Title: Audience participation and technological change
Authors : Keel, Guido
Conference details: User Generated Content: Historical perspectives on the participation of audiences in social communication, International Workshop and Founding Conference of the ECREA Section Communication History, European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA), Potsdam, 3–5 June 2010
Issue Date: 5-Jun-2010
License (according to publishing contract) : Licence according to publishing contract
Type of review: Not specified
Language : English
Subject (DDC) : 302: Social interaction
Abstract: Four factors can be identified which change the media: economics, technology, law/regulation and culture (e.g. Stöber 2005, Preston 2009: 22-26). Furthermore, change in the sense of social innovation can be seen as a recursive process between structure and agency (Ryfe 2009), with structure encompassing more than long-held cultural beliefs, but also the structural context concerning resources. Combining these two approaches helps to explain change in journalism. In this contribution, two arguments are made: First, without falling for technological determinism, technological causes can be seen as crucial for a change in public participation in the media (Pavlik 2000: 234-236). Second, user generated content is more likely to happen when the activity to consume media content and to participate are similar, because this form of participation is in accordance with established audience activities. Based on these assumptions, this contribution identifies different stages of participation based on technological innovations. Furthermore, it shows how participation has changed the journalistic culture by altering the way how journalists see their role in society. Stages of media democratization User generated content has always been part of mass media. Letters to the editor were printed in newspapers independent from economic, cultural and legal conditions. A fundamental change in audience participation came with the radio, where the audience was invited to participate live in discussions instead of giving feedback which was then published with a time lag of several days. Immediate audience participation can thus be seen as a second stage of media democratization. Media strategists planned a third stage in relation with the internet. It was expected that the audience would not only be able to immediately react to journalistic coverage, but to provide media content themselves, using the same channel "the website" as the journalists themselves. Although this intention was in line with the structural level with respect to resources (the accessibility of the internet) and to signification (the ideal to turn media websites into interactive platforms for news content), these expectations were disappointed at first, around the turn of the millennium (Quandt 2008). Only in a second phase of online journalism, related to the growing popularity of social web applications and the according communication culture, the audience began to participate as was intended a decade earlier. Audience participation and empirical evidence for change in journalistic culture These examples show that new forms of audience participation in the media can be expected where and when new technologies allow for a direct audience participation by the journalists, when the interaction can take place without a breach of channels (Schweiger/Quiring 2006: 9). While this breach is considerable for letters to the editor, it was reduced first with telephone and radio, and finally with forum entries in response to online news. Therefore audience participation is greatest in online media, which in turn has consequences on the structures of signification in those media. This manifests itself in a changing perception of the role of journalists among online journalists as empirical evidence from a longitudinal journalist survey from Switzerland shows.
Departement: Angewandte Linguistik
Organisational Unit: Institute of Applied Media Studies (IAM)
Publication type: Conference Other
URI: https://digitalcollection.zhaw.ch/handle/11475/2935
Appears in Collections:Publikationen Angewandte Linguistik

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