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A 'facebook revolution' in foreign coverage? A quantitative content analysis of journalists' sourcing practices during the Arab Spring

Sarah Van Leuven (UGent) , Karin Raeymaeckers (UGent) and Annelore Deprez (UGent)
Author
Organization
Abstract
Since the 1980s concerns have been raised about the increasing commercialisation of the media. Numerous scholars state that the economic rationale prompts news organisations to stress cost-cutting and efficiency considerations. It is often argued that foreign coverage is one of the first victims of this ‘market-driven journalism’, for instance because news media no longer can or want to pay correspondents on the spot. As a consequence foreign news desks, for their information gathering, are increasingly dependent on the international news wires and international news media, whose information they merely domesticate for their own national public. The result is a world view that is mainly dominated by official and powerful actors’ interpretation of events (Berglez, 2008; Buijs et al. 2009; Davies, 2008; Lewis, Willliams & Franklin, 2008; McManus, 1994). The Internet and more specifically Web 2.0 applications or social media have yet re-opened the debate on the emancipatory potential of media use. Some scholars witness a shift from individualistic top-down monomedia journalism to participatory multimedia journalism characterised by networked communication, a synthesis of interpersonal and mass communication where audiences and mass media producers are connected in one, networked media matrix. These authors state that Web 2.0 applications such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube invite a more diverse use of journalistic sources that might lead to a more balanced media access for a wider range of actors, including civil society organisations and individual citizens. This ‘network journalism’ offers possibilities for a global outlook in international news that approaches world events from various – not only national and/or official - perspectives (Brundidge, 2010; Castells, 2010; Dahlgren, 2005; Habermas, 2006; Heinrich, 2011). Several studies indicate how the importance of social media might especially hold true in times of breaking news and media restrictions, f.i. during the Iranian elections in June 2009, and less in everyday news production (Chua et al., 2011; Hermida, 2010; Lenatti, 2009; Messner & South, 2011; Morozov, 2009; Papathanassopoulos, 2011). Therefore, a case study approach of certain news events with an important role awarded to Web 2.0 might increase our understanding of how social media as a news source can contribute to international reporting. In this context, we set up a quantitative content analysis of the prominent sources and actors in the Belgian news coverage on the Arab Spring (data collection February 2012 to June 2012). More specifically, we focus on three different cases - the revolts in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria – in four newspapers (two popular and two quality dailies) and two broadcasters (the public broadcaster VRT and the commercial channel VTM). The central research questions are: To what amount are social media sources used in coverage on the Arab Spring? Do social media sources especially represent Arab citizens’ views on the revolts? In other words, can social media sources add a layer to the official government information that is mainly communicated through the ‘traditional’ information channels (f.i. spokesmen, press conferences)? Do social media sources contribute to the establishment of a ‘global outlook’ in foreign coverage on the Arab Spring?
Keywords
Web 2.0, sourcing practices, Arab Spring, content analysis, network journalism

Citation

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Chicago
Van Leuven, Sarah, Karin Raeymaeckers, and Annelore Deprez. 2012. “A ‘Facebook Revolution’ in Foreign Coverage? A Quantitative Content Analysis of Journalists’ Sourcing Practices During the Arab Spring.” In 4th European Communication Conference, Abstracts.
APA
Van Leuven, Sarah, Raeymaeckers, K., & Deprez, A. (2012). A “facebook revolution” in foreign coverage? A quantitative content analysis of journalists’ sourcing practices during the Arab Spring. 4th European Communication Conference, Abstracts. Presented at the 4th European Communication Conference (ECREA - 2012).
Vancouver
1.
Van Leuven S, Raeymaeckers K, Deprez A. A “facebook revolution” in foreign coverage? A quantitative content analysis of journalists’ sourcing practices during the Arab Spring. 4th European Communication Conference, Abstracts. 2012.
MLA
Van Leuven, Sarah, Karin Raeymaeckers, and Annelore Deprez. “A ‘Facebook Revolution’ in Foreign Coverage? A Quantitative Content Analysis of Journalists’ Sourcing Practices During the Arab Spring.” 4th European Communication Conference, Abstracts. 2012. Print.
@inproceedings{3051111,
  abstract     = {Since the 1980s concerns have been raised about the increasing commercialisation of the media. Numerous scholars state that the economic rationale prompts news organisations to stress cost-cutting and efficiency considerations. It is often argued that foreign coverage is one of the first victims of this {\textquoteleft}market-driven journalism{\textquoteright}, for instance because news media no longer can or want to pay correspondents on the spot. As a consequence foreign news desks, for their information gathering, are increasingly dependent on the international news wires and international news media, whose information they merely domesticate for their own national public. The result is a world view that is mainly dominated by official and powerful actors{\textquoteright} interpretation of events (Berglez, 2008; Buijs et al. 2009; Davies, 2008; Lewis, Willliams \& Franklin, 2008; McManus, 1994). The Internet and more specifically Web 2.0 applications or social media have yet re-opened the debate on the emancipatory potential of media use. Some scholars witness a shift from individualistic top-down monomedia journalism to participatory multimedia journalism characterised by networked communication, a synthesis of interpersonal and mass communication where audiences and mass media producers are connected in one, networked media matrix. These authors state that Web 2.0 applications such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube invite a more diverse use of journalistic sources that might lead to a more balanced media access for a wider range of actors, including civil society organisations and individual citizens. This {\textquoteleft}network journalism{\textquoteright} offers possibilities for a global outlook in international news that approaches world events from various -- not only national and/or official - perspectives (Brundidge, 2010; Castells, 2010; Dahlgren, 2005; Habermas, 2006; Heinrich, 2011). Several studies indicate how the importance of social media might especially hold true in times of breaking news and media restrictions, f.i. during the Iranian elections in June 2009, and less in everyday news production (Chua et al., 2011; Hermida, 2010; Lenatti, 2009; Messner \& South, 2011; Morozov, 2009; Papathanassopoulos, 2011). Therefore, a case study approach of certain news events with an important role awarded to Web 2.0 might increase our understanding of how social media as a news source can contribute to international reporting. In this context, we set up a quantitative content analysis of the prominent sources and actors in the Belgian news coverage on the Arab Spring (data collection February 2012 to June 2012). More specifically, we focus on three different cases - the revolts in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria -- in four newspapers (two popular and two quality dailies) and two broadcasters (the public broadcaster VRT and the commercial channel VTM). The central research questions are: To what amount are social media sources used in coverage on the Arab Spring? Do social media sources especially represent Arab citizens{\textquoteright} views on the revolts? In other words, can social media sources add a layer to the official government information that is mainly communicated through the {\textquoteleft}traditional{\textquoteright} information channels (f.i. spokesmen, press conferences)? Do social media sources contribute to the establishment of a {\textquoteleft}global outlook{\textquoteright} in foreign coverage on the Arab Spring?},
  author       = {Van Leuven, Sarah and Raeymaeckers, Karin and Deprez, Annelore},
  booktitle    = {4th European Communication Conference, Abstracts},
  keyword      = {Web 2.0,sourcing practices,Arab Spring,content analysis,network journalism},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Istanbul, Turkey},
  title        = {A 'facebook revolution' in foreign coverage? A quantitative content analysis of journalists' sourcing practices during the Arab Spring},
  url          = {http://prezi.com/pxshynfzdcdv/a-facebook-revolution-in-foreign-coverage/},
  year         = {2012},
}