Characteristics of citizen journalism versus professional journalism in TV: a comparison on the basis of a survey of citizen and professional journalists

TitleCharacteristics of citizen journalism versus professional journalism in TV: a comparison on the basis of a survey of citizen and professional journalists
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Sehl, A., and M. Steinbrecher
Affiliation (1st Author)TU Dortmund University, Institute of Journalism
Section or WGParticipatory Communication Research Section
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodePCRT4b
Slot Code (Keyword)PCRT4b
Time of Session16:00-17:30
Session TitleParticipatory communication in practice: Empirically based studies
Submission ID5598

Whilst initial studies into participatory journalism are particularly concerned with what is offered online, for television a desideratum exists for research. Consequently, our study looks at the first participatory television channel of its type in Germany; nrwision, the TV channel broadcasted in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia on the digital cable network. For this study the channel is used as a “participatory laboratory”, in order to examine three research questions: 1) Which characteristics do lay-suppliers, as well as professional journalists, ascribe respectively to citizen productions or professional journalism? 2) What motivates lay-suppliers to participate in the programme of “nrwision”? 3) Which properties do lay-suppliers rather associate with “nrwision” and which ones with the general opportunities for participation on the social web? The nrwision learning channel was introduced in 2009 by the state media authority of North Rhine-Westphalia. The media policy behind this project includes the following aims: to guarantee democratic access to television, to contribute to the journalistic diversity of the media scene and to increase the media skills of contributors. In contrast to its earlier open channels, nrwision also provides an editorial programming team of professional journalists. These professionals should serve to motivate participation, contribute to the qualification of participants by means of individual feedback and ensure a minimum standard of programme quality. With this concept, the learning channel is pursuing a third route between purely professional journalism which largely dispenses with interaction with the public and fully autonomous citizen journalism without the benefit of professional editing. Methodically, our study is based on a quantitative survey of the professional journalists in the programme editing team and the programme contributors. This approach is used to explore the following factors: reciprocal expectations of programme editing team and programme contributors, the subject areas of motivation and topic interests, and the perceived characteristics of this model of audience participation in television in comparison to the social web. The findings show that overall, it becomes evident that the traditional characteristics of journalism are rather ascribed to professional journalism, on the part of both the suppliers and the programme editors, e. g. topicality or neutrality of information. The strengths of citizen productions, on the other hand, are, among others, perceived within the personal perspective, according to both sides. Furthermore, programme contributors also differentiate precisely between nrwision and the social web. While they see that nrwision can add to their experience by extending their journalistic skills and by providing a venue in which to receive feedback and compliments, they emphasise the aspect of cross-linking and a broader audience that they can obtain through the social web. The findings on nrwision can help initiate a general discussion about which participatory strategies can be helpful for television in the age of the social web.

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