Users’ participation in news media websites has attracted great attention by academia in recent years. Nevertheless, studies about participatory journalism have traditionally been focused on the study of the participatory options offered by news media, or the attitudes of journalists towards the participatory options offered to the users. Just in recent years research started to be focused on the users themselves and their attitudes towards being involved in online participatory practices. This research presents the findings of a qualitative study based on focus groups conducted in Spain about citizens’ attitudes in relation to the participatory options offered by news media websites. Results point towards a general critique about how news media are implementing online participation, despite being news media websites “natural” online environments to foster participatory energies and the main spaces where citizens gather information about public issues. Focus groups also showed a minor interest in options of content production or content personalization, together with a higher demand for suitable spaces for public debate and interaction with journalists or the newsroom.
The world of communication is at a turning point, as technological advances and, more specifically, the digitization processes that began at the turn of the century brought many opportunities. At the beginning of the century, when the web was in the process of being established as the fourth largest media platform, processes related to the evolution of techniques and systems became prominent, and became a testament to the improvement and innovation of the media sector. Twenty years on from the beginning of the great innovation revolution brought by the web, we are still evolving today thanks to technological innovations that, in turn, pose new challenges or needs for change.
In little over a decade, essential concepts in research on communication have become zombie concepts (Beck & Willms,2004) and are no longer effective for understanding the profound transformation that has taken place with the arrival of the internet. Public sphere, deliberation, audiences, public…, the academic literature has oscillated between an initial optimism about the potential for strengthening democracy of communication technologies to a critical scepticism. This text reviews the academic literature with regard to the forms of social deliberation adopted in the context of the media and social networks and its impact on the public sphere.
Social media has been increasingly used to gather and share news stories from mainstream news sites. This article aims to extend the analysis to the public interactions between citizens and media on Twitter after the airplane accident of Germanwings’ flight 9525, in which citizens’ eyewitnessing role was minimized. Thematic and interpretative analysis have been carried out of 70,000 messages posted on Twitter with the hashtag #germanwings during the three days after the crash. Results point towards a hegemonic position of accounts connected to news media (mainstream, but also local and specialized outlets) in what regards public interactions in Twitter. However, findings also suggest that this central position coexists with an important role of the “common” citizen in shaping both the agenda of issues that are going to be covered but also the particular narratives and discourses associated to these issues. Furthermore, results also reflect how Twitter users were active in auditing the work of news media, criticising some of the approaches of their coverage that they considered to be negligent, unprofessional or unethical, performing as watchdogs of professional journalists and news media.