The internet has had a fraught relationship with news. Whilst initially posing as an opportunity for reinvention in the 1990s, in the 2000s and beyond it forebode but also became a symbol of its apparent decline. Advertising left newspapers for search engines and later social media, but news gradually reinstated some control over its distribution with paywalls. Epistemologically, first the blogosphere challenged news through crowdsourced fact-checking, followed by Facebook as a platform where so-called fake news outperformed mainstream stories. Newspapers in particular have tried to use the new media spaces, from the web and the blogosphere to social media, as opportunities for innovative publishing and for feedback from readers. Some news is also increasingly tailored or personalised for its consumers. News as a product is one that is not just personalised but also fresh or continually refreshed so that it remains at the top of alerts and engine returns. The questions often asked these days concern the extent to which news is a product of the media platforms in terms of the kinds of stories that do well there, earning high engagement scores. (Richard Rogers, 22.4.2019: “News as product”).
From the beginning of journalism, news has been considered a commodity to be shared and exchanged in a transnational market, adopting several forms according to the use of technologies. In the industrial society, the most widespread use to put such a commodity in the market has been and is the collective work, just to employ a legal category which is, in our opinion, central for our research. News, at the same time, has been an advertisement support to reach massive audiences. When the World Wide Web appeared, in the decade of 1990, in a post-industrial society, this media suffered a deep crisis and entered a constant mutation. As it happened to some other cultural industries, such as the musical record industry, research studies (see, i.e., Boczkowski and Anderdon, 2017; Boczkowski and Mitchelstein, 2013; Meikle and Redden, 2011) reveal how clearly the consumption of news is not preferentially based on the offer of the collective works produced by media industry, but on news items themselves as unities (Díaz Noci, 2018).
Several strategies, like cross/multi/transmedia (see Serrano Tellería, 2016, 2017a, b, and c, 2019), or the publication of user-generated contents (see, i.e., Díaz Noci, 2015), sometimes derivative works (another central legal concept, in our opinion) tend to present those news items as flexible, modular, hyperlinked, cross/multi/transmedia and interactive products. They are/were produced, modified, derived and disseminated by many agents, including active audiences and informative sources themselves as well; as we ourselves have studied in previous research project of what this is a natural continuation, previously needed of the intermediation provided by media which is now supplied by digital platforms.
Our proposal is based on the crisis, for better or worse, of the concept of news as a commodity, and of the industry which until this point has been in charge of its compilation, elaboration and dissemination: the mass-media industry, now known as legacy media. It is our purpose to analyse how the so-called Hybrid Media System has appeared (Chadwick, 2017), and which is the place within it for those legacy media, in a moment of more than occasional crisis for that industry and for its production system, including the crisis of journalism (and of journalist as an organized profession) as well (Shoemaker and Reese, 2014) .
Through the prism of the transformation of news we intend to explain which is its life-cycle in the digital environment (the very concept of scoop is being compromised by the speed and accuracy of digital media) and, more properly, in the Hybrid Media System, following, for instance, some public issues. We intend to explain how media industry behaves in this Hybrid Media System and which are the attitudes and strategies in Spain. Issues such the lobbying activity of that industry in favour of their interests (for instance, the active and finally successful campaign to achieve a so-called press publishers' right, art. 11 of the Directive of Copyright in the Digital Single Market, approved by the European Parliament in September 12, 2018), the treatment of their own crisis published in their own media, the implementation of paywalls, the testing of new business models will be monitored and examined, alongside with interviews with people from those media to examine their attitudes and opinions.
All this, to explain which are the reactions: resilience and adaptation movements of the Spanish media system in a changing landscape in which a whole business model and a profession, journalism as we know/knew it, that have been essential in the construction of Western societies during the latest four centuries, is mutating.
This general previous contextualization is part of the overall national project “News, Networks and Users in the Hybrid Media System (Newsnet). Transformation of News and Media Industry in the Post-Industrial Era”, coordinated as principal investigators by Associate Professor Ana Serrano Telleríaand Full Professor Javier Díaz Noci of the Spanish R+D+I calling ‘Challenges of Society’, subproject title: Reference: RTI2018-095775-B-C43. Three years: April 2019-April 2022. Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities.
As for the Digital Methods Summer School 2019, we concretized this overall project into the one week “news as product” - "news life cycle" one where we embraced (give thanks for) Richard Rogers’ suggestions. In this sense, our collaboration for this project has proved to be enriching, fruitful and successful at all levels.
Research related to social media platforms will concentrate mainly on Instagram, Twitter and Google (out of Spain, where Google News does not exist). Telegram may be considered as well.
We experienced some constraints to obtain the shots, mainly with Instagram and Telegram, also with Twitter. Main problem was that, on the one hand, Instagram “protected” images, on the other, images were absent.
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