Thursday, 31 January 2008

MIT Communications Forum Website: The Treasure of Discussions on Emerging Technologies

Check it out if you were not there. This website is the online record of the activities of the MIT Communications Forum.

For more than twenty-five years the Communications Forum has played a unique role at MIT and beyond as a site for cutting-edge discussion of the cultural, political, economic and technological impact of communications, with special emphasis on emerging technologies.

Leading scholars, journalists, media producers, political figures and corporate executives have appeared at conferences and panels sponsored by the Forum.

On the website you can find papers and abstracts of an array of respected people in the field. Enjoy it.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

New Technology and News Flows: Journalism and Crisis

Check out John Pavlik's paper from 2002 titled New Technology and News Flows: Journalism and Crisis Coverage that examines the role of new and emerging information technologies in the distribution of news and information during moments of crisis, with a particular focus on the U.S. and North America since September 11, 2001. Among the technologies examined are satellite communications and remote sensing, wireless Internet communications and mobile information acquisition devices.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Be a victim of a serial killer and commercial imperative

Check out this website, where you can send your friend a personalized "journalistic report" that s/he was a victim of a serial killer. The site was set by the producers of American series Dexter. It is funny, however, it is a sneaky way to get personal data, e-mail and occupation of people and exploit this information in commercial matter for instance. Maybe this could also be an issue discussed at today's meeting ...

Thoughts before today's meeting ...

What are the key conceptual issues related to the emergence of digital media and digital communications?
Key conceptual issues related to the emergence of digital media and digital communications are: digitalization and information society; interactivity and convergence; (virtual) community; identity; technology and context; politics, policy and regulation; public discourse; commerce and industry; education. However, these conceptual issues are interrelated and each of them can hardly be studied separately.

What theoretical concerns and kinds of research questions are posted about digital media developments from different disciplines?
The common ground of these issues in different disciplines is ethics. The question is how we should approach ethics related to the emergence of digital media and digital communications. I am especially interested in this issue in the context of producing content, more precisely, news production. I have been reading a book Online Journalism Ethics that is based on consolidated normative framework of »offline« journalism and taken into the context of cultural transformation of journalism (as a »profession« and as a »activity«) on the Web.

How do (some of) these notions (concerns about power relations, distribution of resources, human development and learning, creative expression, political life and organization) find expression in the study of digital media and communication?
These notions find expression inside key conceptual issues related to emergence of digital media and digital communications which are accordant with the chapters of the textbook and should be in this regard approached, studied and researched separately.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Blogs on Online Journalism

Check out two of the blogs dealing with online journalism.

Online Journalism Blog: it publishes comment, analysis and links covering online journalism and online news, citizen journalism, blogging, vlogging, photoblogging, podcasts, vodcasts, interactive storytelling, publishing, Computer Assisted Reporting, User Generated Content, searching and all things internet.

Journalism Enterprise: the site is the sister site of the blog mentioned above and it reviews websites that are attempting to make money from journalism in the new media age. That may be a mainstream organisation launching a new media spin-off, an internet startup looking to make millions, a non-profit news venture, or an entrepreneur setting up a solo project.

Online Journalism Review

If your are an online journalist or just interested in journlaism you should visit USC Annenberg Online journalism Review edited by Robert Niles. Interesting insights ...

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Dan Gillmor and We Media

Below you can enjoy Dan Gillmor's lecture titled "We the Media: Grassroots Journalism By the People". In 2004 Gillmor published a book with the same title, chronicling how the Internet is helping independent journalists combat the consolidation of traditional media. He is a director of Center for Citizen Media - check out its website, you will find some interesting content there. For those of you who do not know Gillmor check out his homepage and his blog.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Message of the Medium: Journalism of the Web and Determinism of Technological Determinism

When a new technological medium enters the world, we tend to think the world of it.
Arvind Rajagopal

“Better” technology does not automatically lead to “better” journalism.
Peter Dahlgren

“Medium is the message.” The idea of this sentence and other insights of its author have implicitly and explicitly entered the debates in the second half of the nineties in journalism studies: as utopia and as dystopia. On one hand, the Web was considered as a hope for ending the crisis of professional traditional journalism and the utopian phrases referred to journalism on the Web as “the revolution” (Stephens, 1998), “the future of journalism” (Newhagen and Levy, 1998; Pavlik, 1999; Singer, 1997), “the age of the net” (Heinonen, 1999; Hibbert, 1998; Kimber, 1997), “a whole new journalism” (Quittner, 1995). On the other hand, in the dystopian view the Web was simultaneously viewed as a threat to professional journalism and to the journalist as a traditional gate-keeper (cf. Dahlgren, 1996; Deuze, 2002; Kawamoto, 2003; Salwen, 2005). These opponent examples of hard technological determinism were raised despite the fact that journalism history acknowledges technology as to shaping journalism in, what Raymond Williams (cf. 1974/2005) calls “the long revolution”.

Departures from these naïve expectations in contemporary research (cf. Deuze, 2004, 2005; Singer, 2006; Dahlgren, forthcoming) are not signs that the Web does not revitalize journalism and democratize the public debate, but are signs that “the medium and its analysis are maturing” (Benkler, 2006: 215). The contemporary journalism studies therefore reject the ideas that the technology exclusively controls journalistic work, content of news, organization of the newsroom and the relationships between journalistic subjects and other hard deterministic explanations at the expense of a much broader cultural perspective on the relations of technology and journalism (cf. Hardt, 2004: 9). But still, soft technological determinism is very much present in the conquest for “better” journalism and is reflected in a number of normative models: “interactive journalism”, “citizen journalism”, “participatory journalism”, “second phase of public journalism” (cf. Nip, 2006). On the other hand, for instance the relationship between professional journalism versus blogging, wikinews and indymedia is understood as a dimishing of the former and the genesis of new forms of journalism: “black market journalism” (Wall, 2004), “personal journalism” (Allan, 2002), “amateur journalism” (Lasica, 2002), “interactive grassroots journalism” (Aufderheide, 2004).

Regardless to more extensive blurring of the lines between journalism and non-journalism in cyberspace than in mass media (cf. Splichal, 2000) even soft technological determinism cannot be generalized. There is a diversity of factors that shape journalism: professional culture, political pressures, economic pressures, pressures of sources of information and technological framework (cf. McNair, 1998; Boczkowski and Ferris, 2005, Quandt et al, 2006), therefore, the new technologies result in a complexity and heterogeneity of adaptability. “[T]he Internet does not simply move in and redefine the way everything works; it is largely assimilated via the already existing local and national traditions within journalism” (Dahlgren, forthcoming). In addition, Klinenber (2005) argues that journalism’s entering on the Web resulted not in gradual transformation of market-driven journalism and its discourse (cf. McManus, 1994), on the contrary, the goals of productivity, efficiency and profitability pushed traditional journalistic values even further to the margins. The Web as a journalistic environment is, in Resnick’s (cf. 1998) terms, “normalizing”. In this context the concept of the “networked public sphere” (cf. Benkler, 2006) can be regarded only as an ideal-typical notion, moreover, Thompson’s (cf. 1995) notion of the “mediatized public sphere” should not be forgotten.

The example of journalism on the Web confirms that technological determinism “is a reductionist reading of the contemporary or future world” (Burnett and Marshall, 2003: 11). However, the works of McLuhan, Innis, Mumford and other labeled technological determinists should not be neglected, in the context of interest the objective should be to highlight their utility by isolating on what their theoretical insights have provided in their work. In addition, technological determinism is in the core of the perennial debate in social sciences between those who emphasize structure and those who emphasize agency. This short text is not the place to attempt to close and overcome such a debate and division, it is rather an opportunity to ask the reader to keep the alternative viewpoints in mind while reading further texts on journalism of the Web. Determinism of technological determinism is the message of the medium.

Igor Vobič, Ljubljana, 2008

- Allan, Stuart (2002). Reweaving the Internet: Online news of September 11, pp. 119–40. In: Bardie Zelizer, Stuart Allan (Ed.): Journalism after September 11. London, New York: Routledge.
- Aufderheide, Patricia (2004). Big media and little media: the journalistic informal sector during the invasion of Iraq, pp. 333–46. In: Stuart Allan, Barbie Zelizer (Ed.): Reporting War: Journalism in Wartime. London and New York: Rotledge.
- Benkler, Yochai (2006). The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven, London: Yale University Press.
- Boczkowski, Pablo J., José A. Ferris (2005). Multiple Media, Convergent Processes, and Divergent Products: Organizational Innovation in Digital Media Production at a European Firm. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 597 (1): 32–47.
- Burnett, Robert, David P. Marshall (2003): Web.Theory: an introduction. London, New York: Routledge.
- Dahlgren, Peter (1996). Media Logic in Cyberspace: Repositioning of Journalism and Its Public, Javnost/The Public 3 (3): 59–72.
- Dahlgren, Peter (forthcoming) Media and Political Engagement: Citizens, Communication and Democracy. New York: Cambridge University Press.
- Deuze, Marc (2002): Online Journalism: Modeling the First Generation of News Media on the Web. First Monday 6 (10);;. 12 January, 2008.
- Deuze, Mark (2004). What is multimedia journalism? Journalism Studies, 5 (2): 139–152.
- Deuze, Mark (2005). What is journalism? Professional identity and ideology of journalists reconsidered. Journalism, 6 (4): 442–464.
- Heinonen, Ari (1999). Journalism in the Age of the Net. Changing Society, changing profesion. Tampere: University of Tampere.
- Hibbert, Bill (1998). Publishing and the Media Industries in the Digital Age. The Journal of Policy, Regulation and Strategy for Telecommunications, Information and Media 1: 393–403.
- Kawamoto, Kevin (2003) Digital Journalism: Emerging Media and the Changing Horizons of Journalism, pp. 1–31. In: Kevin Kawamoto (Ed.): Digital Journalism. Lanham: Rowan & Littlefield Publishers.
- Kimber, Stephen (1997). The Message is (Still) the Medium: the newspaper in the age of cyberspace. Information Processing & Management 33: 595–597.
- Klinenberg, Eric (2005). Covergence: News Production in The Digital Age. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 597 (1): 48-64.
- McManus, John H. (1994). Market-driven Journalism: Let the Citizen Beware. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
- McNair, Brian (1998): Sociology of News. London: Arnold.
- Newhagen, John E., Mark R. Levy (1998). The Future of Journalism in a Distributed Communication, pp. 9–21. In: D. L. Borden, K Harvey (Eds.): The Elctronic Grapevine: rumor, reputation and reporting in the new online environment. Manwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.
- Nip, Joyce (2006). Exploring the Second Phase of Public Journalism. Journalism Studies, 7 (2): 212–236.
- Pavlik, John V. (1999). New Media and News: implications for future of journalism. New Media & Society 1: 54–69.
- Rajagopal, Arvind (2006). Imperceptible Perceptions in Our Technological Modernity, pp. 277–286. In: Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Thomas Keenan (Eds.): New Media, Old Media. New York, London: Routledge.
- Resnick, David (1998). Politics on the Internet: the Normalization and the Public Sphere, pp. 48–68. In: C. Touluse, W. T. Luke (Ed.): The Politics of Cyberspace. London: Routledge.
- Quandt, Thorsten, Martin Löffelholz, David H. Weaver, Thomas Hanitzsch, Klaus-Dieter Altmeppen (2006). American and German Online Journalists at the Beginning of 21st Century. Journalism Studies 7 (2): 171–186.
- Quittner, Joshua (1995). The Birth of Way New Journalism. HotWired,, 12 December 2006.
- Salwen, Michael B. (2005) Online News Trends, pp. 47–80. In: Michael B. Salwen, Bruse Garrison, Paul D. Driscoll (Ed.): Online News and the Public. Mahwah, New Jersey, London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
- Singer, Jane B. (1997). Changes and Consistences: newspaper journalists contemplate online future. Newspaper research journal 18: 2–18.
- Singer, Jane B. (2006). Partnerships and Public Service: Normative Issues for Journalists in Converged Newsrooms. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 21 (1): 30–53.
- Splichal, Slavko (2000). Novinarji in novinarstvo, pp. 47–56. In: Slavko Splichal (Ed.): Vregov zbornik. Ljubljana: Evropski inštitut za komuniciranje in kulturo in FDV.
- Stephens, Mitchell (1998). Which Communication Revolution Is It, Anyway? Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 75: 9–13.
- Thompson, John (1995). The Media and Modernity: A Social Theory of Media. Cambridge: Polity Press.
- Wall, Melissa (2004) Blogs as black market journalism: A new paradigm for news, Interface: The Journal of Education, Community and Values,, 12 January, 2008.
- Williams, Raymond (1974/2005). Television: Technology and Cultural form. New York: Routledge.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

We do not need just three keys

This is CNN's step aside from their advertisment "You need just three keys: CNN" ... It is an interview with our old friend Andrew Keen and Tyler Brule on the topic of the effect that user generated content is having throughout journalism. Enjoy ...

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Is "our" Understanding of McLuhan a Cliché?

Here is a famous scene from Woody Allen's movie Annie Hall. Is McLuhan a cliché?

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Blogging Heroes

For Christmas I bought myself a new Michael A. Banks book Blogging Heroes. It contains interviews with 30 of "the World's Top Bloggers". How was the list made? "I looked around at who was doing what in the blogosphere. I cosulted the Technorati lists, Digg, Alexa and other resources to get an idea of which blogs were really popular, and which may have simply gamed the system to get on the list. / Sifting through the more active and popular blogs, I came up with a list of itneresting blogs in several categories. I read the blogs to get an idea of each blogger's style and background. I alos looked for buzz about othe popular bloggers and their blogs. Links from some of the blogs I was reading pointed to additional candidates for interviews. Still more were suggested by my editors and the interviewees themselves." (Banks, 2008: xii) Is this the methodology to get to the list of the "World's Top Bloggers"? Probably not - it is confusing and arbitrary ...

However, it is an interesting reading, because it gives you an insight into a broad palette of opinions on blogging, journalism, advertising and internet. I recomend it ...