Journalism in times of cost-cutting and Web 2.0 a study on the impact of marketing and digitization on sourcing practices and editorial content

Sarah Van Leuven , Karin Raeymaeckers ,
62st annual ICA conference


In order to assess the impact of commercialisation and digitization on journalists’ sourcing practices, we set up a content analysis of the secondary sources and information actors in the news output of four Flemish newspapers over a period of 10 years (2000-2010). From a longitudinal methodological perspective we match our results with reflexions on the expanding or shrinking mediated public sphere. The analysis shows little to no shifts through time. Mainstream sources dominate the news but citizens are also an important part of it. As far as we can observe, Flemish journalists modestly refer to pre-packaged sources. The opportunities for a more diverse source use offered by Web 2.0 applications have not yet penetrated in their newsrooms. The findings indicate that often heard concerns about cost-cutting in newsrooms or sanguinity about the democratic potential of Web 2.0 seem fairly exaggerated, at least in the Flemish context.