Part of my research has involved studying the adoption of blogging at the BBC.
One of the areas I studied was blogs as a platform for greater accountability in news.
The results of that research are in a chapter in the book, Web Journalism: A New Form of Citizenship?, which has just been published by Sussex Academic Press.
The publisher describes the edited volume as:
A much-needed analytical account of the implications of interactive participation in the construction of media content. Although web journalism is a fast-changing technology this book will have sustained appeal to an international readership by seeking to critically assess Internet news production.
My chapter is called Let’s Talk: How Blogging is Shaping the BBC’s Relationship with the Public, and looks at how the BBC has attempted to use blogging to provide greater transparency, particularly around its editorial decision-making.
Here’s an excerpt from the conclusion:
Blogs offered the BBC a platform to address the public in a way that goes beyond the publication of press releases, reviews and policy statements. In BBC News, The Editors blog provides a medium to address editorial issues in a timely fashion. Editors have welcomed the ability to adopt the personal and informal tone associated with blogs, marking a significant shift away from the impersonal and institutional abstract voice of authority of the Reithian era. There is evidence to suggest that audiences value this, given that blogs have become a favoured way for the public to interact online with the BBC.
During the period covered by this research, blogging was recognised by the BBC as a new media technology that encourages participation with the potential to foster a closer and more personal relationship with the audience than possible in broadcast. However, there are limits on how far the BBC has incorporated the participatory nature of blogs within its institutional structures. This research indicates that the corporation has yet to fully embrace blogs as a platform for a conversation with the audience, suggesting it is still heavily influenced by its broadcast culture and has adopted blogs as a publishing, rather than participatory, platform. Despite a rhetoric of accountability, editors and executives tend to consider blogs as a way to explain and justify decisions, rather than to engage in a discussion. Nevertheless, some editors are aware of the limitations of current BBC blogging practices. Indeed some bloggers are experimenting with ways of fostering greater dialogue – an endeavour more appropriate to the format’s participatory promise.
I am also the co-author of a chapter on participatory journalism and the mainstream media in the UK with my colleague Neil Thurman.