Changing sourcing practices in live blogging vs online news

Authors: Thorsen, E. and Jackson, D.

Start date: 14 October 2017

Live blogs are creating new epistemological foundations for journalism that simultaneously incorporate a greater degree of transparency about journalistic processes and opportunities for dialogue with audiences (Thorsen, 2013 & 2014; Thurman & Newman, 2014), encompassing disparate topics from terror attacks (Bennett, 2016) to sports (McEnnis, 2015). While online news articles in general have evolved to follow more traditional conventions of storytelling (relying on the inverted pyramid structure and elite sourcing practices, for example) live blogs have disrupted conventions with a new form of journalism native to the web - one potentially more attuned to embracing audience engagement and ‘demotic voices’. So far, though, this is a claim that lacks detailed empirical exploration. In order to address this gap, our paper draws on a comparative content analysis of three UK news organisations - BBC News, the Guardian, and the Telegraph - that all regularly publish live blogs. We analyse the changing patterns of sourcing practices across different genres of live blogging, through a comparative analysis of events broadly categorised as crisis news, politics, and sports. We ask who is afforded voice, in what circumstances, and how these voices are framed by journalists. In total our analysis encompasses 46 live blogs and 485 corresponding online news articles from these websites, spanning 15 events between November 2015 - February 2016. We find that much of this potential remains unfulfilled and is better understood through what Brants and de Haan (2010) call a ‘strategic responsiveness’ on behalf of news organisations, rather than a genuinely ‘civic turn’ in newsmaking.

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