Participatory Journalism: Guarding Open Gates at Online Newspapers offers fascinating insights into how journalists in Western democracies are thinking about, and dealing with, the inclusion of content produced and published by the public.

Recent years have seen a dramatic change in the relationship between online media and the ‘audience’, and user–generated content is a common feature of news websites. Control over the contents of the media space, once held by traditional news outlets, today is shared by bloggers and other social media participants.

Such an environment requires a significant conceptual and practical shift for journalists, who face a rapid and radical decline in their power to oversee the flow of information. The ability to productively incorporate user contributions within traditional media spaces is becoming a vital skill.

This book is based on a collaborative research project by a team of journalism scholars from Europe, North America and Israel.

Read the first chapter (PDF)

Participatory Journalism goes right to the heart of what journalists do, what journalism is, and what role both traditional and new information providers play in a contemporary democratic society that has gone digital.

Published by Wiley-Blackwell, the book is available from April 15 in the UK and May 2 in the US.


1. Introduction: Sharing the Road.

Section One: The Impact of Participatory Journalism.

2. Mechanisms of Participation: How Audience Options Shape the Conversation (Alfred Hermida).
3. The Journalist’s Relationship with Users: New Dimensions to Conventional Roles (Ari Heinonen).

Section Two: Managing Change.

4. Inside the Newsroom: Journalists’ Motivations and Organizational Structures (Steve Paulussen).
5. Managing Audience Participation: Practices, Workflows and Strategies (David Domingo).
6. User Comments: The Transformation of Participatory Space (Zvi Reich).

Section Three: Issues and Implications.

7. Taking Responsibility: Legal and Ethical Issues in Participatory Journalism (Jane B. Singer).
8. Participatory Journalism in the Marketplace: Economic Motivations behind the Practices (Marina Vujnovic).
9. Understanding a New Phenomenon: The Significance of Participatory Journalism (Thorsten Quandt).
10. Fluid Spaces, Fluid Journalism: The Role of the “Active Recipient” in Participatory Journalism (Alfred Hermida).

Appendix: About our Study.
About the Authors.


This book is based on a collaborative research project by a team of journalism scholars from Europe, North America and Israel.

Jane B. Singer

Jane B. Singer is an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa, USA, and a visiting professor in the School of Journalism, Media and Communication at the University of Central Lancashire, UK. From 2007 to 2010, she was the Johnston Press Chair in Digital Journalism at Central Lancashire. Her research explores digital journalism, including changing roles, perceptions, norms and practices. Before earning a Ph.D. in journalism from the University of Missouri, Singer was the first news manager of Prodigy Interactive Services. She also has worked as a newspaper reporter and editor.

Alfred Hermida

Alfred Hermida is a digital media scholar, journalism educator and online news pioneer. Since 2006, he has been an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of British Columbia, Canada. Hermida was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan in 2005 and an IBM CAS Canada Research Faculty Fellow in 2010. An award-winning journalist who served for four years as a Middle East correspondent, Hermida is a 16-year veteran of the BBC and was a founding news editor of the BBC News website in 1997. He has also written for The Wall Street Journal, The Times of London, The Guardian and NPR.

David Domingo

David Domingo is a senior lecturer in online journalism at the Department of Communication Studies of Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona, Spain. Domingo, who has a Ph.D. in Journalism from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, was a doctoral fellow at the University of Tampere (2004) and visiting assistant professor at the University of Iowa (2007-2008). His research interests include online journalists’ professional ideology and work routines, as well as the dynamics of innovations such as participatory journalism and convergence. He is co-editor, with Chris Paterson, of Making Online News: The Ethnography of New Media Production (Peter Lang, 2008).

Ari Heinonen

Ari Heinonen, Ph.D., is journalism teacher and researcher in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Tampere, Finland. A former newspaper journalist, he has focused his academic research on explorations of the changing nature of professionalism in journalism, concepts of journalism in the new media era and journalistic ethics. He has directed and participated in a number of national and international research and development projects in these areas.

Steve Paulussen

Steve Paulussen, Ph.D., is a part-time lecturer in journalism studies at both the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the University of Antwerp, as well as a senior researcher at the IBBT research group for Media & ICT (MICT) at Ghent University, Belgium. In recent years, he has participated in a number of projects on different aspects of today’s digital media culture. His main research interests lie in the field of journalism studies, where he has published on developments in online journalism, newsroom convergence and the sociological profile of professional journalists. Between 2006 and 2010, he also was involved in a multi-disciplinary strategic research project on digital news trends in Flanders, Belgium (FLEET).

Thorsten Quandt

Thorsten Quandt, Dr. phil. habil, is a professor in Communication Studies / Interactive Media and Online Communication at the University of Hohenheim, Germany. He has served as chair of the Journalism Studies Division in the German Communication Association (DGPuK) and as an officer in the Journalism Studies Division in the International Communication Association (ICA). His widely published research includes studies on online journalism, media evolution, network communication and computer games.

Zvi Reich

Zvi Reich, Ph.D., is a former journalist and a researcher in journalism studies at the Department of Communication, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. His book, Sourcing the News, was published by Hampton Press in 2009. Reich’s research interests focus on online news, sociology of news, the relations between reporters and sources, authorship in journalism and the use of communication technologies in journalism. Two of his papers have won the top three papers prize of the Journalism Studies Division at ICA. Other research has appeared in Journalism Studies, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly and Journalism. He is a member of the editorial board of Journalism Practice.

Marina Vujnovic

Marina Vujnovic, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at Monmouth University, USA. Her primary fields of research are participatory journalism and new media studies, media history and gender, critical political economy, and cultural studies. Additional research interests include international communication and the global flow of information, as well as ethnicity and the media. She is the author of Forging the Bubikopf Nation: Journalism, Gender and Modernity in Interwar Yugoslavia (Peter Lang, 2009).


Praise for Participatory Journalism: Guarding Open Gates at Online Newspapers

“The discipline of journalism studies is in dire need of approaches that move beyond zombie categories such as online/offline, hard/soft news, professional/citizen journalism. By investigating an emerging set of participatory practices in a truly cross-national context, the authors of this book show both theoretically and practically how the production of news is changing around the world.”
Mark Deuze, Indiana University; author of Media Work and editor of Managing Media Work

“A critical read for scholars and journalism practitioners alike interested in the one of the most significant changes sweeping the journalistic landscape in a Web 2.0 world: the shift from one-to-many mass media to two-way communication.”
Carrie Brown, assistant professor at the University of Memphis, Journalism,  13(3) 388–394, April 2012.

“The breadth and scope of the collaborative project is an extremely valuable one which unpicks the threads that lie at the heart of journalism and examines how those core threads are being rewoven in a digital age, where anyone with Internet access can be a publisher.”
Lily Cantor, University of Sheffield, UK,  Journalism Studies, 24 Feb 2012

“Participatory Journalism is hugely helpful for courses I teach. Also good reminder of how ingrained, slow to change j-culture is.”
Mark Hamilton, journalism instructor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Richmond, BC, Canada, via Twitter.


Participatory Journalism: Guarding Open Gates at Online Newspapers can be ordered at: