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Anything new on the horizon? A longitudinal study of sourcing practices of Belgian journalists (2003-2018)

(2018)
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Abstract
In recent years, sourcing practices have been reconsidered in light of the arrival of advanced digital technologies in a still evolving context of globalization and commercialization. Some are optimistic about the potential of social media platforms to facilitate news access for a more diverse group of sources including ordinary citizens and alternative voices (e.g. Heinrich 2011), others are more pessimistic and convinced of the lasting dominance of elite sources such as governments and experts in the news (e.g. Broersma & Graham 2012). Yet the dearth of longitudinal studies suggests that we do not have much to compare contemporary journalistic practices with. The few available time-comparing studies found no evidence of drastically changing sourcing practices (Boumans 2017, Reich 2014) which seems to suggest that most claims made by pessimists as well as optimists are overtly exaggerated. With this paper we aim to contribute to this discussion and shed a light on the sourcing practices of Belgian journalists over a period of 15 years. To this end, we present the findings of a large-scale and longitudinal survey of Belgian professional journalists (2003-2008-2013-2018). We used the same questionnaire (only adapted to account for significant changes in the journalistic landscape e.g. the arrival of social media) in each research wave – with a five year time interval – to inquire journalists about various aspects of their profession. This includes sourcing practices but also demographics, job satisfaction, and work organisation which allows to connect potential changes in sourcing practices with broader trends in the evolving journalistic field. Findings from the previous research waves (2003-2008-2013) show that pre-packaged content (e.g. news agency copy and press releases), and elite sources (politicians, government institutions, experts, journalists and corporations) remain important information sources. In 2013, not surprisingly, social media sources were becoming more popular when compared with 2008, but their importance as a news source remained fairly limited. Importantly however, in contrast with often heard complaints about unequal news access, the findings show that Belgian journalists acknowledge the importance of ordinary citizens and NGOs as news sources, although their importance did not increase through time. Data for the 2018 research wave are collected from January to March 2018. For this paper, we will investigate whether the tendencies found from 2003 until 2013 are confirmed in 2018, or whether new sourcing practices are appearing on the horizon. References Boumans, J. (2017). Subsidizing the news? Organizational press releases’ influence on news media’s agenda and content. Journalism Studies, DOI: 10.1080/1461670X.2017.1338154 Broersma, M. & Graham, T. (2012). Social Media as Beat: Tweets as News Source During the 2010 British and Dutch Elections. Journalism Practice, 6(3): 403–419. Heinrich, A. (2011). Network Journalism: Journalistic Practice in Interactive Spheres. New York: Routledge. Reich, Z. (2014). ‘Stubbornly unchanged’: A longitudinal study of news practices in the Israeli press. European Journal of Communication, 29(3): 351-370.
Keywords
online sources, sourcing practices, user-generated content, journalism, social media, verification, news access, news production

Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Van Leuven, Sarah. “Anything New on the Horizon? A Longitudinal Study of Sourcing Practices of Belgian Journalists (2003-2018).” 2018. Print.
APA
Van Leuven, S. (2018). Anything new on the horizon? A longitudinal study of sourcing practices of Belgian journalists (2003-2018). Presented at the 7th European Communication Conference (ECC).
Chicago author-date
Van Leuven, Sarah. 2018. “Anything New on the Horizon? A Longitudinal Study of Sourcing Practices of Belgian Journalists (2003-2018).” In .
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Van Leuven, Sarah. 2018. “Anything New on the Horizon? A Longitudinal Study of Sourcing Practices of Belgian Journalists (2003-2018).” In .
Vancouver
1.
Van Leuven S. Anything new on the horizon? A longitudinal study of sourcing practices of Belgian journalists (2003-2018). 2018.
IEEE
[1]
S. Van Leuven, “Anything new on the horizon? A longitudinal study of sourcing practices of Belgian journalists (2003-2018),” presented at the 7th European Communication Conference (ECC), Lugano, 2018.
@inproceedings{8588219,
  abstract     = {In recent years, sourcing practices have been reconsidered in light of the arrival of advanced digital technologies in a still evolving context of globalization and commercialization. Some are optimistic about the potential of social media platforms to facilitate news access for a more diverse group of sources including ordinary citizens and alternative voices (e.g. Heinrich 2011), others are more pessimistic and convinced of the lasting dominance of elite sources such as governments and experts in the news (e.g. Broersma & Graham 2012). Yet the dearth of longitudinal studies suggests that we do not have much to compare contemporary journalistic practices with. The few available time-comparing studies found no evidence of drastically changing sourcing practices (Boumans 2017, Reich 2014) which seems to suggest that most claims made by pessimists as well as optimists are overtly exaggerated. With this paper we aim to contribute to this discussion and shed a light on the sourcing practices of Belgian journalists over a period of 15 years. To this end, we present the findings of a large-scale and longitudinal survey of Belgian professional journalists (2003-2008-2013-2018). We used the same questionnaire (only adapted to account for significant changes in the journalistic landscape e.g. the arrival of social media) in each research wave – with a five year time interval – to inquire journalists about various aspects of their profession. This includes sourcing practices but also demographics, job satisfaction, and work organisation which allows to connect potential changes in sourcing practices with broader trends in the evolving journalistic field. Findings from the previous research waves (2003-2008-2013) show that pre-packaged content (e.g. news agency copy and press releases), and elite sources (politicians, government institutions, experts, journalists and corporations) remain important information sources. In 2013, not surprisingly, social media sources were becoming more popular when compared with 2008, but their importance as a news source remained fairly limited. Importantly however, in contrast with often heard complaints about unequal news access, the findings show that Belgian journalists acknowledge the importance of ordinary citizens and NGOs as news sources, although their importance did not increase through time. Data for the 2018 research wave are collected from January to March 2018. For this paper, we will investigate whether the tendencies found from 2003 until 2013 are confirmed in 2018, or whether new sourcing practices are appearing on the horizon. 

References
Boumans, J. (2017). Subsidizing the news? Organizational press releases’ influence on news media’s agenda and content. Journalism Studies, DOI: 10.1080/1461670X.2017.1338154
Broersma, M. & Graham, T. (2012). Social Media as Beat: Tweets as News Source During the 2010 British and Dutch Elections. Journalism Practice, 6(3): 403–419.
Heinrich, A. (2011). Network Journalism: Journalistic Practice in Interactive Spheres. New York: Routledge.
Reich, Z. (2014). ‘Stubbornly unchanged’: A longitudinal study of news practices in the Israeli press. European Journal of Communication, 29(3): 351-370. },
  author       = {Van Leuven, Sarah},
  keywords     = {online sources,sourcing practices,user-generated content,journalism,social media,verification,news access,news production},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Lugano},
  title        = {Anything new on the horizon? A longitudinal study of sourcing practices of Belgian journalists (2003-2018)},
  year         = {2018},
}