"521 topics that we never thought of ourselves": How public-powered stories challenge local journalists' ideas of newsworthiness

J.L.J. Boesman, I.C. Costera-Meijer

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaperAcademic

Abstract

News values are often seen as journalists’ abstractions of what the audience values (e.g., Richardson, 2007; Shoemaker & Vos, 2009). In the digital era, however, audience preferences became less abstract through web metrics and social media, but also through the participation of “the people formerly known as the audience” (Rosen, 2006) to the process of news making. This paper zooms in on the latter, by studying how local journalists redefine their ideas of newsworthiness while adapting an audience-driven approach to journalism. More specifically, this study is based on qualitative in-depth interviews with 12 journalists working for three local newsrooms in the Netherlands. While Newsroom Enschede experiments with crowdsourcing, Omroep West and RTV Drenthe let their audience suggest story ideas through a tool called Hearken (see also Nelson, 2018; Wenzel, 2017). The preliminary findings show that “public-powered” stories (cf. Brandel, 2015) challenge journalists’ conceptions of newsworthiness. Local audiences don’t seem to care about traditional news values such as “recency”, “conflict”, “bad news”, and “power elite”. Instead, they appear to be mainly interested in “nice-to-know” stories, solution-oriented stories with personal relevance, and specific topics such as “animals” and “history” (see also Costera Meijer & Bijleveld, 2016). One editor described the complete collection of audiences’ story suggestions as “521 topics that we never thought of ourselves”. The findings are discussed in terms of the specificity of local journalism and in terms of its wider implications: Do “public-powered” stories really challenge journalists’ ideas of newsworthiness, or are they only considered a separate kind of journalism?
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 13 Dec 2018
EventWhat’s (the) News? Values, Viruses and Vectors of Newsworthiness



: Third biennial conference of the Brussels Institute for Journalism Studies (BIJU)
- Brussels, Brussels, Belgium
Duration: 13 Dec 201714 Dec 2018

Conference

ConferenceWhat’s (the) News? Values, Viruses and Vectors of Newsworthiness



CountryBelgium
CityBrussels
Period13/12/1714/12/18

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