One of the most interesting part of a research project like this is getting to put the things that our participants say in bigger contexts! This section is for everyone that wants to have an overview of the texts that we have been reading. We use these texts to analyze what the teenagers discussed in our conversations with them. Feel free to read on, or go directly to “What we Found” to see our results! The big question we want to ask is: how do youth reflect on their own interaction with news-related content and how does this connect to news value? Or more specifically
What is seen as news today by youth?
What are youth motivators for engaging with content?
How do youth negotiate trust in the current media landscape?
News- why does it matter?
Everything on the news does not matter as much. The most important news is news that has a high news value. So, what makes news matter? Can stories that don’t come from journalists also have news value? When do we define something as news? In the introduction to the latest Journalism studies journal, researcher duo Temmerman and Mast explain news as something that is created through news-value. According to them, the digital space has allowed more actors to participate in the news cycle. News value is seen as something that can be applied to all real stories. 1 Through this, we can understand news value as being not only in the hands of journalists in news rooms but in the hands of any creator on social media. To really understand how we all can understand news value we need to go one step further. News value can be seen as being created through how we interpret it, which happens in either the mind of the public, who understand specific stories as news, or is defined by the mind of the journalist who gets too dictate what is worthy of being considered news. It can also be seen to be created by what is is, either through the nature of the events that the story is about, or through the values that are communicated in the stories. These four ways of looking at created news value are defined by Helen Caple and Monika Bednarek in a 2017 book “The Discourse of News Values: How News Organizations Create Newsworthiness”. 2
What has really changed with digitalism?
In newsrooms, it is very important to have digital skills, but a lot of the way journalists work is not informed much by the digital world. For the perspective of the journalists working in the business, we lean on Ferruci & Perrault and Marques-Hayasakis and colleagues interviews with journalists working towards a digital space. Their results can be summed up like this: understanding social media and digital norms is essential when working in a newsroom 3 but a lot of journalistic values and ways of working greatly affect how articles and other journalistic products are made, making the differences between journalism online and offline small. 4
So, even if journalists do not need to completely redefine their deepest values, the audience still has more changing to do. The audience can be seen both producers and users of online content. 5 However, this is not always the case, as it is also not unusual for news users to passively consume news on social media.6
Why do we trust journalists more then other creators?
So, if journalists don’t need to adjust too much in any deeper sense to do their job, what are then the roles of journalists in todays society? In an article written in the journal for Brazilian journalism research, the authors explain that it is their view that the many actors in the digital space with the capabilities to produce news-worthy content actually creates a need for the expertise and critical capability associated with journalists. 7 (3) So what makes good and trustworthy journalistic content and how does the journalistic profession conform to the news media landscape of today? We find four definitions for journalistic roles in the 2020 article “Role Orientations: Journalists views on their place in society”. They describe a more traditional role, which they call the monitorial role. Journalists that fill this role will have power over distribution, create opinion and be responsible for educating and empowering citizens. The second role the authors describe is the collaborative, meaning collaboration with political movements by inciting action. The third is the interventionist, where someone will fill both the role of informant and actively participating in political process. Finally, the accommodative role is described as informing roles that offer what they perceive the audience needs, usually to reach as many as possible with non-controversial information like life advice. 8 We get a view of how these roles play out among online influencers in an interview study from 2021, where youtubers are asked to reflect on their own place in the digital space. The study finds that they do often take a more traditional, monitorial approach to news production, but their accounts are targeted towards young people and audience interaction. Another interesting find is that most of these youtubers do not see themselves as informants or an initial source of news, but rather as content creators who can provide context and their own opinion on a story. 9 (7)
Youth and news use
Sometimes, youth are seen as less engaged. 10 (6) Swedish researcher Malin Sveningson is a Swedish researcher that chooses not to make the assumption that action always happens offline, and has interviewed youth on many topics, among them news use. The youth she interviews for her article regard news seen on social media as less trustworthy than traditional news, but have a positive outlook on news on social media in general. They see it as making possible fast distribution of news, and find personal stories more interesting. The criticism they have for the medium is based on critically being able to assess their sources for the most part, but also translates to traditional media presence on social media being seen as less “serious”. 11 (8) Youth do however, get almost half of their news through social media according to a report by Swedish organisation Internetstiftelsen “Swedes and the Internet” 12 (9) looking at the habits of Swedish youth. So how are they interacting with this news on social media? What most young people do, is maybe make sure they follow some news outlets or get notifications from news apps, but after that it is the most common to be pretty passive and just look at news when it pops up in your phone. This is called a news-finds me approach by the researcher Joelle Swarts. 13 (10) To Swedish researcher Jesper Strömbäck there is a divide between news users today, where you’re either passively or actively engaged. He has done research on Swedish news users before elections, and found that there is an increasing divide between these two types of users. He sees this divide as one of the biggest threats towards our democracy today. 14 (11)