CEJC Volume 9, No 1 (16), Spring 2016

Editors: Bogusława Dobek-Ostrowska, Adam Michel
Guest editor: David H. Weaver

cejoc_spring 2016_13.1-page-001Guest editor’s introduction

David H. Weaver (Indiana University in Bloomington, USA)

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Journalists, PR professionals and the practice of paid news in Central and Eastern Europe: An overview 

Henrik Örnebring (Karlstad University, Sweden)

 This article maps the practice of paid news in Central and Eastern Europe using a review of previous research and a set of explanatory semi-structured interviews with journalists and PR practitioners across 10 post-communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe (N= 164). Paid news refers to the practice of journalists and/or news organizations taking money (often offered through the intermediary of a PR professional or PR company) to write puff pieces for business or political interests without indicating that the content is in a fact paid for, i.e. a form of corruption of both journalism and PR. This presentantion suggests that the existance of the practise is to a great extent systemic, as both journalists and the PR professionals are part of common “culture corruption” and thus the continued existence of the practice is also a de-professionalizing influence on both occupations, where representatives of both spheres have strong incentives to keep utilizing paid news

KEYWORDS: journalism, PR, paid news, professionalism, Central and Eastern Europe.

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Forms of local media relations in local communities – case studies 

Sylwia Męcfal (University of Łódź, Poland)

ABSTRACT: The local media market in Poland developed in very particular conditions, conditions which Nowak (1979,1981) described as a “social void”. As a result, it might be presumed that it was more likely that the new forms of society (including local media) were formed on the basis of the “bounding” type of social capital rather than the “bridging” type. This might be one of the reasons why tight and coplex relationships between the local media and the other social actors still exist. On the basis of my own qualitative research (case studies conducted in four small towns in Poland), this article shows how complex the local relations are and describes the involvement of local journalists and local media owners in these networks of relations which might often be a cause of condlicts of interest (individual or institutional) or media bias.

KEYWORDS: local media, local relations, confilct of interest, symmetrical relations, non-symetrical relations.

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Facebook as an alternative public space: The use of Facebook by Ukrainian journalists during the 2012 parlimentary election

Dariya Orlova and Daria Taradai (National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine)

ABSTRACT: As the social media increasingly proliferate and shape media consumption in the present-day world, journalists growingly turn to them in search of direct access to their audiences. Under conditions of restricted media freedom, such access suggests a great asset both to journalists who can engage into an open discussion with a wider public and to the very public. In Ukraine, both trends had been vivid in recent years proceding the Euromaidan: on the one hand, media freedom had been deteriorating, but on the other hand, journalists had been utilizing social media more actively. The article examines how Ukrainian journalists communicated with their audiences via Facebook. In particular, it analyzes patterns of interaction during the 2012 parlimentary election campaign. The results of the study show a substantial level of confusion among Ukrainian journalists regarding the role of public debate on Facebook in 2012-2013. While journalists tended to dismiss users’ comments as mostly irrelevant, the did consider themselves to be providers of important information or viewpoints for the formation of public opinion. Although such interaction between journalists and other users does not satisfy the normative criteria of the public sphere, analysis of content and interviews with journalists showed that Facebook did suggest an evolving alternative public space in Ukraine, in contrast to the ever more controlled space of mainstream media during the presidency of Yanukovych.

KEYWORDS: Ukraine, journalism, Facebook, social media, public sphere, media freedom.

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Who defines the narrative of a crisis? The case of an Estonian online boycott campaign against an international supermarket chain 

Päivi Tampere, Kaja Tampere, Scott Abel (Tallin University, Estonia)

ABSTRACT: This study examines the impact of social media activism in the form of a boycott case through the analysis of online and mass media news articles. The article reviews a conflict between a supermarket chain and its Estonian customers in April 2010, and focuses on definition hegemony (the process by which the crisis is defined), the reaction of journslists and consumers to the case, and its impact on a company’s crisis communication. It examines the role of social media in formenting a crisis and keeping it active. The analysis of social media and mass media texts, as well as press releases, suggest that citizens have power over corporations because of their ability to raise questions, be critical of company behaviour, and in defining the crisis narrative. The findings indicate that who is able to define the crisis can significantly affect its course.

KEYWORDS: crisis communictaion, social media, boycott, media relations, issues menagement, definition hegemony.

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Internet meme as meaningful discourse: towards a theory of multiparticipant popular online content 

Jakub Nowak (Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Poland)

ABSTRACT: Departing from the cultural studies semiotic approach, this chapter seeks to analytically reviews shifts in roles of media users given increasingly participation-oriented media tools. Drawing upon the re-interpretation of Stuart Hall’s seminal encoding/decoding model of communication, the author proposes a theoretical concept of internet meme perceived as multiparticipant popular online content combining modalities of traditional (vertical and cultutre industry-orginated) and new (horizontal and peer-reproduced) modalities of media production and consumption. The author problematizes this concept by recontextualizing several aspects of Hall’s theory: 1) theoretical appropration of four stages of Hall’s “chain of discourse” (messages’ production, circulation, use, reproduction) to a new – highly converged – media environment; 2) ambiguous status of internet meme’s authorship; 3) new contexts for analyzing internet memes, including: online pop-culture modalities, different strategies of “old” and “new” culture industries, Intellectual Property Rights policies.

KEYWORDS: Stuart Hall, internet meme, popular culture, communication theory, model of communication, internet.

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Internet media as the digital public sphere: Possibilities and problems 

Jakub Parnes (University of Economics in Katowice, Poland)

ABSTRACT: This article tries to diagnose possibilities and limitations of the online media as a digital agora – a virtual space for citizens’ deliberation which could potentially strenghten and enhance democracy in Poland, as well as in other Central European countries. Considering the key features of the public sphere indicated by Habermas (inclusiveness, rationally, autonomy, lack of hierarchy), the analysis focuses on three problem areas. The first one includes the impact of digital exclusion upon avaiability of the digital public sphere for citizens. The second part of the study is devoted to rationalitly and interactivity of online discourse. The last part of the analysis adresses the impact of the relative anonymity of online communication on the equality and autonomy of citizens’ deliberation on the internet.

KEYWORDS: digital public sphere, civil deliveration, citizens’ online discourse, digital exclusion, relative anonymity of online discourse.

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The unlikely advocates of media literacy education: Jean-Jacques Rosseau and John Stuart Mill 

Anamaria Neag (Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre for Social Sciences, Hungary)

ABSTRACT: Media literacy is defined as a set of competencies that helps people critically analyze, understand and create media messages. Teaching children to become media literate emerged as a new field of education in second half of the 20th century. While the pioneering work of Dewey, Freinet, Gerbner, Hall and Whannel (as cited by Cappello et at., 2011) was influential in the developement of media literacy, this article argues for the importance positioning media literacy in a broader theoretical context. Therefore, this article presents an analysis of media literacy education by relying on two of the founders of modern social though: Rousseau and Mill. The article demonstrates how Rousseau’s treatise is as timely as ever when it comes to understanding the importance of media literacy education not only in school curricula, but also in many other aspects of social life.

KEYWORDS: media literacy, media education, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Stuart Mill

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Media and the sacralization of history 

Krzysztof Wasilewski (Regional and Municipal Public Library in Gorzów Wielkopolski, Poland)

ABSTRACT: This article presents an analysis of the process of sacralization of history in the media discourse. Certain events and figures from the past are incorporated into the sphere of sacrum which excludes and discussion and maintains the domination of one narration of history. The process of sacralization may take places directly and indirectly. The first relies on direct inclusion to the discourse of certain words, wchich are associated with religion. The indirect sacralization takes place when episodes from the past are changed into universal stories of fight between the good and the evil. The analysis is performed on printed media discourses concerning three events from Poland’s contemporary history: the 1920 Warsaw Battle of Warsaw, the 1944 Warsaw Uprising and the post-war armed underground.

KEYWORDS: history, collective memory, discourse, religion, sacralization, media.

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Journalism around the world in the 21st century – 
Interview with Professor David H. Weaver 

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The interview was conducted by Adam Michel in December 2015

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