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Eyewitness Textures: User Generated Content & News Coverage in the 21st Century

03.10.2019 12:43 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Deadline: October 15, 2019

Among the many changes introduced by new media technologies to news practices, the growing utilization of User Generated Content (UGC) is one of the most challenging. Members of the public are capturing dramatic events around the world and then sharing them, not only on social media platforms, but with professional news media organizations which are eagerly incorporating posts, tweets and images into professionally produced news stories. The presence of amateur content in news discourses is a growing phenomenon that is reshaping the profession of journalism, news coverage and public expectations.

The issues raised by these practices often involve tensions between labour precarity and professionalism, entertainment and evidence, centralized and decentralized management of news rooms, traditional and emerging forms of social media news narratives, truth and immediacy. We are calling for papers from academic researchers and journalists that address this important and timely subject. Questions the collection will address include:

1. How is the use of UGC reorganizing professional practices?

  • User generated content and professionalism in news rooms
  • Role and significance of verification in news production
  • The problems of fake news when working with UGC
  • The growing shift of UGC onto private networks: threats and opportunities
  • The challenge and opportunities of new technologies for professional news rooms

2. How is UGC transforming labour practices among journalists and the structural organization of news media?

  • Changing labour practices in the newsroom
  • Changing structures, staffing and organization of news desks
  • Organizational changes and emerging business models
  • Emerging forms of produsers and precarious labour
  • Professional labour vis-à-vis labour of love

3. How is UGC influencing the construction of meaning in news coverage?

  • The impact of user produced content on the form and aesthetic of visual news
  • Role of contextualization in UGC verification services
  • The influence of non-professional producers on news narratives, framing and agendas

4. What are emerging themes and tensions in non-professional practices of production?

  • Emerging motivations for creating UGC news content
  • Emerging practices and conventions for UGC production
  • Precarity and risk in UGC production

5. What are the theoretical, methodological and historical considerations helping to understand and explain the growing use of UGC in professional news coverage?

Deadline: Abstracts (300-500 words) should be emailed to the editors by

Oct 15, 2019 clearly identified by “UGC Chapter Abstract” in the subject line. Email:

Please contact the editors (at the same email address) if you have any questions.

About the Editors:

Dr. Michael Lithgow is an Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies, in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Athabasca University. His research focuses broadly on citizen engagement in public cultures. His most current research explores expanded approaches to community digital & network literacies encompassing design, creation and operation of telecommunications infrastructure. He is part of a research group investigating changing practices in professional news rooms in response to the growing use of user-generated content (UGC) in news production.

Prof. Michele Martin

Dr Michèle Martin is Professor Emerita at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. Her research focuses on the history of illustrated news, feminist studies, and sociology of labour in the media. She has published several books - among them Hello Central? (nominated for the Harold Innis Prize), which has been translated into several languages, Communication and Mass Media and Images at War (attributed the Canadian Communication Association prize) - and numerous articles and book chapters. She is currently part of a research group investigating changing practices in professional news rooms in response to the growing use of user-generated content in news production. She has also been invited as a visiting professor at Oxford University, The London School of Economics and Political Sciences, Université Panthéon-Assas Paris, American University in Istanbul among others. 



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