The citizen’s watchdog role in times of crisis: Study of the practices of the gatewatcher and the meta-journalism in social news websites

TitleThe citizen’s watchdog role in times of crisis: Study of the practices of the gatewatcher and the meta-journalism in social news websites
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Martínez, S.
Affiliation (1st Author)Open University of Catalonia
Section or WGCommunity Communication Section
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodeCoCT3a
Slot Code (Keyword)CoCT3a
Time of Session14:00-15:30
Session TitleAlternative Journalisms 2: Participation, Interaction, and Citizen Journalism
Submission ID5082

The horizontality allowed by Internet and the emergence of Web 2.0 enable greater access to public communication. The social component becomes an exchange factor in the relation the user has with information (Pew-Internet, 2010) and social news websites appear as spaces where sharing, ranking and /or commenting on news. In this context the concept of gatewatcher is developed (Bruns, 2003) and the influence of the user’s activity in the thematic agenda-setting starts to be considered (García-de-Torres et al, 2009) all this despite the traditional agents "continue to exert gatekeeping powers" (Goode, 2009). The informative function of media as services that disseminate content of public interest is again in the center of the debate. Previous studies about users’ comments discover a critical attitude towards media and journalists (García-de-Torres et al, 2012) and the value of citizen contributions to complete the news agenda (Antony, Thomas, 2010). These are messages that, following the description of Meneses (2010:177), are related to the meta-journalism tradition as they refer to the profession, to the industry and market information or even to the relationship between media and other social actors. In order to analyze the watchdog role played by the user in the current crisis environment, a study on two levels is made. The former focuses on establishing the thematic content promoted by users on social news websites, specifically on the most voted news, to determine the impact of the crisis on citizens' agenda. Second, a qualitative analysis of the comments on that news is made in order to identify messages of meta-journalism and go in depth with their study. It is expected to register a high impact of the crisis on the information promoted by the users (making coincide public interest and interest of the audience), as well as to observe a poor implementation of meta- journalism and define the specific profile of user’s watchdog role. References Antony, M.G.; Thomas, R. J. (2010). This is citizen journalism at its finest: YouTube and the public sphere in the Oscar Grant shooting incident. New Media & Society, 12(8), 1280-1296. Bruns, A.(2003) “Gatewatching, not gatekeeping: Collaborative online news”. Media International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy: quarterly journal of media research and resources, 107, 31-44. García-de-Torres, E. et al(2009). “La agenda de los usuarios: una análisis de la participación en la página principal y la sección local de y”. Pérez Herrero, P. et al  (Coord.). Estudios de periodística XIV: Periodismo ciudadano, posibilidades y riesgos para el discurso informative, 287-300 García-de-Torres, E. et al(2012). “Este vídeo habría que enseñarlo a la televisión”. Un estudio de los vídeos más populares de la primavera valenciana publicados en YouTube (elementos narrativos y valoración de los usuarios)”. XVII Congreso Internacional de la Sociedad Española de Periodística Goode, L.(2009) “Social news, citizen journalism and democracy”. New Media & Society, 11(8), 1287-1305 Meneses, M.D.(2010). “Aportciones del metaperiodismo al estudio de la prensa y del periodismo en contextos históricos delimitados. La transición democrática.” Zer, 15(29), 175-190 Pew-Internet(2010). “Understanding the participatory news consumer”.

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