Fall, 2016 (Issue 26.1–2)

Online and Newsworthy: Have Digital Sources Changed Journalism?

Abstract submission deadline: 1 February 2017 (500 words max.)

When: Thursday, 25 May 2017, 8:30 – 13:00 (half-day)
Where: Hilton San Diego Bayfront, San Diego, CA
Organizers: Sophie Lecheler (U of Vienna), Sanne Kruikemeier (U of Amsterdam), Sarah Van Leuven (Ghent U), and Liesbeth Hermans (Radboud U)

View Call for Papers

What will your preconference be about?

We want to know to what extent the digital revolution has changed how journalists approach and use sources during the news production process. To do so, we invite scholars from both political communication as well as journalism studies or other related disciplines to showcase their original research focusing on one of four aspects of online sourcing in journalism. First, we ask which online sources are most prominent within news reporting, and/or whether they have replaced more traditional sourcing techniques? Second, we want to show research that asks why and how journalists use online sources during their daily work and in the newsroom. Third, we want to focus on the consequences of online sourcing for audience perceptions of journalism, for example in terms of the credibility of news and journalism. Fourth, we aim to investigate potential changes in the relationship between journalists and elite actors as sources, who now have multiple options to communicate with audiences directly. 

Why should we have this conference? Why is the topic covered and/or approach taken by your preconference (a) timely and (b) relevant? Why should people submit their work or plan to attend?

The use of reliable sources is one of the most important aspects of journalistic news production. However, when making news, journalists now increasingly use social media, websites, wikis, and online encyclopaedias as sources. In today’s 24/7 news cycles, online sources offer a quick, convenient, cheap, and effective way for journalists to gather information on developing stories, and they increasingly also trigger news stories. But, what are the consequences of online sourcing for the quality of news and the journalistic profession? Can all online sources be reliably verified? Do online sources change the power relationship between political actors and journalists?

A comprehensive answer to these (and other related) questions is pressing within the field of political communication and beyond. If the journalism-source relationship has changed, then this may have important consequences for the quality of political information citizens receive on a daily basis. In a time of political change, good and reliable news has become ever more important.

The preconference is also a place for interdisciplinary exchange. Journalistic sourcing is studied in political communication, but also in journalism studies and other sub disciplines.

What do you envision to come from your preconference: In which direction do you expect it to pull political communication scholarship? Does is it aim at fueling new collaboration and/or a specific kind of research?

This preconference aims at fueling new collaborations between scholars working in different sub disciplines. Therefore, we welcome both theoretical and empirical papers for the preconference, and want to encourage PhD students and young researchers to submit. As mentioned above, we also aim to bring together both qualitative and quantitative researchers, ranging from methods such as ethnographic research, interviewing, to content analysis, big data, survey and experimental designs. We encourage the use of different theoretical approaches to understand online journalistic sourcing techniques (e.g., framing, journalistic role perceptions, storytelling, conceptions of the newsroom). We also hope to inspire participating scholars to form working relationships that may lead to applications for future collaborative funding or a special issue within a related journal.

Online and Newsworthy: Have Digital Sources Changed Journalism?