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Gatewatching and News Curation

Journalism, Social Media, and the Public Sphere


Axel Bruns

Gatewatching and News Curation: Journalism, Social Media, and the Public Sphere documents an emerging news media environment that is characterised by an increasingly networked and social structure. In this environment, professional journalists and non-professional news users alike are increasingly cast in the role of gatewatcher and news curator, and sometimes accept these roles with considerable enthusiasm. A growing part of their everyday activities takes place within the spaces operated by the major social media providers, where platform features outside of their control affect how they can post, find, access, share, curate, and otherwise engage with news, rumours, analysis, comments, opinion, and related forms of information.

If in the current social media environment the majority of users are engaged in sharing news; if the networked structure of these platforms means that users observe and learn from each other’s sharing practices; if these practices result in the potential for widespread serendipitous news discovery; and if such news discovery is now overtaking search engines as the major driver of traffic to news sites—then gatewatching and news curation are no longer practiced only by citizen journalists, and it becomes important to fully understand the typical motivations, practices, and consequences of habitual news sharing through social media platforms.

Professional journalism and news media have yet to fully come to terms with these changes. The first wave of citizen media was normalised into professional journalistic practices—but this book argues that what we are observing in the present context instead is the normalisation of professional journalism into social media.

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Much of this book was researched and written in 2016 during a number of visits with colleagues in Europe, and in intensive writing sessions in airline lounges, on planes, and in hotel rooms. My sincere thanks go especially to the team at the Alexander-von-Humboldt-Institut für Internet und Gesellschaft in Berlin who hosted me as a visiting scholar during June and July—Christian Katzenbach, Karina Preiss, Wolfgang Schulz, Jeanette Hofmann, Larissa Wunderlich, and Cornelius Puschmann, thank you for your warm hospitality, and also for organising the best Association of Internet Researchers conference yet.

I also presented some of the ideas contained in this book in a number of guest lectures—many thanks to Luca Rossi and Gitte Stald of DECIDIS at IT University Copenhagen; Richard Rogers and the Digital Methods Initiative team at the University of Amsterdam; Jan Schmidt, Lisa Merten, and their colleagues at the Hans-Bredow-Institut in Hamburg; Gunn Enli, Eli Skogerbø, and Charles Ess at the University of Oslo; Anders Larsson at Westerdals School of Arts, Communication and Technology in Oslo; and Andra Siibak at the University of Tartu. Closer to home, I’d also like to express my sincere thanks to my colleagues at the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology, especially including Jean Burgess,←ix | x→ Patrik Wikström, Stuart Cunningham, Brenda Moon, Brian McNair, Folker Hanusch, Peta Mitchell, Tim Highfield, Aljosha Karim Schapals, Stephen Harrington, and Nic Suzor.

And as always, my most heartfelt gratitude and love goes to Ann McLean, who kept me sane through yet another major writing project, even at times when the task of wrangling this material into shape seemed insurmountable.

My research for this book was supported by the Australian Research Council Future Fellowship project Understanding Intermedia Information Flows in the Australian Online Public Sphere, Discovery project Journalism beyond the Crisis: Emerging Forms, Practices and Uses, and LIEF project TrISMA: Tracking Infrastructure for Social Media in Australia.←x | 1→