Audience in the Pocket

Bell, Anderson and Shirky (2015) talk about the ‘restructuring of organizational models’ being vital to the survival of journalism in a business model sense. Let’s zoom in on one of those new structures.

Pocket is an app, before known as Read it Later. In 2012 the app was redesigned, but the idea remained the same: when you come across content you like, but you don’t have the time to read at the moment, you can save for later in the app. Also videos from youtube or vimeo can be downloaded to the app and saved for later.

Now you could do a SWOT-analysis on the app to see if Pocket is a fruitful way of restructuring the medialandscape. A strength of Pocket would definitely be that it’s easy to use, it has a pretty lay-out and you can use in on all devices with just one account, which is very comfortable. A weakness however is that not all content can be downloaded to Pocket. Not all articles, youtube- or vimeovideos can be downloaded, due to technical problems the app didn’t solve thus far. An opportunity thus lies in developing the app to an even higher technical level. A threat would be that the app gets too complicated to use. Already now there’s an option for following people on Pocket, connecting to twitter and connecting to facebook. In my opinion all these features are a threat to the app, which I think works best if it stays as simple as the idea sounds.

Pocket is surely not answering the more difficult questions of our time, like who a journalist is nowadays or the future of journalism as ideology, prompted by Burns and Matthews (2017). But I think apps such as Pocket can be helpful in keeping journalistic content accessible and relevant for a highly individualized audience.

References

Bell, E., Anderson, C. W. and Shirky, C. Post-Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present. Geopolitics, History, and International
Relations 2 (2015), 32–123.

Burns, L.S. and Matthews, B.J. Post-Industrial Journalism as a Creative Industry. International Journal of Social, Behavioral, Educational, Economic, Business and Industrial Engineering 11(6) (2017), 1543-1551.

Wiser through Youtube

Last week the Dutch public broadcast channel BNNVARA announced to make plans on taking into account Youtube and Facebook statistics when measuring audience ratings on their different tv-programs. They argue the Dutch public broadcasting organization is not developing new ways of measuring audience ratings quick enough. And with the general BNNVARA public being youngsters, measuring audience ratings just by counting the numbers of tv-watchers seems to be an outdated method. A lot of kids watch the popular programs online rather than on television, so not taking into account the online audience ratings might give a distorted picture of a program’s popularity, the channel argues.

As is pointed out by Cherubini and Kleis Nielsen, this kind of measuring comes with a lot of complications. One of the recipients in Cherubini and Kleis Nielsen’s inquiry calls out about measuring audience ratings on social media like Youtube:

“Every platform will give you data and the first question is how can we trust that data, what does that mean for you and how do you compare the data between platforms.” (Cherubini and Kleis Nielsen (2016))

Next to that, since up till now i.e. Youtube doesn’t share a lot of its data on visitors behavior, the best method to get data about audience ratings is just simply watch how many times a video is rendered. This comes with a lot of unanswered questions like how a video needs to be rendered for to be counting as a unique view?’ You don’t know anything about who watches the video or at what time of the day. Relevant information when deciding whether a program is still worth it to spend public money on. BNNVARA wants to be quick with audience ratings on social media, but has to think wisely on how to interpret them.

References

Cherubini, F. & Kleis Nielsen, R. Editorial Analytics: How News Media Are Developing and Using Audience Data and Metrics. Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (2016).

Ivory towers

As Paterson et al. describe in the opening chapter of the book Advancing Media Production Research, doing research on media companies and content production is very hard from a scholarly perspective. Partly because researchers have hard times ‘deal[ing] with and convinc[ing] gatekeepers to media organizations’ of cooperating in the research.

The obstacles in doing proper research also stem from the fact that analyzing only interview material (interviews with mediamakers) is not enough. Since ‘what people say is often a poor predictor of what they do’, one must also have enough observational data to get a full picture of the media making process and the choices made, so say Paterson et al.

It would be useful to look beyond the academic boundaries of media research to another profession that’s known for it’s critical thinking and thorough research methods: journalism itself. The Dutch documentary series Medialogica tries already for years to investigate why journalists do what they do and how they make their important choices. Using investigative journalism research methods they try to unveil the processes in the media industry, both in The Netherlands and abroad.

They are successful in doing so, mostly because they, as being journalists themselves, have deep rooted contacts in the media industry. Therefore colleagues know them and take questions for cooperating in their research seriously.

Maybe scholars can, instead of discussing about it with other scholars, come down from their ivory towers and have a look at the way journalists work themselves in getting the story. And how they use their professional network to get the information they want.

References

Paterson, C., Lee, D., Saha, A., and Zoellner, A. Production Research: Continuity and Transformation. Advancing Media Production Research (2015), 3-19.

Why not be creative AND rich

For people working in the creative industries, there is this myth that we all don’t really care about money. We do what we do because we try to reach deeper goals than to become rich. But I think we need to stop our suspicion towards making big money.

This summer, HopperHQ – a website helping you to schedule your Instagramposts – presented a list of the celebrities and non-celebrities that earn the most money per post on the photo and video platform, based on HopperHQ’s own data.

Let’s start by stating that being on Instagram means contributing in a sense to the creative industries. Instagram can be considered a media company when we take in account the definition of that term by Thomas Hess in Bozena and Shaver (2014): “organizers of public, media-based communication”.

Now as Lampel (2000) suggests, there’s an ongoing tension in the creative industries between making creative content and being commercial. On Instagram, however, the border between being your true self and presenting a certain image of yourself is very thin. One could say that making media content on Instagram is always in a sense commercial, since you are trying to ‘sell’ a certain look to convince other people of you being on top of the world.

However, also real money is made by posting pretty pictures on the platform. HopperHQ’s list shows us Selena Gomez makes about half a million dollar per post. The biggest earning non-celebrity on Instagram is beauty blogger Huda Kattan, making about 18 thousand dollar per post.

Making media content just with the goal of making money is maybe an insult to traditional media workers, but it’s reality. As idealistic media critics we should not look down upon it by just calling it a tension. Instead, let’s see what’s in there for us.

References

Lampel, J., Lant, T. & Shamsie, J. Balancing act: learning from organizing practices in cultural industries. Organization Science 11(3) (2011), 263-269.

Mierzejewska, B. & Shaver, D. Key Changes Impacting Media Management Research. International Journal of Media Management 16 (2014), 47-54.

Don’t be afraid of the amateur

The investigative platform Bellingcat is known for its inventive research skills. It uses open source and social media to uncover important information, in example to point out the Russians were the ones that shot the deadly missile on the MH17 airplane in the summer of 2014. The work of Bellingcat has so far gained more and more attention in the world of journalism, since their research is of such high quality. The most recent example derives from this weeks news: the platform was consulted by mainstream media in the missing case of a young Dutch girl. Teacher at our master in Journalism and Media Henk van Ess is one of the researchers at Bellingcat nowadays.

One would almost forget that the platform was founded by a non-journalist, activist Elion Higgins, as an amateur network. In the discussion on the boundaries between professional journalism and amateur consumers participating in newsmaking, I think the focus lies too often on the negative. In example Hujanen (2013) seems to be quite neutral about it in his research, but still uses words like ‘challenge’ to describe the dynamics between professional journalists and their audience. Lewis (2012) even talks straight away about ‘the producer-user tension’ and ‘the struggle for control over content.’

In my opinion, examples like Bellingcat show us that we don’t have to be afraid of amateur journalism. When a platform does research work of high quality, it will be proven of oneself. All journalists have to do is be critical of their sources, be it a fellow newsroom, be it Bellingcat, as they always are.

References

Hujanen, J. At the Crossroads of Participation and Objectivity: Reinventing Citizen Engagement in the SBS Newsroom. New Media & Society 15(6) (2013), 947-962.

Lewis, S. The tension between professional control and open participation. Information,Communication & Society 15(6) (2012), 836-866.

Ybeltje who?

Last Monday, the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf published a big interview with the Dutch former member of parliament Ybeltje Berckmoes. Headline: ‘Failed MP rants at Liberal Party’. Berckmoes wrote a book on her time in parliament, in which she opens up about some striking practices of the Liberal Party’s fraction: drunk MP’s and MP’s killing working time with watching Netflix.

In framing this news, different frames were getting combined, in what Chong (2007) considers to be a ‘mix of considerations’. The frame of the Liberal Party (linked to stories of corruption and power abuse before) as being a party that has issues with use of power, is combined with Berckmoes as being a failed MP, thus being susceptible to power abuse by mighty Party members.

More interesting however is that the framing of Berckmoes as a failed and unknown MP (chairman of the Liberal Party Halbe Zijlstra: ‘Ybeltje who?’) has different reasons. According to Scheufele (2000), there are five powers at work in framing a news event. In my opinion, these five powers are not enough to declare the curious framing of Berckmoes as ‘silly woman Ybeltje’, since they don’t take into account the framing that Berckmoes herself causes (although she is not responsible for all of them): being dressed in a cute little dresses on the cover of her book, having a cute little name and a strong accent and talking about the chickens in her backyard in another interview concerning the issue.

The question is then: is Berckmoes aware of her contribution to the framing of her person and if she is aware of it, why does she present herself like this? It’s fascinating to wonder why, concerning the fact that the blames she makes about the Liberal Party are far from innocent.

References

Chong, D., & Druckman, J.N. Framing Theory. Annual Review of Policitcal Science 10 (2007) 103-126.

Scheufele, D.A. Agenda-Setting, Priming, and Framing Revisited: Another Look at Cognitive Effects of Political Communication, Mass Communication and Society 3 (2000) 297-316.

BREAKING NEWS: pictures of Rihanna beaten up by Chris Brown!!!

You’ll probably remember this news of more than eight (!) years ago like it happened yesterday. That’s because since then, the story – Chris Brown and Rihanna had a passionate relationship, ending when he beat her up in a car after a quarrel – kept hitting the newspapers year after year. Up until last August, when Chris ‘got into detail’ again about his relationship with Rihanna in a new documentary.

Why do we still want to read about the inside stories of a fatal love affaire that ended almost a decade ago? According to Galtung and Ruge (1965) in their standard work on the structures of news this has a few clear reasons. When the event refers to elite people (popstars), the event passes a threshold (the injuries in Rihanna’s face were really bad), when we can culturally relate to the event (a modern heterosexual relationship goes bad) and when the event is relevant to us (violence is something everyone has to deal with), it’s likely to become big news.
Also, according to Harcup and O’Neill (2001) an event will have a bigger chance of getting real news when it contains some good pictures. Rihanna’s pretty face all bruised and beaten up was shocking footage and therefore must have added to the newsworthiness of the story.

Concluding then, as Hanitzsch and Mellado (2011) point out, media also have influence on one another as reference groups: what do my colleagues write about? When shownews gets big, even The Guardian at some point will decide to make an item about it.

Luckily Riri didn’t get fed up with men because of the whole situation. It’s said that she’s dating a billionaire now who flew a life-size cuddling bear her way on his private jet just to impress her.

References

Galtung, J., & Ruge, M. H. The Structure of Foreign News. Journal of Peace Research 2(1) (1965), 64-91.

Hannitschz, T., & Mellado, C. What Shapes the
News around the World? How Journalists in Eighteen Countries Perceive Influences on Their Work. International Journal of Press/Politics 16(3) (2011), 404–426.

Harcup, T., & O’Neill, D. What Is News? Galtung and Ruge revisited. Journalism Studies 2(2) (2001), 261-280.