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Javnost - The Public, Vol. 18 - 2011, No. 2

Edited Participation: Comparing Editorial Influence On Traditional and Participatory Online Newspapers In Sweden

, , pages: 19-36

Although participatory journalism involves publishing content created by users, editorial influence is an important aspect of participatory online media. Editors shape the conditions under which user generated content is produced, the context of publication and the perceived prominence of the content. It is still unclear how this influence manifests itself, and how it can be related to the discussion about participatory media’s potential for revitalising democracy. In this paper, three online news media in Sweden are analysed comparatively: Sourze – the first Swedish participatory newspaper; Newsmill – a social media focusing on news and debate; and DN – the online version of the largest Swedish morning paper Dagens Nyheter. The question is how participation is affected by editorial influence. The findings suggest that participatory arenas are constrained by the logic of their context of production. People from different categories in society participate on different terms. Furthermore, editors influence the agenda by suggesting topics, and by rewarding articles that follow their suggestions. These fi ndings do not challenge assumptions about participatory newspapers as more accessible channels for citizens and therefore interesting as possible means of allowing a more democratically involved citizenry, but it challenges assumptions about freedom from constraints related to traditional mass media, such as agenda setting, gate-keeping and media logic.

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