Media research: Quantity or Quality?

October 31, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Researchers occasionally make us aware of the insanity of scholarly “productivity“. The publish or perish system young researchers are forced into and the brutal competition they face. Thomas Hanitzsch, of the University of Munich, has published an essay lamenting the absurd consequences of the “gold standard“ of research productivity.

Hanitzsch reported that 4800 journal articles in the field of communication studies were published in 2012, a 470% increase compared to 980 articles in 1999.

However, new knowledge in the field of communication studies has not quintupled since 1999 according to Hanitzsch, who is part of an international team conducting the Worlds of Journalism research project comparing journalism cultures in 21 different countries. Read more

Internationalizing Media Research in Europe

September 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Media research in Scandinavian countries is being internationalized, reflecting a Europe-wide trend towards publishing and working across national borders. The number of articles published in international journals by Nordic academics has doubled in the last ten years, according to a recent study by David Fernández-Quijada, a media analyst at the European Broadcasting Union.

Fernández-Quijada analyzed the publication patterns of communication scholars from the five Nordic countries, by applying bibliometric techniques to over 500 articles published in international scientific journals from 2001 to 2010. He found that internationally published research articles had increased by 243 per cent during that period. Scandinavian academics predominantly co-authored research or collaborated with Anglo-Saxon scholars, particularly from North America.

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Let’s Communicate Our Research!

September 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

One of the main aims of the European Journalism Observatory (EJO) is to promote dialogue between media researchers and practitioners.

On the occasion of the EJO’s 10th anniversary we will be presenting and discussing best practice strategies in communicating media research from different academic and journalism cultures at this year’s European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA) conference. How can we reach a broader public with our research results and communicate more effectively with journalists and via social media in today’s “knowledge society”? Read more

Grace and Favour? A Study of Twitter Favourites.

June 23, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Twitter is a key platform for information dissemination and exchange and a significant tool for journalism but there is as yet little research on how one of its key functions – the favouriting of tweets – actually works.

Researchers Florian Meier, David Elsweiler (both from University of Regensburg), and Max Wilson (University of Nottingham) studied the motivation of Twitter users to use this function.

Favouriting appeared on Twitter in November 2006. The users can favourite tweets by clicking on an accompanying small star-shaped icon. As a result, the favourited tweets can be located on separate timeline and accessed faster by both the user and their followers. Meier, Elsweiler and Wilson’s research shows this function is becoming more popular: in May 2013 the star was clicked 1.6 billion times, four times higher than a year before. Read more

Bridging Political Coverage and Cynical News Consumers

June 5, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

News is growing more negative. Research shows this is a a growing trend in political news and articles. Researchers argue that the political stories are commonly framed negatively, and the cynical coverage appears focused on the conflicting aspects of politics. However, is the increase of negative political coverage dictated by the newsrooms or is it a result of readers’ preferences for negativity?

This is the issue studied by Marc Trussler at Vanderbilt University and Stuart Soroka at McGill University, who argue reader’s preferences (demand-side of news), is more important than news provider’s preferences (supply-side of news). They demonstrate that the readers, indeed, prefer the negative political news. Read more

The Scandinavian Way: Turn Readers into Customers

May 8, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

The search for an online journalism business model which not only survives but also guarantees publishers a future on the web, demands re-thinking of existing online news-service models. The Scandinavian Schibsted Media Group has been experimenting with a new approach using online journalism and the traffic it generates as means to sell the group’s other digital services. This model has been discussed  in a recent paper, published by Jens Barland, Associate Professor at the Gjøvik University College in Norway and included in the book “New Nordic Journalism Research” recently published by Nordicom Review.

Journalism brings the clicks, services bring the money.

The Swedish word around which the group has built its strategy is “konverteringsbolag”, which can be translated as “turning readers into customers”, that is, converting them from readers of articles to users of the advertised services which generate profit for the group and are not limited solely to procuring new advertising as could derive from the promotion of another one of the group’s newspapers.

The strategy that Barland describes is using the traffic generated by the editorial content to promote other digital services developed in-house by Schibsted. In an interview in 2010, cited in the paper, the CEO of Aftonbladet, Anna Settmann, explained this business strategy: “we have capitalized on our journalism which has built good volume in our online traffic. We utilize journalism as our engine. Journalism builds traffic which is pushing forward (other) new businesses”. In short, Aftonbladet and VG have become at the same time “both the advertiser and the owner of the promoted services”, writes Barland.

Online advertising takes over print ads:

Schibsted, an international group that operates in 29 countries, owns two of the top online newspapers  in Sweden and Norway, Aftonbladet and VG, with 5 million unique visitors a week and 1.5 million daily visitors respectively. Like other newspapers globally, both witnessed a drop in circulation of their print edition of around 60% over the last ten years. However, the two newspapers invested heavily in digital media (Aftonbladet has been online since 1994) and in 2012 they registered a profit of almost 15% of their revenue. Aftonbladet, in particular, has been experimenting for some time with pay and micro-pay models. Moreover, in 2012, for the first time ever the advertising revenues of the tabloid’s digital edition surpassed those of the print edition.

However, the turning point came way before in 2002 with the take-over of BytBil, an online advertising service for car sales, and of a similar portal Blocket the following year. Both portals were already very popular in the Swedish market and from that moment on they became an important driving force for Schibsted, easily justifying the premium the company paid for them. The profits of these services now stand at around 50% in terms of operating margin. In France the operating margin for the same service, called Leboncoin, is even greater (68%).

In 2012 the group’s online advertising services alone generated around 241 million of the group’s total revenue of 1.78 million Euro. Schibsted’s range of  digital services include other brands such as Dyrebar, devoted to house pets, Møteplassen, a dating service, for the broadcasting schedules of TV programmes and Jobb24, for job advertisements.

Barland writes that this strategy is proliferating and has already been adopted by other Scandinavian publishers such as the Norwegian group Amedia and the Swedish group Bonnier. The heart of Schibsted’s editorial choices, notes Barland, is the change in set up of online newspapers –managing appropriate resources which do not really belong to journalism. The idea is fascinating and, at least in the cases above, it seems to work. However, there are grey areas in the overly close relationship between the editorial and marketing offices, as in the case of sponsored content.  From this point of view the debate and research is still in its early stages.

This article was translated from the Italian “Un modello di business scandinavo per le news

Photo credit: Arjan Richter / Flickr CC

Journalistic Autonomy in Denmark. A Study

April 17, 2014 by · 3 Comments 

The idea of professional autonomy is a cornerstone of the journalistic profession and its limitations are considered detrimental to democracy. Sometimes, reporters find their professional independence constrained by their own news organizations, which have particular political or financial concerns.

A new study published in Journalism that looks at the subject of autonomy in the Danish media found that journalists in Denmark feel they have nearly complete freedom to make important choices concerning their work and the content they produce. Read more

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