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Special Collection

Journalism and the Digital Challenge

Collection launched: 28 Jun 2019

Traditional journalism has faced major challenges in recent years as many aspects of digital media have been hailed as its ‘future’ whether presented in a positive or negative light. User-generated content and participatory journalism were highlighted by Steve Paulsssen and Pieter Ugille’s focus on newsroom structures and professional practices whereas the citizen journalism of blogs for a while appeared to offer hope of countering oppressive press control during the Arab Spring as Nalia Hamdy’s research indicated. One stage further in technology’s presence in frontline reporting, Bolette Blaagaard discusses how the use of drones have become part of the reporting mix, even altering age-old notions of what constitutes journalistic ‘presence’ in specific contexts.


Ethnography’s rich methodological tradition was applied to the practice of journalism in Hayes Mawindi Mabweazara’s consideration of Zimbabwean journalists’ use of the internet. However it was the threat posed by the erosion of traditional business models to one of Europe’s most resilient newspaper industries in Germany that came under scrutiny in Castulus Kolo’s quantitative modelling of its future. The prognosis did not look promising; although transition to new digitally-driven business appears to be proceeding with less haste in Russia with traditional advertising revenues holding firmer than in many western countries WPCC contributors from Lomonosov Moscow State University conclude in a wide-ranging assessment of media industry professionals’ expectations for ‘The Russian Media Industry In Ten Years’. A recent survey of the contemporary news environment and political reporting in the face of digital challenges by veteran journalist John Lloyd was considered in a book review by Dani Madrid-Morales. Earlier in 2007 Mattius Hessérus reviewed Neil Henry’s American Carnival: Journalism Under Siege in an Age of New Media,which lamented declining journalistic standards and ignorance of the ‘where’ in Press copy. This concern also featured in Monika Metykova's analysis of technological changes and soco-political developments which in 2008 seemed to be key factors in an increasing disconnection between European journalists and their audiences observed in her research. Mark Deuze, alternatively considers how professionals view disruptive new media developments and the appropriation of technologies and what it could mean for the organisation of news work.


WPPC has also had a long tradition of reflecting on news media in China but Twitter’s emergence suggests ways in which social media becomes the story or certainly has a formidable hand in shaping it not only in domestic media but in foreign policy too as Joyce Nip and Chao Sun’s work on ‘China’s News Media Tweeting, Competing With US Sources’ suggests. Tiziano Bonini also considers Twitter in the context of reporting of the Gezi Protests of 2013 in Turkey where ‘old and new, mainstream and underground media’ co-existed and amplified each other with radio also playing a key role in an environment where events moved at a pace faster than the ability of newspapers to react to them. This question of how to incorporate the immediacy of 'breaking news' and online news flows in US reporting is the focus of Robert Kautsky and Andreas Widholm's article 'Online Methodology: Analysing News Flows of Online Journalism'.


Lastly as local journalism faces particularly strong challenges from digital media’s domination of advertising, in a recent WPCC issue on Geography and Communications Amy Schmitz Weiss suggests how geospatial data might indicate how journalistic structures might better align with consumers’ perceptions of proximity and offer fresh ways of connecting with local news audiences.