Journalistic Control and Identity in the Processing of User-Generated Content in Finnish and American Newspapers
The internet is reconfiguring the previous practices of journalism, causing the traditional gate-keeping approach to news production to evolve continuously. News organisations are increasingly processing and publishing material – such as photos and personal accounts – from users. By participating in chat forums and blogs or by creating user-generated content, members of the news audience can play a more active role in news production. At the same time newspapers are struggling with the extent to which professional journalistic standards should be applied to the material contributed by the readers. The main objective of my research project is to analyse the journalistic processing of user-generated web content (UGC) in newspapers. I will analyse, how this kind of content is selected, organised and presented in print and online papers. What are the control mechanisms and journalistic criteria that are applied in these processes, and how do journalists (re)formulate their role and identity? Is the role of journalists shifting from gate-keeping to guiding or collaborating, and what kind of consequences might this shift have for the ideas about the role of the press in society? Through the methods of action research, I will examine journalistic processing of user-generated content from two conceptual perspectives: 1) the journalistic identity, and 2) the macro-level control mechanisms in the media organisations. I hope to be able to analyse the emergence and cultivation of trust in the journalist-reader interaction during the processing of UGC.