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The collaborative construction of news media: care-giving, knowledge building and early education by web 2.0 tools

Since the social media “revolution”, news discourse is co-constructed also by the audience. Mass Media is marked by what Jenkins (2006) calls “participatory culture”, which contrasts with older notions of passive spectatorship. New forms of interaction and communication emerge. Users often use web 2.0 tools to creatively elaborate content, which is then developed and ratified by other users. In their joint activity they co-construct different social-cultural realities, drawing from various knowledge sources, perceptions and understandings (Gosling, 2011). Research calls for a better understanding of the information ecology of new publications practices via web 2.0 conversation platforms. One aspect is the quality of information, its usefulness, trustworthiness and reliability (Dwyer et al., 2007; Finnin et al., 2008). In a social media ecosystem formed by the assemblage of different people, groups, organizations, web-based communication systems and mobile technologies, movement of content is one of the most critical affordances (Potts & Jonns, 2011).

This research focuses on interactions around and through ““, a website which targets parents in order to promote recent scientific findings on parenting, children’s health and other aspects dealing with the development of children. The site isn’t acting as an authored blog, rather it refers to and summarizes from refereed sources: research magazines for instance.

From an initial website, ““ has developed into a collaborative space for presenting, discovering, commenting on pre-given scientific results. The research uses a babyreporter-fan group on the social networking platform “Facebook”, where links for new articles are posted daily and readers can comment on them. Some interviews with people, belonging to the fan group of the Internet platform for parents are available as well. Commentators have to agree with their comment being presented as related to an actual article. Results will show that the orientation towards a collaboratively engaged audience matters: commentators reformulate their (initial) comments in wording or in providing additional content (cf. an exploratory study is underway).

A systematic analysis (e.g., practices of commenting in a double loop) of these practices traced from the website will be accompanied by interviews with the relevant users. Using interaction analysis, activity theory and virtual ethnography, cultural backgrounds as well as contexts of mediated social interaction will be investigated (Domínguez et al., 2007). Multiple perspectives will be taken into account, considering the fact that asynchronous communication generates more reflective speech given the absence of instantaneous response pressure (Arriazu, 2007). The interviews with users will further contribute to understand how users-producers of information assess the trustworthiness of information (formal aspects, authorship etc.). The expected outcome of the project is to produce recommendations how to create a credible (trustworthy) Internet-platform, which will combine both scientific news and user-generated content.


For further information, please contact Tetyana Karpenko.