After doing the first bit of research and reading up on news media practices, we needed to figure out a suitable way to proceed with our own research. We chose to use an ethnographic method, which we executed through interviews and asking our participants to keep diaries. If you are not familiar with ethnographic studies it could be shortly described as:
“the study and systematic recording of human cultures”
To Jesper Ekström in his guide Methods in Media and Communication research (2019), ethnography is defined as the field that seeks to understand the relationship between humans and the society they inhabit. This can mean analyzing specific cultures, like digital activist culture for example, and what the relationship is between those who interact and the space they interact with.
Why did we choose this method?
- In our research there is a certain focus on the content that the teenagers consume, and not just their own evaluations of the digital space. This means that our goal aligns with the ethnographic goal of participating in a space, as a researcher.
- Our main question is letting the youth decide what they see as meaningful acts through the diaries and interviews. We find this ethnographic approach fitted to our questions because we see it as a goal to gain an open understanding of how youth consume news through both on and offline spaces.
- For us, our focus is on casual news users, specifically youth, and their relationship to the current news media landscape.
Qualitative, not quantitative!
The study consisted of two interviews over Zoom, where the first interview aimed at answering the question of where youth find information. In the first interview we also let the youth discuss different modes of media consumption seen among their peers and evaluate which sources they thought were the most and the least productive. They also got to discuss their perceptions of their own consumption, what their consumption looked like day to day and how they evaluated their sources. After the first interview we asked the participants to keep a diary of their interactions with the content they would find for the next two weeks.
For the timeframe of the study, we chose two weeks for diary keeping. We chose not to put restrictions in the diaries for specific platforms. In the diaries the teens were asked to log anything they saw during the two weeks, on any platform, that piqued their interest. This could be entertainment, news-related content, activist content or otherwise. We let the youth decide for themselves what this would mean, as long as it had a societal relevance to them.
After the completion of the two weeks we conducted a second interview, discussing topics that came up in the diaries. Here we wanted to know more specifically how they reasoned when it came to things they actually consumed and discuss the channels through which they communicated.