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The use of citizen journalism for hyperlocal news production

Evelien D'heer UGent and Steve Paulussen (2012) International Conference on Online Journalism : 'Towards Neo-Journalism? Redefining, Extending or Reconfiguring a Profession', Proceedings.
abstract
This paper describes the case of the hyperlocal media project Het Belang van Limburg, which is using citizen journalism and user-generated content for coverage of local community news. The newspaper actively encourages community members (i.e. citizens, local councils and organisations) to contribute stories to the local news pages on its website HBvL.be. For each municipality in the province of Limburg, a local news page is created where people who have registered themselves as a ‘news hunter’ can publish their own news stories, pictures and event announcements. All citizen contributions are published next to the professionally made news articles from the newspaper’s local correspondents. Since the professional editorial content and the user-generated news content are not separated but co-exist within the same online news environment, it is interesting to investigate similarities and complementarities between both types of content. The central research question of this paper therefore is to what extent and in which ways contributions by local citizen journalists differ from the professional editorial news content in terms of topic selection, news values and use of sources? The results of our study, based on a content analysis of 474 news items, provide evidence for the added value of user-generated content for hyperlocal news production. Whereas the citizen journalists almost exclusively focus on socio-cultural events and sports news, professional journalists tend to cover more stories related to crime, justice and police. The study also suggests that professionals use a distinct set of news values, emphasizing criteria such as ‘recency’ and ‘negativity’ – in comparison, citizen journalists were more likely to judge the newsworthiness of an event in terms of ‘cultural relevance’ and ‘reference to persons’. With regards to sourcing practices, the study confirms previous research indicating that citizen journalists tend to rely heavily on firsthand witnessing and personal experience due to general lack of access to official sources of information. Overall, the paper contributes to a better understanding of the use of citizen journalism for professional news production at a hyperlocal level.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
conference
publication status
published
subject
in
International Conference on Online Journalism : 'Towards Neo-Journalism? Redefining, Extending or Reconfiguring a Profession', Proceedings
pages
25 pages
publisher
Ghent University, Department of Communication studies
place of publication
Ghent, Belgium
conference name
International Conference on Online Journalism : 'Towards Neo-Journalism? Redefining, Extending or Reconfiguring a Profession'
conference location
Brussels, Belgium
conference start
2012-10-03
conference end
2012-10-04
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
C1
copyright statement
I have retained and own the full copyright for this publication
id
3008682
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-3008682
date created
2012-10-08 13:03:07
date last changed
2012-10-22 15:20:17
@inproceedings{3008682,
  abstract     = {This paper describes the case of the hyperlocal media project Het Belang van Limburg, which is using citizen journalism and user-generated content for coverage of local community news. The newspaper actively encourages community members (i.e. citizens, local councils and organisations) to contribute stories to the local news pages on its website HBvL.be. For each municipality in the province of Limburg, a local news page is created where people who have registered themselves as a {\textquoteleft}news hunter{\textquoteright} can publish their own news stories, pictures and event announcements. All citizen contributions are published next to the professionally made news articles from the newspaper{\textquoteright}s local correspondents. Since the professional editorial content and the user-generated news content are not separated but co-exist within the same online news environment, it is interesting to investigate similarities and complementarities between both types of content. The central research question of this paper therefore is to what extent and in which ways contributions by local citizen journalists differ from the professional editorial news content in terms of topic selection,  news values and use of sources? The results of our study, based on a content analysis of 474 news items, provide evidence for the added value of user-generated content for hyperlocal news production. Whereas the citizen journalists almost exclusively focus on socio-cultural events and sports news, professional journalists tend to cover more stories related to crime, justice and police. The study also suggests that professionals use a distinct set of news values, emphasizing criteria such as {\textquoteleft}recency{\textquoteright} and {\textquoteleft}negativity{\textquoteright} -- in comparison, citizen journalists were more likely to judge the newsworthiness of an event in terms of {\textquoteleft}cultural relevance{\textquoteright} and {\textquoteleft}reference to persons{\textquoteright}. With regards to sourcing practices, the study confirms previous research indicating that citizen journalists tend to rely heavily on firsthand witnessing and personal experience due to general lack of access to official sources of information. Overall, the paper contributes to a better understanding of the use of citizen journalism for professional news production at a hyperlocal level.},
  author       = {D'heer, Evelien and Paulussen, Steve},
  booktitle    = {International Conference on Online Journalism : 'Towards Neo-Journalism? Redefining, Extending or Reconfiguring a Profession', Proceedings},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Brussels, Belgium},
  pages        = {25},
  publisher    = {Ghent University, Department of Communication studies},
  title        = {The use of citizen journalism for hyperlocal news production},
  year         = {2012},
}

Chicago
D’heer, Evelien, and Steve Paulussen. 2012. “The Use of Citizen Journalism for Hyperlocal News Production.” In International Conference on Online Journalism : “Towards Neo-Journalism? Redefining, Extending or Reconfiguring a Profession”, Proceedings. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University, Department of Communication studies.
APA
D’heer, E., & Paulussen, S. (2012). The use of citizen journalism for hyperlocal news production. International Conference on Online Journalism : “Towards Neo-Journalism? Redefining, Extending or Reconfiguring a Profession”, Proceedings. Presented at the International Conference on Online Journalism : “Towards Neo-Journalism? Redefining, Extending or Reconfiguring a Profession,” Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University, Department of Communication studies.
Vancouver
1.
D’heer E, Paulussen S. The use of citizen journalism for hyperlocal news production. International Conference on Online Journalism : “Towards Neo-Journalism? Redefining, Extending or Reconfiguring a Profession”, Proceedings. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University, Department of Communication studies; 2012.
MLA
D’heer, Evelien, and Steve Paulussen. “The Use of Citizen Journalism for Hyperlocal News Production.” International Conference on Online Journalism : “Towards Neo-Journalism? Redefining, Extending or Reconfiguring a Profession”, Proceedings. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University, Department of Communication studies, 2012. Print.