Select Issues with New Media Theories of Citizen Journalism

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Burns, Alex (2008) Select Issues with New Media Theories of Citizen Journalism. M/C Journal, 11 (1). ISSN 1441-2616


New Media theorists such as Dan Gillmor, Henry Jenkins, Jay Rosen and Jeff Howe have recently touted Citizen Journalism (CJ) as the latest innovation in 21st century journalism. 'Participatory journalism' and 'user-driven journalism' are other terms to describe CJ, which its proponents argue is a disruptive innovation (Christensen) to the agenda-setting media institutions, news values and 'objective' reportage. In this essay I offer a 'contrarian' view, informed by two perspectives: (1) a three-stage model of theory-building (Carlile & Christensen) to evaluate the claims made about CJ; and (2) self-reflexive research insights (Etherington) from editing the US-based news site Disinformation between November 1999 and February 2008. New media theories can potentially create 'cognitive dissonance' (Festinger) when their explanations of CJ practices are compared with what actually happens (Feyerabend). First I summarise Carlile & Christensen's model and the dangers of 'bad theory' (Ghoshal). Next I consider several problems in new media theories about CJ: the notion of 'citizen', new media populism, parallels in event-driven and civic journalism, and mergers and acquisitions. Two 'self-reflexive' issues are considered: 'pro-ams' or 'professional amateurs' as a challenge to professional journalists, and CJ's deployment in new media operations and production environments. Finally, some exploratory questions are offered for future researchers.

Item type Article
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Law
Historical > FOR Classification > 1903 Journalism and Professional Writing
Historical > SEO Classification > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
Keywords ResPubID15814, 21st Century, Citizen Journalism, objective reportage, participatory journalism,
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