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Paper explores the relationship between professional and citizen journalists


Journalism has been undoubtedly changed since the web has provided both the tools and the platforms for people to easily and readily share their opinions and news online.

As the boundaries between blogging/citizen journalism and professional journalism has shrunk, there has been a general hostility between the two camps.

Bloggers often seem to regard the mainstream press as cosseted by financial backers, whilst the mainstream press have referred to bloggers as unprofessional, unethical and indeed heavily dependent upon the very media they so readily criticize.

A recent paper has set out to explore the relationship between the two camps and whether they remain as hostile towards one another or have developed a more amenable working relationship as time has passed.

The paper begins by highlighting how a degree of tribalism has always been a fundamental part of journalism, with professionals more likely to collaborate with peers on the same medium.

So print journalists would work more often with fellow print journalists, and so on.

I wrote recently about the Twitter habits of journalists, and the report highlights the important role the platform now plays in how journalists gather, distribute and discuss news.

The paper suggests however that usage of more emergent platforms is much stronger amongst journalists from less prestigious publications, with those on bigger outlets more prone to use traditional methods.

Collaboration between blogs and mainstream media

Previous studies have highlighted that whilst bloggers are usually only too happy to link to mainstream outlets, the same is seldom the case for mainstream media linking to bloggers.  It suggests that a primary reason for this is to preserve the prestige of the mainstream media.

When the authors analyzed the Twitter behavior of a group of mainstream political journalists to determine the identity of the content retweeted.  The identity was classified according to six categories: traditional, hybrid or digital news organization; or traditional, hybrid or digital journalist.

When the data was analyzed, it emerged that the journalists retweeted fellow journalists 63 percent of the time, compared to just 10 percent of retweets being of content from digital journalists.  What’s more, even aside from the retweets, most of the communication on Twitter was confined either to fellow journalists from the same newspaper or peers from similarly prestigious publications.

The picture for digital journalists was much more balanced, with 32 percent of retweets going to mainstream publications and 45 percent being of digital content.

Giving the rapidly shifting media landscape, the paper provides an interesting insight into how various strands of the media are interacting with one another.

If you have an interest in journalism or the media at all, it’s well worth a read.

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