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Sensemaking of emerging technologies in news work: Audience-centric engagement, collaboration culture and platform counterbalancing

Conference contribution
Authors Sherwin Chua
Oscar Westlund
Published in Paper accepted for presentation the 69th Annual International Communication Association (ICA) Conference, Washington DC, 2019
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Language en
Keywords audience engagement; collaboration; convergence; digital journalism; emerging technology; measurable journalism; sensemaking; social media platforms
Subject categories Human Aspects of ICT, Media and Communications, Media Studies


Using a sensemaking approach, this two-and-a-half-year longitudinal study examines how emerging technology has been appropriated and enacted in the salient case of news publishers. This article focuses on editorial analytics, automation, social media platforms, and mobile communication applications, and investigates how they influence the convergent news activities of newsworkers in two types of Singapore newsrooms: 1.) a digital-first legacy newspaper, and 2.) an independent digital-only news organization. The article uses the Infotendencias Group’s (2012) analytical framework and its four dimensions of news convergence: i). Business, ii). Technological, iii). Contents, and iv). Professional. Additionally, the article proposes a new fifth dimension: v). Audience-centric Engagement, based on the concept of “measurable journalism” (Carlson, 2018), analyzing how its actors influence the relationship between newsrooms and their audiences. The article builds on two rounds of in-depth interviews. The first round, conducted from end-2015 to mid-2016, involved 13 newsworkers. In 2018, four newsworkers from the first round were interviewed again. This essay leads to three main conclusions: 1.) the growing significance of audience-centric engagement, 2.) an emergence of a collaboration culture, and 3.) the salience of platform counterbalancing. Importantly, audience-centric engagement practices are observed in all four dimensions of convergent news activities of each news organization.

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