Academic Research on Citizen Journalism

Some interesting academic papers regarding citizen journalism were presented in Civic and Citizen Journalism Interest Group of AEJMC (Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication). CCJIG (Civic and Citizen Journalism Interest Group) began in 1994 during the formative years of civic/ public journalism, which was focused on using journalistic practices to foster civic engagement. As time has passed, interests of the group and its membership have turned to new ways of expressing this engagement, especially through citizen-based participatory journalism, leading to a corresponding change of the group’s name to the Civic and Citizen Journalism Interest Group in 2005. As blogging, hyper-local media, and audience contributions to online news operations of mainstream media have grown, CCJIG has developed into a vibrant community of scholars interested in research and teaching about these phenomena.

Citizen Journalism and Cognitive Processing: An experiment on the perceived intent of traditional versus citizen journalism sources,” Heather E Akin, Melissa Tully, Gerald Stoecklein & Hernando Rojas

Using a three-wave longitudinal design with an embedded web-based experiment, this study considers whether manipulating the source of a news report (citizen journalism versus traditional journalism) affects perceived thought-provoking motivations. Results show that respondents perceive a citizen journalism source as intending to be more thought provoking about food issues than a traditional news source. Moreover, previous levels of engagement suggest that those who are less engaged with an issue are the ones who are more likely to see a citizen journalism source as intending to make them think. Findings and implications for future research are discussed.

Gatekeeping and Citizen Journalism A Qualitative Examination of Participatory Newsgathering,” Amani Channel

For nearly sixty years, scholars have studied how information is selected, vetted, and shared by news organizations. The process, known as gatekeeping, is an enduring mass communications theory that describes the process by which news is gathered and filtered to audiences. It has been suggested, however, that in the wake of online communications the traditional function of media gatekeeping is changing. The infusion of citizen-gathered media into news programming is resulting in what some call a paradigm shift. As mainstream news outlets adopt and encourage public participation, it is important that researchers have a greater understanding of the theoretical implications related to participatory media and gatekeeping. This study will be among the first to examine the adoption of citizen journalism by a major cable news network. It will focus on CNN’s citizen journalism online news community called iReport, which allows the public to share and submit “unfiltered” content. Vetted submissions that are deemed newsworthy can then be broadcasted across CNN’s networks, and published on This journalism practice appears to follow the thoughts of Nguyen (2006), who states that, “future journalists will need to be trained to not only become critical gate-keepers but also act as listeners, discussion and forum leaders/mediators in an intimate interaction with their audiences.” The goal of the paper is to lay a foundation for understanding how participatory media is utilized by a news network to help researchers possibly develop new models and hypotheses related to gatekeeping theory.

Perceived Role Conceptions of Citizen and Professional Journalists: Citizens’ Views,” Deborah Chung & Seungahn Nah

This study aims to identify citizen journalists’ role conceptions regarding their journalistic news contributing activities and their perceptions regarding professional journalists’ role conceptions. Based on a national survey of 130 citizen journalists, four factors emerged for both citizen and professional journalists’ role conceptions: interpreter, adversary, facilitator and mobilizer. Perceptions of civic journalism values were also examined. Analyses reveal that citizen journalists perceive their roles to be generally similar to professional journalistic roles. Furthermore, respondents rated certain roles to be more prominent functions for citizen journalists. In particular, the citizen journalist role of facilitator was rated as significantly more important than those of the traditional press.

Alternative and Citizen Journalism: Mapping the Conceptual Differences,” Farooq Kperogi

Although it is customary for some scholars to conflate citizen media and alternative media, I argue in this paper that they are different. In the new media literature, citizen journalism is conceptualized as online “news content produced by ordinary citizens with no formal journalism training.” Alternative journalism, on the other hand, is not merely non-professionalized and non-institutionalized journalism produced by ordinary citizens; it is also purposively counter-hegemonic and “closely wedded to notions of social responsibility, replacing an ideology of ‘objectivity’ with overt advocacy and oppositional practices.”

Reconsidering citizen journalism- An historical analysis,” Justin Walden

The rise of Web 2.0 publishing platforms has understandably had a dramatic impact on a number of different communication processes and fields in recent years. One area that has been profoundly influenced by the newfound ability for “regular” Internet users to self publish is citizen journalism. This theoretical paper examines current and historical perspectives on the citizen journalism movement, giving particular heed to a review of how recent Internet technologies have given amateur reporters far more reach and influence. This graduate-student produced article traces how today’s political bloggers and videographers are countering some centuries-old journalism practices and rechanneling the activism that guided Thomas Paine and other American Revolutionaries. This paper concludes that citizen journalism today is poised to follow a similar historical trajectory of legacy media from the 18th century. This article also argues that academic scholarship needs to shed further light on this trajectory and the seemingly inevitable standardization that will occur with citizen journalism newsgathering practices and presentation styles.

More abstracts are available here.

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10 2010


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