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Literature review

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 5 months ago

Wiki journalism and participatory journalism


Andrew Lih places Wikis within the larger category of participatory journalism, arguing that the format "uniquely addresses an historic ‘knowledge gap’ – the general lack of content sources for the period between when the news is published and the history books are written." (2004b, p4).


Participatory journalism also includes blogs, citizen journalism models such as OhMyNews and peer to peer publishing models such as Slashdot. A useful framework for looking at wikis is provided by Bruns (2005), who suggests the following criteria for analysing peer to peer publications:


  • Participation at the input stage
  • Participation at the output stage
  • Participation at the response stage
  • Centrality of gatewatching
  • Fixed roles
  • Mobility of peers
  • Centralization of the organisation


Bruns uses these criteria to identify a number of site models including Closed News (a traditional news website such as the New York Times), Closed Gatewatching (MediaChannel), Supervised Gatewatching (Slashdot), Editor-Assisted Open News (OhMyNews), and Open News (IndyMedia). Wiki journalism could, potentially, fit into most of these categories depending on the individual example. Wikinews, for instance, fits the Open News model, where all content is published automatically and is then open for anyone to edit. The experiments of Wired and the LA Times would constitute Supervised Gatewatching, where some degree of editorial control rests with the news organisation (to set the agenda, or to pull the story entirely); and the San Diego Tribune's wiki is a form of Editor-Assisted Open News.


J.D. Lasica (2003) similarly offers a number of broad categories of participatory journalism:

  1. Audience participation at mainstream news outlets.
  2. Independent news and information Web sites.
  3. Full-fledged participatory news sites [such as OhMyNews]
  4. Collaborative and contributory media sites [WikiNews]
  5. Other kinds of "thin media." [such as email newsletters]
  6. Personal broadcasting sites [video blogs and podcasts]


WikiNews here would be of the collaborative type (4), while the San Diego Tribune's wiki is of the participatory type (3), and the LA Times' wikitorial was of the mainstream audience partipation class (1).


Bowman and Willis define participatory journalism as "The act of a citizen, or group of citizens, playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information. The intent of this participation is to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires." (2003, p10). They identify four types of news site: Open Communal; Open Exclusive; Closed; and Partially Closed. In this taxonomy, Wikinews would be classified as Open Communal (all publishing activity is carried out by the community); the wikitorial would be Open Exclusive (readers are only allowed to comment on published material); internal wikis such as Dewey Answers would be Closed (only privileged editors can access and participate).


Writers including Lih (2004b) and Bruns (2005) see wikis as part of a move towards journalism as process rather than product, a constantly updating 'story': what Hiler calls "iterative journalism" or Brian Eno's idea of the "unfinished" (both in Bruns, 2005).


Another useful perspective on the possibilities of wiki journalism is provided by Hume, who proposes "resource journalism" (2005), which

"Works to combine news about problems with news about a range of potential solutions to those problems, but it does not seek to encourage any particular action. Through carefully curated websites, resource journalism tries to offer a relevant selection of deeper information resources, a range of clearly labeled, diverse opinions, and interactive access points for citizens who may want to get involved."


Francisco (2006) identifies wikis as a ‘next step’ in participatory journalism: "Blogs helped individuals publish and express themselves. Social networks allowed those disparate bloggers to be found and connected. Wikis are the platforms to help those who found one another be able to collaborate and build together."


Walsh (2007) also notes the community-oriented nature of wiki websites: "the most important aspect [is] that people come together to do something constructive, something they consider to be important."


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