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Reader-Participation in Online Newspapers: An Asset or a Limitation, According to Professional Journalists?

Chapter in book
Authors Ulrika Andersson
Published in Advances in Communication and Mass Media Research
Pages 11-22
ISBN 978-960-6672-95-8
Publisher ATINER
Place of publication Athens
Publication year 2010
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Pages 11-22
Language en
Keywords Reader-participation, journalists, online newspapers, professional journalism, journalister, användarskapat innehåll, chefredaktörer
Subject categories Media and Communications


For the past years, focus on reader-participation in online news media has increased rapidly in post-industrial societies. Online newspapers offer their readers opportunities of participation, such as submitting comments on articles, or uploading personal pictures and movies. Some engage readers to contribute via personal blogs that are published as integrated part of the newspaper’s website. Most newspapers encourage readers to send pictures and information of occurrences that may be of interest for local as well as national news coverage. Newspaper managers often regard reader-participation as potential ways to strengthen the ties between journalists and readers, and also to strengthen the newspaper brand. In addition, reader-participation is stressed as one possibility to complement the news content, as readers may monitor areas that are usually not addressed in traditional news coverage. From this point of view, readers may help to improve journalism. But how do professional journalists perceive the focus on reader-participation? Do journalists also emphasise the beneficial parts of reader-participation, or do they stress more critical point of views in this sense? At what point are reader-contributions found to be an asset in journalistic work, and when do contributions from the audience start to intrude on professional integrity? Those are focal issues analyzed in this paper. Based on a survey of Swedish newspaper journalists – conducted in 2009 – the result revealed that journalists often found reader-participation to be benefitial for journalism, though also related with some drawbacks. The result were analyzed and explained in relation to organizational and professional theory of journalism.

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