Papers from the Meaning Across Media project

Transforming Audiences, Transforming Societies - The New Media Environment in Europe

Professor, Klaus Bruhn Jensen, Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, University of Copenhagen

While contemporary media constitute an increasingly global environment of communication, audiences remain geographically and culturally situated. Building on the EU COST Action ‘Transforming audiences – transforming societies’ (2010-2014), this paper presents empirical findings and methodological implications from a nine-country comparative study of media use in Europe. A central aim of the study was to address not just ‘new’ digital and social media, but also ‘old’ mass media as part of a complex and changing configuration of technologies, institutions, and users. Compared to Lasswell’s (1948) classic paradigm of who says what, in which channel, to whom, and with what effects, the study asked: Who communicates with whom, across what media, in which flows and networks? (Jensen & Helles, 2011). The research design employed national online panels whose members responded to questions regarding access to, use of, and time spent on different media and technological platforms. The findings identified a typology of six segments of media users that are distinguished, not least, by the variable diffusion of smartphones, and of advanced mobile phone features, into users’ everyday lives. Whereas ‘everybody’ uses the mobile core functions of voice and text messaging, just as ‘everybody’ goes online for information and still watches traditional broadcast television, only certain segments watch online broadcasts or use the mobile as a personal assistant, calendar, or camera. In conclusion, the paper outlines potentials for further comparative and cross-continental research involving Europe, the US, and China.

Engaging With the News Across Media

Ph.D.-Fellow, Jacob Ørmen, Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, University of Copenhagen

The opportunities to get news from various media have increased during the past decades - both due to economic developments in the media markets (e.g. the increase in commercial broadcasters) and technological innovations (e.g. the advent of smartphones and tablets). This gives news users the ability to engage with as much news content as they want as well as when and where they want to. At the same time, previous studies have shown (most notably by Prior, 2007; Stromback, Djerf-Pierre, & Shehata, 2012) that this development also can lead to an increase in the number of people who utilize this supply of alternative media options to skip news altogether.
Critical engagement with news – particular public affairs and politics - is often portrayed as both a requirement for a well-functioning democracy (Walsh, 2004) and as a source of increased civic participation (Norris, 2012). Therefore, it is of continuing relevance to study how and if people attend to and engage with news. To do this I present a typology of news users based on an exploratory cluster analysis of a survey of the adult Danish population. The findings from the survey will be supplemented by results from a series of qualitative interviews that shed light on the motivations users have for engaging with the news through various media platforms and the reasons non-users provide for skipping news."

Mundane Citizenship in Social Media Among Vulnerable Citizens Caught up in the Danish Municipal System 

Postdoc, Troels Fibæk Bertel, Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, University of Copenhagen

This presentation reports preliminary findings from an empirical study that examines how individuals who suffer from chronic conditions (e.g. chronic pain) and who have become caught up in the Danish municipal system use media—particularly groups on Facebook—to enact mundane citizenship (Bakardjieva 2012). Such groups provide a closed forum where these vulnerable citizens—who are doubly challenged by their condition and their interactions with the system—can provide social support to others with a similar life situation, exchange lay-expert legal advice as well as mobilize protests against the municipal system or simply vent. Part of the enactment of mundane citizenship in this context is the collection and exchange of information and (news) stories that are relevant to the unique situation and perspective of the users from a range of different media sources. The presentation discusses the uses and functions of communication in such groups as well as the potentials and challenges associated with this form of civic participation among this specific group of users.

Conflictual Media Events, Eyewitness Images, and the Boston Marathon Bombing (2013)

Associate Professor, Mette Mortensen, Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, University of Copenhagen

The proliferation of camera phones over the past decade has created an unprecedented landslide of visual information in the online public sphere, transforming the form and amount of communication in relation to crisis events. International research on this subject has primarily centered on the way in which the production and dissemination of eyewitness images convert mainstream media’s coverage of crisis (e.g., Andén-Papadopoulos and Pantti 2011, 2013, Mortensen 2011, 2014, 2015, Allan 2013, 2014a, 2014b, Kristensen and Mortensen 2013, 2014, Pantti 2013). This paper broadens the perspective by focusing on eyewitness images in relation to ‘conflictual media events’. The paper contributes to discussions on the definition of conflictual media events (Hepp and Couldry 2010) in today’s cross media and connective media environment, which has undergone radical changes from the era of mass media hegemony when Daniel Dayan and Elihu Katz (1992) first outlined media events. The paper further examines the ways in which the cross media circulation of eyewitness images erodes established boundaries between experts and laymen and between professionals and non-professionals in relation to conflictual media events. The bombing of the Boston Marathon in April 2013 constitutes the empirical point of departure.

Exercising With the Smartphone: A Cross-Media Perspective

Associate Professor, Stine Lomborg, Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, University of Copenhagen

In this paper I present a cross-media analysis of the self-tracking practices in the context of exercise. The presentation draws on two complementary sets of empirical data collected from a purposive sample of twelve Danes, who track their exercise with their smartphones: a full registration of the activities logged on their preferred applications for a one-month period followed by a semi-structured qualitative interview with each participant about their exercising histories and habits, use of the tracking applications before, during and after training, and the broader web of everyday activities in which self-tracking is embedded. I explore the multiple forms of cross-media use manifested in the empirical context of exercising with the smartphone. Based on the empirical analysis, I discuss how self-tracking may inform theories of cross-media use and intermediality.

The Danish Twitter News Sphere

Head of Research for Social Media, Jakob Linaa Jensen, Danish School of Media and Journalism

Although the breakthrough of citizen journalism still remains to come true, citizens play an increasing role in the news cycle by sharing, distributing, curating, commenting and even modifying news they get from elsewhere. This particularly takes place through social network sites Twitter and Facebook, which have become meta-media for not only personal contacts but also wider societal agenda setting. This paper discusses how Danish news is disseminated through the social network Twitter. It is a first attempt to establish and analyze a Danish Twitter News Sphere, inspired by similar initiatives in for instance Australia. The analyses are based on all tweets mentioning 25 Danish media Twitter accounts from December 2014 to February 2015. Descriptive analyses as well as network analyses are applied in order to identify major contributors, gatekeepers and opinion leaders in the Danish news landscape online. The paper also aims at identifying various types of roles in the social media landscape of news.

Smart Phones and the Micro-Routines of Everyday Life 

Assistant Professor, Anne Mette Thorhauge, Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, University of Copenhagen

Smart phones represent a key platform in terms of cross media communication. As technological artefacts smart phones are networked, mobile and afford the reception, distribution and production of a wide array of multimodal content. As social artefacts smart phones are widespread, highly personalised and often ever present companions to their owner. For this reason understanding smart phone use patterns is a key to understanding how (cross)media communication is practiced in everyday life contexts. This qualitative study takes a close look at the way smart phones are integrated into the everyday routines of a diverse group of users. Its aims at identifying and describing specific use patterns and how they frame cross media in everyday contexts. Key themes in the analysis will be the push-pull balance of information flows and the interplay between notifications and micro-routines. 

Conditioning the User: Digitized Cultural Heritage, Cross-Media Communication and Participation

Associate Professor, Bjarki Valtýsson, Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen

This paper inspects how the online portal ‘Danish Cultural Heritage’ conditions the participative potentials of users and how users react to this specific way of shaping user-manoeuvrability. The Danish Cultural Heritage project is a portal that digitizes and combines large amounts of material from the archives of 15 Danish cultural institutions and is hosted by the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR). This material is made available to the general public with various access points, including smartphones and tablets. Furthermore, communication and interaction with the archive is encouraged through different social media services. Based on qualitative interviews (Creswell, 2009; Gaskell, 2000) and focus groups (Stewards & Shamdasani, 2000; Bloor, et. al. (2008) (containing in all 47 respondents), this paper argues that even though much of the material that is made available through the portal invokes curiosity and nostalgia, users heavily connoted understanding of the term ‘cultural heritage’, and the limited user manoeuvres the portal allows for hinder users to envisage it becoming an active part in their everyday media consumption. Theoretically, the paper will make use of contemporary literature on both the emancipative and critical sides of participatory cultures, convergence and cross-media communication (Jenkins, 2006; Bruns, 2008; Gauntlett, 2011; Castells, 2009; Fuchs, 2010, 2014; Terranova, 2013; Madianou & Miller 2013; Dean, 2005) and literature on the mundane and everyday use of media (Silverstone & Hirsch, 1992; Bakardjieva, 2012; Berker, et al, 2006; Haddon, 2011).

Challenging ’Smart’ in Smart City Strategies

Associate Professor, Kjetil Sandvik, Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, University of Copenhagen

Jacob Knudsen, Project developer and Coordinator at VIFIN (Resource Center for Integration) Municipality of Vejle

Smart city strategies concern the improvement of economic and political efficiency and the enabling of social, cultural and urban development (Hollands 2008) and covers a variety of fields from improving infrastructures, social and cultural development, resilience strategies (e.g. green energy), improving schools, social welfare institutions, public and private institutions etc. The 'smart' in smart city strategies implies that these efforts are accomplished by the introduction and embedding of smart media technology into the very fabric of society. This is often done in a top-down and technology-centric way (from city branding initiatives to the digitization of the public sector). This presentation will challenge this approach to smart city strategies by proposing that instead of a 'technology first' approach, we need to introduce the smart citizen in the center of smart city strategic planning and development. Focusing on processes of citizen participation and co-creation as the main driving force, we introduce a concept of 'smart city at eye level'. The introduction of new media technology and new media uses need to emerge from a profound understanding of the wants, needs and abilities of the citizens in the center of these new cross-media settings and will have to be accomplished in collaboration with said citizens. This presentation will present some basic principles for ‘smart cities at eye level’ explained through case studies of digital media in day care and new educational systems.