What do citizens think of citizen journalism? Michael Karlsson and Christer Clerwall of Karlstad University and Lars Nord of Mid Sweden University used a survey and focus group interviews to explore and measure citizens’ views on user contributions in different parts of the journalistic process in Sweden.
According to the results, the respondents do not stress the importance of participation. Participation is not ranked highly when compared to other dimensions of journalism.
The survey results (n=2091) showed a mild interest and positive attitude toward participation. The focus groups (n=82), conversely, revealed a more skeptical view. Participation does not seem to increase engagement with news, and the respondents did not feel that it would add much value. Traditional journalistic gatekeeping and core functions of journalists were appreciated, to a large extent.
Participation was appreciated when it enhances the traditional practices. If the journalist lacks either time or expertise on the topic, citizen contributions can make a difference. The authors conclude that participation cannot attract those alienated from journalism and it might even weaken the social contract between audience and the media.
The article “The public doesn’t miss the public” was published in Journalism and is available online (free abstract).
Picture: Audience by Marc Cornells, license CC BY 2.0, cropped