Television News and User-Generated Video: How Journalists Are Normalising the Use of Social Media Video Within Contemporary Primetime News Bulletins in Aotearoa New Zealand
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Since the development of the Internet and the interactive affordances of Web 2.0, social media material has become an integral part of news as journalists incorporate user-generated content (UGC) into their work. While the phenomenon frequently has been investigated within newspaper and online settings, this study explores the implications for primetime television news. It has found that user-generated video (UGV), in particular, is broadening the way news stories are being told, and that social media content has become valued for its ability to draw audiences beyond reportage and into the entertainment realm. The study, which focuses on primetime television news bulletins broadcast in Aotearoa, New Zealand, draws on a social constructionist perspective where a mixed-method approach incorporates both quantitative and qualitative frameworks to capture and explain how journalistic norms have shifted in response to social media video. The study investigated 3,360 minutes of videotaped recordings of primetime news bulletins between June and July 2018 and found one-third of the news on New Zealand’s mainstream television networks featured Tweets, posts and imagery sourced from social media sites, of which one tenth was video. Through the application of critical discourse analysis (CDA) and participant observation, the news texts and the routines of journalists were investigated revealing that user-generated video had become a normalised element of television broadcast news bulletins. Furthermore, while the boundaries between professional and amateur remain, there is evidence of a morphing between traditional and social news that has implications for the sector. The findings contribute to an international body of knowledge in the areas of television broadcast journalism, social media and paradigm repair where there have been significant changes in the power and dominance of social media since the invention of the Internet. The study also shows that television journalists are drawing on their natural resilience to maintain relevance within the broader news landscape as they face the challenges and opportunities that user-generated video affords them, while also providing a valuable benchmark for longitudinal studies.