The Open Newsroom: the broadcast news ecosystem in an era of online media migration and audience participation

Murwira, Vincent
Hirst, Martin
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Master of Communication Studies
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Auckland University of Technology

The media has always gone through changes, starting from the era of the Gutenberg printing press several centuries ago, to the introduction of radio and television in the last 100 years. In the last two decades, Internet and digital technologies have rapidly transformed the media and reshaped how news is gathered and disseminated, and re-defined audiences and their role in the media. Before the Internet, news dissemination was scheduled and periodic, for example the 6pm television bulletin or weekly newspaper. Today news is now global and published in 24/7 round the clock news cycles. At this time, there were clear demarcations between radio, television and newspapers, which were all separate entities. These demarcations have largely fallen away as all media have migrated online to publish on the same platform, using the same elements such as text, audio and video. Increasingly, television is migrating online to the degree that forecasts predict that online television will eclipse traditional TV as we now know it, just as much as online newspapers have eclipsed traditional newspapers. This debate is widely contested In pre-Internet days, the media had distinct demarcations between the media owners, news gatherers (and production people), like journalists, and the audience. These demarcations are blurring as audiences increasingly participate in the media resulting in the emergence of a new breed of journalists; the citizen journalist. This is the most popular term used to describe these new journalists. The dynamic nature of the online platform and functionalities like Web 2.0 made it possible for anyone to publish themselves online, on a blog, on social networking sites or to set up their own website, at very little or no cost. This has spurred a lot of creativity, and the wider public has created vast amounts of content such as video, audio and text and submitted or published them online. Consequently, content creation is no longer the preserve and domain of the media and journalists; the ubiquitous nature of the Internet and the availability of other enabling technologies: inexpensive digital technologies like video cameras, digital cameras and recorders means that anyone with access can now create content and disseminate it. Debates in many parts of the world have suggested that these abilities are catalysts that could spur the public into contributing news and video content of breaking news to the media and help keep the 24/7 round the clock news cycle current. After all, some online social networking sites have already demonstrated that citizens possess the skills to produce and publish video content. At a time when the media is facing financial pressure due to reduced advertising revenues, caused in part by the economic crisis and by the shift to the online platform, there are suggestions that citizens could help newsroom budgets by contributing material. It is against this background of rapid online migration by the media, and the emergence of this new breed of news gatherers, that this research on the Open Newsroom is set. The research topic is not new; a body of research about online migration of the media and the new news ecosystem exists in many other countries. In New Zealand however, this is still an emerging area of for research. This research monitored news bulletins on New Zealand’s two main television news channels, 3 News on TV3 and One News on Television New Zealand for 12 months from early 2008 to late 2009. The idea was to gauge and analyse the amount of content submitted by citizen journalists. The research also looked at a case study which illustrated the potential dangers of using news content submitted by citizen journalists. The research sought the professional opinions of a wide range of decision makers and influential people from the New Zealand media such as editors, journalists and publishers and those involved in the training of journalists in New Zealand. Using a Mini-DV video camera and a digital audio recorder, the researcher filmed and recorded interviewees and edited video clips of the interviews which were then published in the media gallery on the website The interviews sought to find out and discuss the online migration by the media, the new news ecosystem, the public’s participation in the media and the benefits and disadvantages of citizen journalism. To put the research into perspective, the website also carries some research articles and literature reviews on the media. The research findings from the interviews with New Zealand media professionals who participated in the study match trends happening in many countries. While most value the potential benefits of citizen journalists in the news process, some strongly expressed a great deal of skepticism and suspicion regarding news contribution from nontraditional journalism sources. In general, the research offered a series of insights into modern media rather than clear-cut answers

broadcasting and online migration , online media , citizen journalism , online television , IPTV , gatekeeping , news ecosystem
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