Trees!

By Lune van der Meulen

In her essay, Emily Bell (2014) argues the following: “everybody suddenly got a lot more freedom. The newsmakers, the advertisers, the startups, and, especially, the people formerly known as the audience have all been given new freedom to communicate, narrowly and broadly, outside the old strictures of the broadcast and publishing models.”

The new initiative Trees by two Dutch broadcasting stations VPRO and Human, responds to these developments. This blogpost will give a SWOT-analysis in the current media market of this new initiative .

Strength: Trees gives complete insight in the journalistic process. This entails that the journalists will share their choices, considerations and insecurities with their audience and they will make use of their input. This is a great strength since trust in journalists decreased. This transparancy is likely to have a positive impact on the degree of trust by the audience. Another strength is that Trees responds to the changing media use of young people since Trees can reach them through their mobile phones and headphones.

Weaknesses: Although Trees aims to reach a young audience through the use of an app and by presenting their stories as podcasts, they still have no plan on how to come up with stories that would specifically attract a younger audience.

Opportunities: Trees should incorporate their social media pages to enthousiast a young audience, and keep them up to date with any progress.

Threats: A threat to Trees could be that they will not succeed to engage the audience. If this happens, the whole point of Trees will go to waste.

References:

Anderson, C. W., Bell, E., & Shirky, C. (2015). Post-industrial journalism: Adapting to the present. Geopolitics, History and International Relations, 7(2), 32.

https://www.vpro.nl/lees/nieuws-vpro/2017/trees.html

 

Diversity is hip

By Lune van der Meulen

“This is perhaps obvious but important because, for all the hand-wringing about representativeness in audience studies and access in production studies, it simply reaffirms that audiences and producers are also and have always been social constructions, represented as unified groupings to serve industrial needs.” This is stated by Vicki Mayer (2011).

In 2017, the idea behind this statement is very present in time. According to the subtitle of an article in the Dutch newspaper NRC “diversity is hip.” The media industry, finally gives (some) room for discussion about diversity. An example of this, is the Netflix original series “Dear white people.’’ In this drama television series a group of African-American students is followed on campus. In older days many people who weren’t white, would never recognize themselves on television. And even when people color or minorities were represented in television, it was all very stereotype based. Historically, both production and audience studies were grounded in a concern for the ways media consumers and makers largely reproduced the hegemony of the most powerful media institutions in society (Vicki Mayer, 2011).

Luckily the times are changing and series like Dear White People, Master of None and Orange is the new black are pushing boundaries.

References:

https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2017/05/16/beste-blanken-zwart-zijn-doet-pijn-9089001-a1558788

Mayer, Vicky. “The Places Where Audience Studies
and Production Studies Meet.” Television & New
Media 17.8 (2016): 706-718. Print.

Blurred Lines

By Lune van der Meulen

Is there a blurred line between journalists and a non-journalist since digital innovation? The opinions about this differ. Pieter van den Blink (editor at 360 Magazine and former editor at Trouw and Vrij Nederland) states that only journalists used to have the power to decide what to write about. Sometimes a reader or a non-journalist would call the newspaper to tip a subject, or to request an article about a certain topic. Journalist could decide whether they’d say thanks but no thanks, or to use this tip. These days, the press doesn’t have this power anymore since non-journalists are able to write about anything that they want to online.

Also, writers and journalist are now facing with the facts of the web analytics. If an article scores badly online and it ensures only very few clicks, the editorial office knows this instantly through web analytics. This also works the other way around, popular articles can be analysed. This could have an impact on which articles or what topics newspapers or news organizations chose to publish about.

On the other hand the input of readers can also work in the advantage of journalists. An example of this is The Correspondent that uses the input and expertise of their readers, or their “community of tribe” to contribute to research process. They seem to understand exactly what Edson, Tandoc and Thomas wrote in 2015: “The role, however, should not swing mindlessly into providing what the audience wants. The role should be about understanding what the audience wants and how journalists can take that information and balance this against what the audience needs. It is an unusual responsibility, but journalism is an unusual public good.”

References:

Edson C. Tandoc Jr. & Ryan J. Thomas (2015) The Ethics of Web Analytics, Digital Journalism, 3:2, 243-258

De toekomst van de journalistiek: tussen filter bubble en dorpspomp

NRC: online first

By Lune van der Meulen

According to Deuze and Prenger ( 2015) innovation has been key to structural developments in journalism. An example of innovation in a journalism company is the following: Major Dutch newspaper NRC had a separate online editorial office for the past 22 years. This just ended.

The online editorial office started in 1995, when NRC launched its first website. In the nineties, the grand future of online content could not yet be predicted. The website was only used to complement the newspaper only. This is a totally different story than how newspapers see their online content these days.

There is no separation anymore in between the online office and the physical newspaper office. NRC started working with an online first focus. All of the editors write their articles in the first instance for their website, shared through social media. This transition towards an online focus happened in October 2015. Now, two years later, NRC decided to mix this al together. It would be fair to say that NRC did exactly what Prenger and Deuze (2015) describe in their article, they embraced a dual management process: “to protect and enhance the existing way of doing things, as well as to experiment and explore new business models, new creative cycles or productivity routines, and so on.”

References:

https://www.villamedia.nl/artikel/nrc-schaft-online-redactie-af-alle-redacteuren-nu-internet-first

Deuze, Mark & Prenger, Mirjam, “The structural
history and theory of innovation and
entrepreneurialism in journalism”, forthcoming in
Boczkowski, Pablo & Anderson, Chris, Remaking the
News, Cambridge: MIT Press. 2016. Print
Recommended reading • Barnhurst, Kevin G. & Nerone, John, “Chapter 2:
Journalism History”, Wahl-Jorgensen, Karin &
Hanitzsch, Thomas. The Handbook of Journalism

 

 

 

Transition in journalism & digital safety

By Lune van der Meulen

The Internet and the digital revolution changed the work of journalists tremendously. When a journalist would write an article on a certain politician, company or foundation, he or she had to spend hours of work going through archives just to find some background information. Now we can just enter a search in Google.

At the turn of the 21st century, journalist and media companies had high expectations of all the advantages that would come along with new technologies. Newsrooms innovated; those innovations were to a large extent innovated by economic considerations (Tameling & Broersma, 2013).

These days, journalists and media companies are becoming more and more aware of the disadvantages that came along with the digital revolution, especially when it comes to safety and privacy. This only recently became a matter of concern. In response to this, The New York Times hired Runa Sandvik last year, a digital safety expert and a previous hacker. She teaches journalists to arm themselves digitally, and to help them protect their sources. At the beginning of last year, Sanvik’s job wasn’t even a thing, but now she has one of the most important roles at The New York Times.

In order to be better journalists, and to keep our sources safe, it is in my opinion extremely important to learn from hackers and digital safety experts. Therefore I would argue that Dutch newspapers and television stations follow the example of the New York Times as soon as possible.

References:

  • Tameling, Klaske, Broersma, Marcel. “De-converging the newsroom: strategies for newsroom change and their influence on journalism practice.” Gazette 25.1 (2013): 19-34. Print.
  • https://www.demorgen.be/buitenland/deze-vrouw-leert-the-new-york-times-zichzelf-en-zijn-bronnen-te-beschermen-b31d5f3f/

Media convergence craziness

By Lune van der Meulen

Listening to your favorite podcast on your iPhone, which is connected to your Bluetooth speaker, while writing a blogpost on your laptop doesn’t mean that you cannot give your friends an update about your adventures from last weekend on Whatsapp. These days, we cannot only do it all, we can do it all at the same time.

This development can be thanked to the proliferation of channels and the portability of new computing and telecommunications technologies. In an article by Henry Jenkins about media convergence written in 2004, he states that “we are entering an era where media will be everywhere and we will use all kinds of media in relation to each other.” Now, in 2017 we can say loud and clear that we have long passed the entrance to this era.

Although media convergence is efficient and can be very handy, it is not necessarily good for our mental health. The effects of the constant flow of information have huge impact on our wellbeing. Since the invention of the iPhone ten years ago, people became addicted to the endorphins released every time they receive a notification or a “like”. Therefore, the Belgian Safety Institute will launch a campaign in January to make people aware of the impact that comes with it.

We cannot be sure whether the Belgian campaign will have the desired effects, but I am sure that a little digital detox every once in a while we’ll keep us from driving crazy.

References:

  • Jenkins, Henry. “The cultural logic of media convergence.” International Journal of Cultural Studies 7.1 (2004). Print.
  • https://www.demorgen.be/binnenland/nood-aan-digitale-detox-b7e0d3a7/

Thresholds and boiling points

By Lune van der Meulen

What’s news and what isn’t? Is it news when a dog bites a mailman? Not really. And what if the dog belonged to president Trump? That would already be more newsworthy. But now; what if the mailman bit the dog of president Trump? Well, that would definitely become a news story.

The degree of newsworthiness depends on certain conditions. Galtung and Ruge (1965) made an overview of factors that are of influence on the newsworthiness of certain events. Next to unexpectedness and the reference to elite people, they also state that events “have to pass a threshold, before being recorded at all” (Galtung & Ruge, 1965, pp. 66). This factor can be clearly demonstrated by a current news event: the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.

The Muslim minority Rohingya has been persecuted for many years by Myanmar’s so-called security forces, and even the UN stated Myanmar’s army might have committed ethnic cleansing.

This story, however, has only recently become an actual news story. Only since violence was used by a part of the Rohingya at the end of August, media started to cover.

The Rohingya attacked the armed police of Myanmar with handmade weapons, this wasn’t just a regular attack. According to Laetitia van den Assum, it’s a true revolt because their boiling point has been reached.

It’s unfortunate that even 52 years after the article by Galtung and Ruge appeared, thresholds still have to be passed, and apparently, boiling points have to be reached in order to become relevant to the media.

Reference:

  • Galtung, Johan and Mari Holmboe Ruge. “The Structure of Foreign News” Journal of Peace Research 2.1 (1965): 64-91. Print.

 

Love arranged by algorithms

These days, algorithms are in power of everything: they even choose the one you love. Well, only if you decide to find love online. Once you register for online dating website Parship, you’ll find yourself filling out a very detailed questionnaire, constituted by a 136 line long algorithm. This is not just guesswork; Parship based the algorithms on theories presented by sociologist Georg Simmel and psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud.

Would it be fair to say that letting algorithms arrange your love matches is the ultimate consequence of personalized media use?

If so, then that might mean that Caplan and Boyd’s (2016) concerns might be applicable to love arranged by algorithms as well. They question whether the personalization of media use can lead to people only turning to topics that they find of interest, and that this may lead to cultural elites that produce a rejection of universality and diversity. We can argue that a partner arranged for us by algorithms is most likely to be very similar to ourselves in terms of social class and background. If everyone would partner up with someone very similar, this would definitely produce a decrease of diversity, and therefore maybe a rejection of universality.

Luckily we can still call into question whether these matches arranged by algorithms really work. Psychologist Eli Finkel states that dating websites make false claims, based on weak scientific theories. Although obviously, dating websites can be useful, if only it were because everyone in their databases is looking for a relationship. But to this day there still has not been any convincing peer reviews.

But it might be yet to come according to Eli Finkel: technologies are constantly improving to pick up information that cannot be detected by self-reporting tools. So who knows, in the future, we won’t leave love to chance.

Sources:

Caplan, R., & Boyd, D. (2016). Who Controls the Public Sphere in an Era of Algorithms? Data&Society, 1-19.

Tielbeke, J. (2017) Uitgehuwlijkt door een algoritme. De Groene Amsterdammer, 141 (28-29).