There’s a lot of interesting academic research going on in digital media — but who has time to sift through all those journals and papers? A team at Journalist's Resource, a project of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, has examined the new academic literature in media, social science, and other fields, summarizing the high points.
Now it’s time for a round-up of the best of the year, reported on by Nieman Lab here (http://www.niemanlab.org/2014/12/complicating-the-network-the-year-in-social-media-research/). Our own Assistant Professor Avery Holton made the list! Here's the write-up:
“Reciprocal Journalism: A Concept of Mutual Exchange between Journalists and Audiences”: Study from the University of Minnesota, the University of Utah, and the University of Texas at Austin, published in Journalism Practice. By Seth C. Lewis, Avery E. Holton, and Mark Coddington.
This study sketches out a new theory that is something like “audience engagement 3.0,” or “participation plus.” The specific coinage here, “reciprocal journalism,” seeks to advance the endless discussion among journalism circles about community engagement and go even a step further.
Despite its more democratic feel, participatory journalism as we know it is still mostly one-way: serving the news organization’s needs more so than the audience’s. Lewis, Holton, and Coddington focus on how Twitter, Facebook, and other social media can facilitate more reciprocal forms of journalism, whether directly (e.g., journalists exchanging tweets with followers one-to-one), indirectly (e.g., journalists returning favors not to particular individuals but to their communities as a whole, by encouraging discussion around certain hashtags), or sustained (e.g., journalists creating Facebook community pages where audiences can expect longer-lasting exchanges of goodwill among journalists and audiences).
This means journalists seeing their role as quasi-organizers of democracy, or “community-builders who can forge connections with and among community members by establishing patterns of reciprocal exchange.” Ultimately, the authors argue, “reciprocal journalism” isn’t describing some entirely new kind of journalism, but rather “points to the unrealized potential for a participatory journalism that has mutual benefit in mind, that is not merely fashioned to suit a news organization’s interests but also takes citizens’ concerns to heart.”