On this paper
This paper is a result of the project News, networks, and users in the hybrid media system. Transformation of media industries and the news in the post-industrial era (RTI2018-095775-B-C43). We present our insights on the latest movements of the Spanish media industry and their influence in the conception of news production during 2020. Specifically, we focus on the implementation of news business models, namely paywalls and membership models, and the movements regarding intellectual property to protect the industry – and their impact on journalists as well. The irruption of the COVID-19 pandemics has accelerated some tendencies in this respect.
An expert panel linked to the research project News, Networks and Users in the Hybrid Media System. Transformation of the Media Industry and the News in the Pots-Industrial Era was held on the 9th of October, 2020, to improve the definition of approach to our research objects with the help of highly reputed scholars.
Richard Rogers, Tamara Witschge, Oscar Westlund and Irene Costera Meijer were invited, and kindly accepted, to join our research group to a hand-on meeting to deal about three specific questions:
- Which is the concept and nature of news?
- What is a hybrid media system?
- How should we focus our research on digital social networks and the news?
The session, held online because of the health situation, was conducted and moderated by Ana Serrano-Telleria, one of the heads of the aforementioned research project. She conducted the session, and has revised this report, which has been compiled and edited by Javier Díaz-Noci.
- A hybrid media system?
- Hybrid news
- The quality of news
- Media logics
- The producer’s perspective
- The audience and users’ perspective
- Social networks
- News and democracy
- Understanding the media landscape
- Summarizing it all
A hybrid media system?
The first question was about the nature and concept of news, or, more specifically, to which extent may be thought that news is a commodity. The question, as posed by Ana Serrano-Telleria, is “how we could approach both conceptually and methodologically this redefinition or description of the concept and nature of news”. Technological adaptation, but how could we approach methodologically these controversies?
Irene Costera Meijer considers the hybrid media system a central concept because it “enables us to not only understanding the changing media constellation and the changing media ecologies but also to understand how power works”, since in Andrew Chadwick’s book “the notion of power is crucial.” She thinks that “it not only opens up how media manipulate users but also the other way around, how users manipulate media.”
On the other hand, Richard Rogers prefers “more the notion of platformization, because it seems to me that the hybridity lies more in the platform.” Oscar Westlund agreed, because in his opinion “how everything connects with these platform companies in a form of hybridity.” Richard Rogers advanced some possible approaches from his point of view and experience: “Recently we completed a study for the Dutch Ministry of Internal Affairs and the question was to what extent is there a sort of misinformation, or disinformation problem in the Netherlands”. What was found in this research study was, directly related to our question: “We found quite a lot “junk”. And this is a sort of technical term that was introduced by the Oxford Internet Institute as a kind of corrective or something different to say than the notion of fake news. And they defined it as a range of different problems… a range of problematic information”.
Rogers insisted that “it’s a very broad term but it has to do with largely the rise of extreme speech masquerading as news on the one hand, and then, also, secondly what they call computational propaganda”. Oscar Westlund added that it is in the work by professional journalists “where we can distinguish, in my view, journalistic news from other forms of news produced by many actors.” It is important, and helpful to define the nature of news these days, “that there is now a kind of rising,emerging, sort of alternative media ecology that has those characteristics”.
Instead, Oscar Westlund thinks that “we have a large body of researchers that are making some really problematic assumptions about news” and that “we treat news as a form of blackbox”, so there is to a great extent many “normativity around the construction of this field” especially because “we have a lot of political communication scholars who study effects, they study news avoidance, they study incidental news exposure, cross-media news consumption”, and that “over a long period of time they have been using surveys, panel data”.
This hybrid media system approach, which Irene Costera Meijer likes because of the foregrounding of “complexity, interdependence, and transition. It is so because Chadwick’s approach of a hybrid media system is Hybrid thinking and the fact that it “rejects simple dichotomies, nudging us away from “either/or” patterns of thought and toward -not only, but also- patterns of thought.” Moreover, “it draws attention to flux, in-betweenness, the interstitial, and the liminal. It reveals how older and newer media logics in the fields of media and politics blend, overlap, intermesh, and coevolve. Hybrid thinking thus provides a useful disposition for studying how political actors, publics, and media of all kinds interact”, in Costera Meijer’s words.
Hybridity as a concept should be put under scrutiny, Tamara Witschge said as well, remembering an article by her, C.W. Anderson, David Domingo and Alfred Hermida, and The SAGE Handbook of Digital Journalism (2016), and the question that in “the field of digital journalism everything is hybrid, it has become synonymous with the digital, as if everything that is new is hybrid.”
Costera Meijer, Irene; Rogers, Richard; Westlund, Oscar; Witschge, Tamara / Díaz-Noci, Javier; Serrano-Telleria, Ana (eds.). Researching the news in the hybrid media system: An expert panel report. Barcelona: DigiDoc Research Group (Pompeu Fabra University), DigiDoc Reports, 2021
This paper is one of the results of the research project News, networks, and users in the hybrid media system. Transformation of media industries and the news in the post-industrial era (RTI2018-095775-B-C43 (Mineco/Feder), Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Competitiveness (2019-2021).
- Richard Rogers, Sabine Niederer. The Politics of Social Media Manipulation. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2020.
- Witschge, T.; Anderson, W.W.; Domingo, D.; Hermida, A. “Dealing with the mess (we made): Unraveling hybridity, normativity, and complexity in journalism studies”. Journalism, 2019, 20(5): 651 –659.
- Costera Meijer, I.; Groot Kormelink, T. Changing News Use: Unchanged News Experiences? – Disruptions. London: Taylor & Francis, 2020.
- Lewis, S.; Molyneux, L. “A Decade of Research on Social Media and Journalism: Assumptions, Blind Spots, and a Way Forward”. Media and Communication, 2018, 6(4).