The printed rise of the common man how Web 2.0 has changed the representation of ordinary people in newspapers

Jeroen De Keyser , Karin Raeymaeckers ,
The future of journalism conference


Journalists have traditionally focused on a small range of elite sources. Far less attention went to common people, resulting in little visibility in the news output. Bottom-up Web 2.0 technologies have given common people new communication tools, though, allowing them to disperse news or other kinds of information without the need for traditional media as intermediaries. This has made traditional news media aware of a public desire for bottom-up participation in the news production process. Accordingly, some news media have started to offer their own participation features. Bearing this context in mind, we address the question whether Web 2.0 has helped increase the visibility and importance of the common people in the daily news output. Via a content analysis of five Flemish newspapers the current representation of ordinary citizens is compared to that one decade ago, before the appearance Web 2.0. The analysis shows that citizens appear more prominently in the news nowadays.