Text topic: Themes
Text author: Горан Томка
In hyper-complex societies in which we live today, a growing question is whether the mass-media concept of the 20th century is still applicable to the contemporary moment. The media manipulation, spinning and commercialization distance media production from its audiences. At the same time, the flood of free web-based content creates new distribution channels and markets. This new economic and social context challenges media organizations to reconfigure their social role and (re)create relationships with their audiences. However, opening the gates for the transition of the people formerly known as the audience to the production side of the media sphere, can easily create a total confusion and chaos. The solution partly lies in the management of media participation. The aim of this research is to map and analyse various models of participatory journalism used by Serbian online media. In the qualitative research process, editors of four leading online media organizations shared their practices, experiences, struggles and opinions on the topic. Four models of management of participatory practice were mapped and analysed in detail. The most commonly used model is the commentary-based one, while the classical citizen journalism model still plays an important role. The research shows that more complex models - like the integration with social media and opening specialized media spaces for audiences - offer more freedom of expression to the audiences and create new audiences (and markets) for the media. However, these models are more demanding towards the audience as well, asking for more responsibility, skills and courage to communicate delicate matters. Finally, it is important to notice that every media is trying to find its own mix of practices and procedures, which will enable them to operate in a highly difficult economic and political situation for the media in Serbia of today.