With the SAGE Handbook of Digital Journalism, the team of editors and contributors wanted to offer a comprehensive and systematic compilation of the diversity of sociological approaches that make this research field so fascinating. Chapters are not organized around the classical areas of attention of Journalism Studies (production, content, consumption), but rather based on the process that any scholar needs to go through when designing a new research project: Understanding the increasingly complex context of digital journalism (section 1), reviewing the existing empirical literature about news practices and the challenges that their dispersion and hybridity pose to researchers (section 2), exploring the conceptualizations that complementary theoretical frameworks have proposed to address these challenges (section 3) and choosing amongst the most innovative research methodologies, the one that is more suitable for the project (section 4). We hope that this structure will be inspiring for PhD candidates and senior researchers alike, as each section is structured to foster the dialogue between different perspectives. Further references between chapters are included in the text to render visible the connections across sections.

While we defend that Journalism Studies as a discipline will benefit from blurring the boundaries of its different sub-fields, it is nonetheless realistic to think that many
researchers will prefer to privilege one object of study over others as the center of their empirical work. Here are some alternative chapter reading lists focusing on specific practices or actors. Hopefully they will be useful entry points for you to and lead you to connect the Handbook as a whole with your own research interests. You can access a sample of the chapters in Google Books.

Professional journalism
5. The Business of News
6. The Fall of Public Journalists
13. Innovation in the Newsroom
14. Outsourcing Newswork
23. Journalism as Institution
24. Journalism as Field
30. Reconstructing Production Processes
31. Ethnography of Digital News Production

Normativity and social context
1. Digital Journalism and Democracy
2. Power and Digital Democracy
3. Digital News Media and Ethnic Minorities
4. Ethics of Digital Journalism
8. Emotion and Journalism
20. Normative Models of Digital Journalism

News uses and audience participation
12. The Ecology of Participation
15. Professionalizing the Informant
18. Photographic Witnesses
21. Mass, Audience & Public
22. Spaces of News Audiences
28. Journalism as Practice
33. Innovative Methods of News Audience Research
34. Qualitative Audience-Centred Journalism Research
35. Examining Interactive Features

News production beyond the newsroom
10. Networked Journalism
11. Hybrid News Practices
16. Sources as News Producers
17. Activists as News Producers
7. Networked Framing and Gatekeeping
19. Hyperlocal News
25. Liquid Journalism
26. Networks of Journalism
27. News Ecosystems
38. Multimethodological Approaches

Technology and journalism
9. The Technology of Digital Journalism
26. Networks of Journalism
29. Computation
32. Identifying Technical Actors in Journalism
36. Big Data Analysis
37. Sampling

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This is going to be an exciting Spring, with some big projects seeing the fruit of months of work. I am specially fond of the research project on audience participation management in online newspapers. We did interviews with news editors and community managers of 24 newsrooms in 10 countries in Europe, North America and Israel. The team included Jane Singer, Alfred Hermida, Ari Heinonen, Thorsten Quandt, Zvi Reich, Marina Vujnovic, and me.

In few weeks, the book summarizing the results of the study will be available: Participatory Journalism: Guarding Open Gates at Online Newspapers. Alfred Hermida presented some of the conclusions at the recent International Symposium on Online Journalism in Austin, Texas, and the reactions on Twitter show that the research is welcomed as much needed. Beyond the hype about audience participation and citizen journalism, we tried to assess how journalists perceive this trends and how they manage user-generated content in practical terms. We found that they try to resist empowering the audience, therefore keeping the gatekeeper role of the journalist and in many cases setting participation opportunities as separate playgrounds for the users, separate from news production.

We have also published several articles in scientific journals in the process of producing this study. Check them out!

Vujnovic, M.; Singer, J.; Paulussen, S; Heinonen, A.; Reich, Z.; Quandt, T.; Hermida, A.; Domingo, D.  (2010).  Exploring the political-economic factors of participatory journalism: a first look into self-reports by online journalists and editors in ten countries. Journalism Practice, 4(3),  285-296. [Abstract, PDF]

Domingo, D., Quandt, T., Heinonen, A., Paulussen, S., Singer, J., Vujnovic, M. (2008) Participatory journalism practices in the media and beyond: an international comparative study of initiatives in online newspapers. Journalism Practice, 2(3), 680-704. [Abstract, PDF]

Paulussen, S., Heinonen, A., Domingo, D. & Quandt, T. (2007). “Doing it together: Citizen participation in the professional news making process”. Observatorio (OBS*) Journal, 1(3):131-154. [PDF]

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Since the beginning of August and until the end of January 2011, I am in Finland, at the Journalism Research and Development Center of the University of Tampere, collaborating with good friends in an exciting international project, codename MediaAcT. We are researching media accountability and transparency practices in Europe, the US and the Arab World. The project is an endeavor of researchers from 14 universities and we intend to explore how the Internet can foster best practices in media accountability.

This is the first time that an international effort is undertaken to investigate and disseminate the practices that make journalists accountable for the quality of their work. We believe this can help strengthen and spread media accountability, as we will publish a directory of best practices, cases and experts, as well as develop recommendations and guidelines.

In the phase of the project I’m involved in we will conduct interviews with experts during October and November in half a dozen of countries. Prior to that, we are using an innovative approach to gather data about existing practices and media events that triggered innovations in media accountability and criticism. The technological platform we are using, Etherpad, is an open source collaborative document platform, much more robust than Google Docs (no wonder why Google hired the creators of Etherpad so that the project is now discontinued, though still available).

Our idea in using Etherpad is that several experts can put together much more fruitful and accurate data if they work on the same document than through separate surveys. One of the purposes of this project is building up a lively network of experts committed with the quality of journalism, and this collaborative documents are the first step. Please, let me know if you want to participate.

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Next Monday, November 23rd, I’ll be in Lisbon summarizing my research on innovation processes in online newsrooms (Pptx) at the International Conference titled “Broadband Media: Changing Times, Changing Media” organized by the online scholarly journal (OBS*).

There will be quite a lot of Catalan scholars presenting in the event considering our small academic community in Communication Studies: Roberto Suarez (Univ. Pompeu Fabra), David Fernández-Quijada (Univ. Autònoma de Barcelona) and myself.

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