeping, and how we might analyze them. I don’t have the answer, but I’m working around ways of asking the question in a way that is intellectually interesting and practically useful, so I’m looking forward to feedback and suggestions, from the workshop participants, and from others interested in the topic.

My starting point is the notion of “gatekeeping”, used by journalism scholars to capture how news organizations filter information before it is passed on to users, and the observation that news organizations no longer occupy as central or singular a role as they have in the past in terms of doing this filtering work, as people increasingly rely on search engines like Google and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter as ways of accessing news.

Sometimes, people will talk about these digital offerings as ways of getting “direct” access to information, as examples of “disintermediation”, but of course, Google and Facebook too filters information, based on for example the PageRank algorithm and the EdgeRank algorithm. If we want to understand how journalism works today and how people get informed about public affairs, we need to understand both these new digital intermediaries as forms of online gatekeepers, and we need to examine their interplay with more traditional forms of editorial gatekeeping.

Below is an extended version of the abstract I’ve submitted. I’ll be working on this in the spring, both on getting the question right and on actually making progress on fleshing it out empirically, so any and all comments are welcome.

Varieties of online gatekeeping: a cross-national comparative analysis of news media websites, search engines, and social networking sites as gateways to news

By Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (Roskilde University and the University of Oxford)

News media organizations like newspapers and broadcasters have long functioned as gatekeepers between news and audiences, but with the rise of digital media, the search engines and social networking sites that are central to how most people navigate online increasingly complement news media organizations as gatekeepers shaping what is displayed as news.

Journalism scholars have traditionally focused on the role of journalists and news media as gatekeepers (see e.g. Shoemaker et al, 2009), but a growing number of researchers (e.g. Barzilai-Nahon, 2008; Chin-Fook and Simmonds, 2001; Hintz, 2012; Introna and Nissenbaum, 2000) have highlighted the need for a broader approach to gatekeeping in wider networked information environments where technology is increasingly integral to traditional gatekeeping practices (Anderson, 2011; Thurman, 2011; Coddington and Holton, 2013; Meraz and Papacharissi, 2013) and where non-journalistic actors too serve as gates between news and audiences.

In this paper, I adopt such a broader approach and outline three varieties of online gatekeeping that each integrate different technologies in the gatekeeping process, but do so in different ways and for different purposes. The three varieties are (1) editorially-based gatekeeping processes (typically defining what information is displayed as news on news media websites), (2) link-based gatekeeping processes (the core of how search engines like Google select what information is displayed as news), and (3) affinity-based forms of gatekeeping (the operating principle behind how social networking sites like Facebook determine what information to display in users’ news feed).

Journalists, often working in legacy news media organizations, still play a key gatekeeping role in terms of defining what information constitutes “news”, and news media websites remain amongst the most important gateways to news online. But they are increasingly supplemented by other, second-order online gatekeepers like search engines and social networking sites that, while rarely producing original content defined as “news”, increasingly serve as alternative and supplementary gateways shaping, through link-based or affinity-based gatekeeping processes, what information people come across as news online. Even as journalists and news media may feel they are being “dis-intermediated”, new digital intermediaries are arising (Pariser, 2011; Foster, 2012; Nielsen, 2013).

On the basis of the Reuters Institute Digital News study (Newman and Levy, 2013), a representative survey of online news users conducted in 2013, I proceed from these three varieties of online gatekeeping to present a cross-national comparative analysis of their relative importance in seven developed democracies with different media systems (Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the US).

The comparative analysis demonstrates significant variation in the relative importance of each type of online gatekeeper from country to country as well as in-country variation by age, but also documents that search engines and social networking sites (overwhelmingly Google and Facebook) have in less than a decade come to rival news media websites in importance as gateways to news across all the seven countries covered.

Editorially-based online gatekeepers are the most widely used way of finding news online in countries like Denmark and the UK (with strong newspaper brands and public service broadcasters), link-based online gatekeepers (overwhelmingly Google) represent the most widely used gateway to news in countries like France and Italy (with weaker newspapers and public service broadcasters), and affinity-based online gatekeepers (most importantly Facebook) are the most widely used gateway to news amongst online news users in Spain (currently experiencing a major crisis of institutional legitimacy impacting legacy media as well as political institutions).

Editorially-based gatekeepers will remain important for the foreseeable future (especially as television remains the number one source of news for most people in most countries). But as online news become a more and more important part of people’s cross-media news habits in most countries, link-based and affinity-based online gatekeepers are likely to become more important parts of our networked news environment, raising new questions concerning what media pluralism means in an increasingly convergent world, concerning what information is made available to citizens and how, and concerning the future journalism and its role in democracy.

Future of Journalism, Cardiff Conference round-up

I spent the last two days in Cardiff for Bob Franklin’s biannual journalism studies conference hosted by the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC). Lots of good stuff and great to see folks and catch up on interesting work being done around the world. (Full program here, abstracts of all papers here.)

Three take-aways from panels and discussions I attended (more at #FoJ2013 on Twitter for those interested)—

First, local and regional journalism and news information environments–

It was very refreshing to see several very good pieces of empirical research on the particular questions concerning local and regional journalism and news information environments in different contexts. I was particularly impressed with the work being done by Andy Williams and colleagues on local and hyperlocal journalism in the UK, Julie Firmstone and Stephen Coleman’s work-in-progress on the local information environment in Leeds (including studies of the city council, legacy news, and new digital sites), as well as research by Piet Bakker and colleagues from the Netherlands on developments there. Very good stuff. It would be great to see more studies from other countries so we can develop a more comparative understanding of what is going on with local news and information environments in different contexts. (Some work has been done in the US too.)

Second,the ubiquity of the New York Times–

It is clear that the New York Times continues to hold enormous sway over the imagination of both journalists and journalism studies scholars thinking about digital and digital strategy. As Piet Bakker rightly remarked after Robert Picard’s keynote lecture, “everyone talks about the same three examples: the New York Times, financial newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, and the Guardian.” Of course, all of these are highly unusual cases, from which we can probably learn relatively little about how digital is developing and working out for other news organizations, including top titles in small national markets (that is, much of Western Europe), but also, apropos my point above, local and regional newspapers like the Western Mail in Wales (studied by Williams et al), the Yorkshire Post (studied by Firmstone and Coleman), and their equivalents in other countries. As I’ve argued before—as many others have—even if we have to recognize the empirical fact that the New York Times figures prominently in how lots of people talk and think about digital strategy, the actual news organization and company itself probably can’t even tell us much about how other US newspapers are faring, let alone how newspapers elsewhere are faring. There’s an analogy here to the role for example the Barack Obama campaign plays in discussions of digital politics. (As Oscar Westlund pointed out in one discussion, it’s well known from studies of organizational learning that you often make your biggest mistakes when you learn from the wrong examples.)

Third,lots of good, theoretically and methodologically diverse, work on digital–

Journalism studies continues to catch up on digital, lots of good work on innovation, the integration of new technologies in newsrooms and work practices, how ordinary people engage with news etc through digital, and also some work across platforms that takes digital seriously without giving up on legacy or ignoring legacy media’s enduring importance. The field of journalism studies, from my impression, has done a better job of overcoming sharp analogue/digital distinctions and “old media”/”new media” binaries than many other areas of media and communication studies including, I hate to admit as someone who also has an intellectual home there, parts of political communication research. In part, it is good to see how a conference like this draws not only people who consider themselves journalism studies scholars, but also a sizable contingent of audience researchers (very interesting papers by Regina Marchi from the US and by Tim Groot Kormelink and Irene Costera Meier from the Netherlands on tailor-made news), a few media economists, people studying management, etc. This kind of diversity is surely a necessary part of understanding journalism today.

Post-industrial journalism across the western world plus predictions for 2013

I’ve written a comment on the Columbia Journalism School/Tow Center for Digital Journalism report on “Post-Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present”  for the Nieman Journalism Lab site discussing similarities and differences between the US and Europe, and also contributed a short piece for their series of predictions for what the year 2013 will bring for news/journalism, basically suggesting we’ll see more of the same plus at least one major surprise.