Exploring Alternative Qualits News Outlets in Europe: Two Cases Studies of Internet – Native News Outlets in Belgium and in France
This research analyses how professional journalists employed by the mainstream media seek to find alternative ways to produce quality journalism and how they use information and communication technologies (ICTs). As a form of communication practice, journalism faces unprecedented challenges and opportunities, as ICTs become part of news production and consumption. The participation of non-professional reporters has disrupted traditional news gathering and production among professional journalists. In order to attract and retain audiences, editors have adjusted the ratio of text, images, videos and other supposedly appealing forms. The border between soft news and hard news is becoming blurred, but the demands for high quality coverage remains, though this is difficult to monetise.
Meanwhile, journalists who work for the traditional mainstream media found they were trapped there, which has made them compromised by business demands because their agencies are under commercial pressures. At the same time, journalists have penetrated into the framework of the media agency to select and process news stories, and they also have to face institutional obstacles and restrictions in producing proper journalism. As a result, a number of journalists are seeking to free themselves from these constraints and create the conditions in which to produce quality journalism on novel platforms, exploiting the new potential of ICTs. This research will explore two specific cases of “internet-native” news outlets, one in France (www.rue89.com) and one in Belgium (www.apache.be). Although Rue89 was recently sold to a traditional news magazine (Le Nouvel Observateur), it is still a very telling case of early initiatives undertaken by traditional journalists who feel at odds with the traditional medium where they work. The methods in this study will include document analysis, content analysis and interviews. It will also require a thorough conceptual scrutiny of key notions, most of which are either distorted or just created within the evolving context of news media and journalism in the age of ICTs (e.g. alternative media, alternative journalism, participatory journalism, etc.). The study will also try to identify and clarify the perceptions and motivations of the different stakeholders, with a particular emphasis on journalists and editors, their self-identities and the impact from the cultural and social environment, by means of interviews with the founders and key players of the websites. Finally, the study will combine the findings and analyse both cases in light of both the process of their practice and the environment and context where it developed.