Routledge Encyclopedia of Citizen Media: Abstracts [J]

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Journalism Studies and Citizen Media

Karin Wahl-Jorgensen, Cardiff University, UK

This entry charts research on citizen media within the field of journalism studies. It opens by briefly situating citizen media within a broader historical context of participatory initiatives in journalism, including public journalism, alternative media and participatory journalism (Gillmor 2004). It then considers how the affordances of digital media have facilitated a range of new forms of citizen media, often embedded in mainstream media as user-generated content. These include a broad spectrum of practices, ranging from blogs and vlogs to footage of breaking news events.

With the rise of social media, participatory opportunities have proliferated and diversified, and have become unmoored from the practices, genres and styles of conventional news, facilitating “affective news streams” (Papacharissi 2015). This represents challenges to the self-understanding of professional journalism, as well as to long-standing conventions, such as the ideal of objectivity and the dominance of authoritative sources. Nonetheless, news organizations continue to seek to manage and co-opt citizen media practices while simultaneously carrying out boundary work to distinguish professional content from that produced by so-called amateurs. In the context of journalism, then, citizen media are shaped by the power relations and political economy underpinning a dynamic and always-changing institution.


Bruns, A. (2005) Gatewatching: Collaborative online news production, New York: Peter Lang.

Gillmor, D. (2004) We the Media: Grassroots journalism by the people, for the people, Sebastopol: O’Reilly.

Glasser, T. L. (ed.) (1999) The Idea of Public Journalism, Ne York: Guilford Press.

Papacharissi, Z. (2015) Affective Publics: Sentiment, technology, and politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Van Dijck, J. (2009) ‘Users Like You? Theorizing agency in user-generated content, Media, Culture, and Society 31(1): 41-58.