Journalism Practice has just published the first article with empirical data of the international research group on participatory journalism I am participating since April 2007, informally called the “Tampere group” as it was founded in this Finnish city.

The article summarizes the results of a structural analysis of the features that 16 online newspapers offer for audience participation. It also sets up a theoretical framework to interpret the trend of participatory journalism, which we think can be applied to bigger samples. We have split the analysis of participation features into five production stages (access, selection, processing, distribution, interpretation) and found that each news website has different levels of openness in each of these stages.

The bottom line is that, overall, online newspapers are eager to open interpretation to the audience, as this is coherent with their definition of the audience as audience. Access, distribution and even processing are open to a lesser extent, but selection is completely closed to participation, as this is the core of the journalistic profession.

The issue of Journalism Practice compiles, along with a twin issue of Journalism Studies, work presented in the conference the Future of Newspapers, held in Cardiff on September 2007. There are other relevant articles about participatory journalism in the UK (by Alfred Hermida and Neil Thurman) and in Sweden (by Henrik Örnebring,  and also about citizen journalists’ routines in Israel (by Zvi Reich). Our article was updated in December for the journal.

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