Participation in the Hybrid Political Newsmaking and Its Consequences on Journalism Epistemology
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The contemporary hybrid media system has certainly enriched as well as entangled the forms of political participation. Among the wide array of participatory practices, this essay considers specifically those aimed at creating, gathering, spreading and verifying information. It discusses new participatory practices in the process of newsmaking. In the more inclusive contemporary cycles of political information, multiple new media actors, emerging elites and non-elites, can produce news and news outlets which can become “spreadable” in the older and newer media, creating hype around an issue and often influencing journalists’ agendas. Moreover, newer media actors can participate in the circulation of news by endorsing and contesting news items produced by professional and amateur, top-down and bottom-up, mainstream and alternative news media. This article discusses, summarizes and lists those participatory practices; it then analyses them closely in terms of journalism epistemology. Although issues related to epistemology are overwhelmingly important in journalism, particularly in the contemporary hybrid media system, they have been largely neglected in journalism studies. Epistemology in journalism is to be understood as the criterion of validity that enables journalists to distinguish the false from the true, the probable from the actual. The legitimacy of journalism is intimately bound up with claims of knowledge and truth. Hanitzsch (2007) identifies two dimensions of journalism epistemology: the objectivism/subjectivism and the empiricism/analytical approaches. This essay explores theoretically whether and how new forms of creating, gathering, spreading and verifying information by non-elite media actors and newer media elites can modify journalists’ epistemology. The journalists’ attitude to reality is producing contradictory results: it includes new elites in the newsmaking process as well as favoring the diffusion of misinformation.
keywordsJournalism; epistemology; hybrid media; political communication; participation.
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