The ICA conference in Montréal was a very nice opportunity to move on in the debate on the research of participatory journalism. I chaired a panel that outlined the different approaches to date:
- The study of the attitudes and strategies of mainstream online media
- The exploration of the newsmaking routines of citizen reporters in comparison to those of professionals
- What are journalists offering back to the audience that participates?
- Who are the citizens that participate and what are their motivations?
The second question may shed some light into the value of participatory journalism for the other side of the equation, the citizens. Knowing why do they participate will help to see if they have any aspirations of changing mainstream journalism... or just become part of it.
The Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication just published an article (PDF) in which I try to contribute some theoretical and historical context to this debate. I describe "interactivity" as a powerful myth that has just been renovated by the discourses on "participatory journalism". Online journalists feel compelled to incorporate the myth into their products, but their professional culture and organizational constraints push the actual developments out of the core routines of online newsrooms.