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Are Twitter and YouTube the new networked news wires? A quantitative content analysis of journalists' sourcing practices during the Arab Spring

Sarah Van Leuven (UGent) , Annelore Deprez (UGent) and Karin Raeymaeckers (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 bear the cost of correspondents on the spot. As a consequence foreign news desks, for their information gathering, are increasingly depending on the international news wires and international news media whose information they often 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, Williams & Franklin, 2008; McManus, 1994). The Internet and more specifically Web 2.0 applications or social media such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube have yet re-opened the debate on the emancipatory potential of media use. In the context of globalization and digitalization, 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 journalists are connected in a networked media matrix. These authors state that the interactivity, connectivity, and flexibility of Web 2.0 applications 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 (Beckett, 2012; Brundidge, 2010; Castells, 2010; Dahlgren, 2005; Habermas, 2006; Heinrich, 2011). This ‘network’ or ‘networked’ journalism approaches world events from diverse – not only national and/or official – perspectives and thus enhances the quality of foreign news coverage. In practice several studies have found that journalists rarely incorporate social media in the news production process (Knight, 2011; Messner & South, 2011). Nonetheless we are hopeful as a few case studies indicate that journalists might be more inclined to ‘practice’ network journalism in the context of breaking news or media restrictions where they cannot (immediately) access the area themselves and therefore try to “learn from on-the-ground sources” (Lotan et al., 2011, p.1376). One recent example is the Arab Spring where Western journalists encountered difficult working conditions and thus may have been prompted to turn to their online and offline network of national and international informants. In the face of this assumption, we set up a quantitative content analysis of the prominent sources and actors in the Flemish news coverage of the Arab Spring. More specifically, we focus on three different cases - the revolts in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria – in four Flemish newspapers (two popular and two quality dailies) and two Flemish broadcasters (the public broadcaster VRT and the commercial channel VTM). The analysis shows that Flemish news coverage of the Arab Spring to a certain degree adapted to the new reality of ‘network journalism’. Compared to previous research (e.g. Van Leuven, Deprez & Raeymaeckers, 2012, in review), Flemish journalists more often displayed a global (in contrast to domesticated or national) perspective in their coverage, and more frequently consulted social media sources (especially Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WikiLeaks). The tendency towards network journalism is also clear from the finding that individual citizens – not official actors such as politicians or government organs – are most frequently quoted. Furthermore, we see that the characteristics of network journalism are more prominently present in coverage of the Syrian uprising, which confirms that local circumstances (i.c. heavy media restrictions and absence of Belgian tourists or companies) are decisive in the implementation of network journalism.
Keywords
Web 2.0, sourcing practices, network journalism, Arab Spring, content analysis

Citation

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MLA
Van Leuven, Sarah, Annelore Deprez, and Karin Raeymaeckers. “Are Twitter and YouTube the New Networked News Wires? A Quantitative Content Analysis of Journalists’ Sourcing Practices During the Arab Spring.” Etmaal Van De Communicatiewetenschappen, Abstracts. 2013. Print.
APA
Van Leuven, Sarah, Deprez, A., & Raeymaeckers, K. (2013). Are Twitter and YouTube the new networked news wires? A quantitative content analysis of journalists’ sourcing practices during the Arab Spring. Etmaal van de communicatiewetenschappen, Abstracts. Presented at the Etmaal van de Communicatiewetenschap.
Chicago author-date
Van Leuven, Sarah, Annelore Deprez, and Karin Raeymaeckers. 2013. “Are Twitter and YouTube the New Networked News Wires? A Quantitative Content Analysis of Journalists’ Sourcing Practices During the Arab Spring.” In Etmaal Van De Communicatiewetenschappen, Abstracts.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Van Leuven, Sarah, Annelore Deprez, and Karin Raeymaeckers. 2013. “Are Twitter and YouTube the New Networked News Wires? A Quantitative Content Analysis of Journalists’ Sourcing Practices During the Arab Spring.” In Etmaal Van De Communicatiewetenschappen, Abstracts.
Vancouver
1.
Van Leuven S, Deprez A, Raeymaeckers K. Are Twitter and YouTube the new networked news wires? A quantitative content analysis of journalists’ sourcing practices during the Arab Spring. Etmaal van de communicatiewetenschappen, Abstracts. 2013.
IEEE
[1]
S. Van Leuven, A. Deprez, and K. Raeymaeckers, “Are Twitter and YouTube the new networked news wires? A quantitative content analysis of journalists’ sourcing practices during the Arab Spring,” in Etmaal van de communicatiewetenschappen, Abstracts, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2013.
@inproceedings{3126280,
  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 bear the cost of correspondents on the spot. As a consequence foreign news desks, for their information gathering, are increasingly depending on the international news wires and international news media whose information they often 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, Williams & Franklin, 2008; McManus, 1994). The Internet and more specifically Web 2.0 applications or social media such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube have yet re-opened the debate on the emancipatory potential of media use. In the context of globalization and digitalization, 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 journalists are connected in a networked media matrix. These authors state that the interactivity, connectivity, and flexibility of Web 2.0 applications 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 (Beckett, 2012; Brundidge, 2010; Castells, 2010; Dahlgren, 2005; Habermas, 2006; Heinrich, 2011). This ‘network’ or ‘networked’ journalism approaches world events from diverse – not only national and/or official – perspectives and thus enhances the quality of foreign news coverage. In practice several studies have found that journalists rarely incorporate social media in the news production process (Knight, 2011; Messner & South, 2011). Nonetheless we are hopeful as a few case studies indicate that journalists might be more inclined to ‘practice’ network journalism in the context of breaking news or media restrictions where they cannot (immediately) access the area themselves and therefore try to “learn from on-the-ground sources” (Lotan et al., 2011, p.1376). One recent example is the Arab Spring where Western journalists encountered difficult working conditions and thus may have been prompted to turn to their online and offline network of national and international informants. In the face of this assumption, we set up a quantitative content analysis of the prominent sources and actors in the Flemish news coverage of the Arab Spring. More specifically, we focus on three different cases - the revolts in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria – in four Flemish newspapers (two popular and two quality dailies) and two Flemish broadcasters (the public broadcaster VRT and the commercial channel VTM). The analysis shows that Flemish news coverage of the Arab Spring to a certain degree adapted to the new reality of ‘network journalism’. Compared to previous research (e.g. Van Leuven, Deprez & Raeymaeckers, 2012, in review), Flemish journalists more often displayed a global (in contrast to domesticated or national) perspective in their coverage, and more frequently consulted social media sources (especially Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WikiLeaks). The tendency towards network journalism is also clear from the finding that individual citizens – not official actors such as politicians or government organs – are most frequently quoted. Furthermore, we see that the characteristics of network journalism are more prominently present in coverage of the Syrian uprising, which confirms that local circumstances (i.c. heavy media restrictions and absence of Belgian tourists or companies) are decisive in the implementation of network journalism.},
  author       = {Van Leuven, Sarah and Deprez, Annelore and Raeymaeckers, Karin},
  booktitle    = {Etmaal van de communicatiewetenschappen, Abstracts},
  keywords     = {Web 2.0,sourcing practices,network journalism,Arab Spring,content analysis},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Rotterdam, The Netherlands},
  title        = {Are Twitter and YouTube the new networked news wires? A quantitative content analysis of journalists' sourcing practices during the Arab Spring},
  url          = {http://prezi.com/pxshynfzdcdv/are-twitter-and-youtube-the-new-networked-news-wires/},
  year         = {2013},
}