Framing citizen journalism in mainstream news coverage: a quantitative and qualitative analysis (1999-2012)

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Framing citizen journalism in mainstream news coverage: a quantitative and qualitative analysis (1999-2012)

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Due to the public's participation in the journalistic production process a variety of tensions likely exist between established journalism and citizen journalism. Like any occupation with professional objectives, professional journalists continually shield and protect their territory from potential competitors and legacy media try to fortify the privilege and special position of professional journalism. The main goal of this study is to investigate how mainstream journalism responds to the growth of citizen journalism, its participants and the power of citizen journalists' contribution on news content.Reviewing professionalism and framing theory as the theoretical foundations, this dissertation specifically addressed the following objectives in the context of citizen journalism: (1) examine major news frames, topics, and tones; (2) explore representation of citizen news participants and citizen journalism with regard to role and values of professional journalism; (3) identify whether citizen journalism is undermined or professional journalism is legitimized in media coverage. 308 news articles from eight major U.S. newspapers for past fourteen years were analyzed through a mixed-method approach combining quantitative and qualitative analysis. As a result of the content analysis, it appears that professional journalists approved of the positive value of citizen journalism in society and journalism field, and recognized the synergy between traditional journalists and citizen news participants. Mainstream news articles have represented citizen journalism as a valuable phenomenon and a comparatively new phenomenon. The data clearly unveiled that mainstream news coverage included discussions of citizen journalism from a variety of topical perspectives. However, the qualitative textual analysis revealed that mainstream news articles routinely placed citizen journalism and citizen journalists outside the boundaries of professional journalism. Regardless of how citizen news participants were identified, professional journalists distinguished themselves from citizen journalists, effectively helping mainstream reporters to reinforce and legitimize their professional status in society. In addition, by emphasizing harmful outcomes and dangerous side effects of citizen journalism, professional journalists found ways to justify why citizen journalism remains inferior to professional journalism and why professional journalism is still significant in society. Even in news articles with positive tonality, journalists attempted to legitimate their status while downplaying the status of citizen journalism.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2014. Major: Mass Communication. Advisor: Dr. Catherine R. Squires. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 214 pages, appendices A-F.

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Hong, Ye Jin. (2014). Framing citizen journalism in mainstream news coverage: a quantitative and qualitative analysis (1999-2012). Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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