Web 2.0 platforms and the work of newspaper sport journalists

An article by Merryn Sherwood and Matthew Nicholson

Reports on the research that explores whether Australian newspaper sport journalist use Web 2.0 in their work and, if they do, how.

  • Journalism is regarded as “a dominant force in the public construction of common experience” (Schudson, 2003: 13)
  • Changes in the way journalist do their work often driven by technology- the printing press, typewriter, telephone, radio and TV all impacted on researching, sourcing and reporting news.
  • Web 2.0 has had the most impact ( Hirst 2011; Rosenberg and Feldman 2008)
  • “second generation”
  • “There is a clear separation between a set of highly popular Web 2.0 sites such as FB and Youtube and the ‘Old web'” (Krishnamurthy, 2008)
  • Web 2.0: platform on which innovative technologies have been built and a space where users are treated as first class objects.” (Cormode and Krishnamurthy, 2008)
  • Biggest difference from 1st Generation of internet: level of interaction and accessibility for users.
  • Internet no longer a system in which most users can simply be regarded as content consumers- now anyone can be a content creator.
  • “all participants have become produsers” – both consumers and producers of content (Bruns, 2008b)
  • Defining feature of Web 2.0 is social networking.

(FB) The social networking service allows users to ‘friend’ other users, share text updates, photos and private messages with a large emphasis on interacting online through ‘liking’ and commenting on the ‘status’ of friends.

(Twitter) microblogging service that allows users to publish ‘tweets’ of 140 characters, and interact through tools such as ‘@replies’ which allow a user to tag another user, and ‘hashtags’, whereby placing a hash(#) in front of a word or phrase turns it into a searchable link.

(YouTube) an online video service that allows people to discover, watch and share originally created videos (YouTube, 2011)

  • Social media and traditional media: These Web 2.0 platforms have fundamentally changed communication in the 21st century and therefore, as an industry whose primary message is to communicate, it is not surprising they have been quickly adopted by the media.
  • The effect of the internet on journalism: what the new level of interactivity means for: the role of journalists as gatekeepers; source relationships; ethics in the online space; how online platforms have impacted work practices; how speed is impacting on journalistic values; and the use of Twitter to research, source and report. Overarching theme of research is that while journalists are essentially adopting these new Web 2.0 platform within the boundaries of traditional journalistic values, the boundaries are shifting.
  • Some suggest that these changes in traditional journalistic paradigm have changed newswork and values for the better, making it more transparent and based on what audiences want (Anderson WB, 2011)
  • Essay: The rise of Web 2.0: some are calling it the death of journalism and the rise of ‘churnalism’ (Davies, 2008; Rowe, 2011) where speed is more important that fact-checking.
  • body of research that suggests that Web 2.0 platforms are perhaps having the most impact on newspaper journalists.
  • Changes to the way journalists do their work is often driven by technology- the printing press, typewriter, telephone, radio and television.
  • definition of Web 2.0: “both a platform on which innovative technologies have been built and a space where users are treated as first class objects” (Cormode & Krishnamurthy, 2008)
  • major difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 the level of interaction and accessibility for users.
  • UGC: All participants have become ‘produsers’- both consumers and producers of content. (Bruns, 2008b)
  • The concept of journalism as a newswork contends that journalists work to a routine, which is organised according to a set of shared cultural ideas, professional guidelines and systems of news values.
  • “organisations has been a fundamental part of the newsroom since its inception, a journalist’s work routine is predetermined, there are rules for gathering and selecting news.” (Altmeppen, 2008)
  • Creating a work routine for unexpected events simply ensures that covering them is possible.
  • Pavlik, 2000: Technology has changed journalism in 4 ways-

the content of news; the structure or organisation of the newsroom; the relationships between or among news organisations, journalists and their many public; and how journalist do their work.

  • Two largest areas of research have examined the relationship between news organisations, journalists and public (with the rise of citizen journalist threatening traditional media roles)  and how journalists actually do their work.
  • research examines the rise of the audience as a content producer.
  • How citizen journalists create news and challenge the traditional gatekeeper and how journalists have reacted to this new development.
  • How journalists do their work–  O’Sullivan and Heinonen, 2008: journalists from 11 different European countries used online platforms as their primary research tool, a positive development in a profession that is time poor.
  • Web 2.0 has changed work practices for the worse- Reinardy, 2010:

the speed required to file stories for online platforms, rather than a later newspaper deadline, clashed with traditional journalistic values.

  • New platforms like Twitter are ‘awareness systems’- Herminda, 2010:

Concept of Twitter as ‘ambient journalism’ provide journalists with more complex ways of understanding and reporting.

Twitter “helps to facilitate a new model of the accepted news model, one where sources are no longer always official”

  • New technology has simply been adapted into traditional journalistic practices.
  • Despite the blog platform calling for a more opinionated, less formal and more interactive style, journalists remained gatekeepers and adhered to other traditional norms and practices.
  • Study of journalists on Twitter– Lasorsa et al. 2011: while some journalists expressed opinion more frequently on the microblogging website, journalists who worked for elite news outlets e.g. national newspapers, were less likely to engage in the features that Twitter allows like interacting with other users, linking to external websites and sharing personal information- all prominent features of all Web 2.0 platforms (Cormode & Krishnamurthy, 2008)
  • Twitter gave an extra personal dimension that allowed them to further to develop stories, or hook onto another story.
  • credibility of twitter: journalists wouldn’t break news on Twitter because it wasn’t directly associated with their respective newspapers. “you break stories in newspapers because you are paid by the newspaper to do that. Twitter doesn’t pay you to do that”
  • Twitter was the use of the micro-blogging service as a source- seek to verify something said on Twitter before using it in their own story.
  • Fan forums:

used for research to gain public opinion, but not for hard news

seeking to understand fans thought

ideas from fans- valuable opinion and knowledge from fan community “I think that probably the days where the journalists could be a class of experts and everyone else would sort of take their opinion, well they are long gone.”

fans on fan forums were actually club insiders- good sources

sometimes ‘left field’ and the ‘hardcore’ type of fan.

reasons not to use fan forums: often contained personal criticism of journalists and not as important for a journalists who did not have a beat.


  • Facebook:

Journalist deemed FB to be a private social media platform, and not for work whilst Twitter was public and often only used for work.

Use FB to research and report but information was obtained from public profiles and accessible to everyone.

Unethical to use anything from someone’s profile without seeking permission first.


  • Twitter used to research and monitor news
  • main use of Twitter for journalists is breaking and disseminating news or soliciting sources (Hermida, 2010)
  • Journalists reluctant to use Twitter as the only source
  • “A single user may have multiple intentions or may even serve different roles in different communities” (Java et al. 2009:63)
  • Using fan forums reinforced the traditional journalistic practice of gatekeeping, or selecting, transforming and focusing information into “manageable subset of media messages” (Shoemaker and Vos, 2009)
  • Journalist have an important role for themselves as sensemakers in the online age, using their expertise to tell public what is news.



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