Exploring participatory journalistic content: Objectivity and diversity in five examples of participatory journalism

Merel Borger*, Anita van Hoof, José Sanders

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

This article presents a content analysis of five very different examples of participatory journalism. The goal of this study is to examine the, largely untested, assumptions that news organizations and journalists have about audience input (audience material for instance being trivial, personal, emotional and sensational). We systematically ask how the contents of the five projects might be characterized in relation to conventional quality journalism as a particular genre by examining the contents against two criteria that have been critical to this genre: ‘objectivity’ and ‘diversity’. Second, given the core role that a notion of professional ‘control’ plays in discussions on participatory journalism, we examine whether these manifestations on objectivity and diversity are associated with the degree to which professional journalists have control over the participatory content published within these projects. By doing so, we aim to better understand what the participating audience produces in order to get an idea of what, according to participants, ‘counts’ as journalism and to determine whether and how this differs from conventional quality journalism. The results are explained in terms of ‘boundary work’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-466
Number of pages23
JournalJournalism
Volume20
Issue number3
Early online date10 Nov 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019

Keywords

  • Boundary work
  • content analysis
  • diversity
  • objectivity
  • participatory journalism
  • quality journalism

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