Thematic issue: Social media and social change
Guest Editor Ilya Kiriya
A word from the guest editor
National Research University, Higher School of Economics Moscow, Russia
New media are changing the individual communication landscape. Convergence of channels, devices, services and content gives us a wide range of possible patterns to communicate, collaborate and entertain. How this variety of choices is realised through social practices is, and obviously will be, one of the most exciting items on the research agenda. Points of difference between new media practices are not only limited to general social and demographic features but also reside in geographical and especially cultural differences. From this point of view it is important to build up regional or pan-regional agendas for researching this topic. Thus, a three Russian and Swedish universities (National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and Södertörn University) two years ago launched the academic project “New Media in Baltic Countries”. It reflects differences and similarities to be found in new media practices across the region and also between it and other countries.
This thematic issue of the Journal of Print and Media Technology Research puts together the main academic results of this collaboration. More precisely, it reflects the main discussions and topics of an international conference held at the Higher School of Economics in Saint Petersburg in September 2012. We have selected, assembled and elaborated the presentations which were more or less concerned with the social consequences of new media technology worldwide.
New media technologies are penetrating more and more into social life and generating more and more research interest in different scientific disciplines. Actually, we are observing the “social sciences’ turn” to study new media technologies. It reorients the research palettes from a purely technological field and functional analysis towards more complex realms.
This thematic issue of the Journal of Print and Media Technology Research regroups research papers of scholars, mostly from social sciences perspectives, that examine ties between so called new media and different aspects of modern societies. It means that this special issue is mostly not about technologies but about their appropriation by society and the messages which such technologies are able to diffuse.
This issue starts with the analysis of inequalities of access to new media (the so-called digital divide) between the city and rural areas studied in one Russian case. Sergey Davydov, Olga Logunova and Evgenia Petrova show us that if new media are finally penetrating the Russian countryside, there is a variety of individual patterns of usage of such devices.
Renira Gombarato is studying how the appearance of such a multiplatform realm changes the nature and mechanism of telling stories and incites people to use different platforms to create new stories and to participate inside it.
Jonas Appelberg, Elena Johansson, Gunnar Nygren and Pawel Baranowski analysed the realm of the production of messages within the interaction of two media environments: traditional journalism and professional journalists’ blogs. They show the complexity of functions that such new media play for the professional journalist. This analysis is based on the different journalistic cultures of three studied countries.
Elizaveta Gaufmann is much more preoccupied with the way new media are creating the public discourse and she takes the case of Russian nationalism. She shows how the blog discourse is contributing to the offline protest activities of nationalists.
In the closing article, I criticise the techno-determinist approach of interpreting new media as a tool of democracy and show how the configuration of new media in Russia corresponds to the reproduction of the actual political order.
Blogging nation: Russian race riots online
Sergey Davydov1, Olga Logunova1, Eugenia Petrova2
E-mails: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
1 National Research University, Higher School of Economics, Garibaldi street, 10-6-692 RU-117393 Moscow, Russia
2 Don State Technical University, Gagarin Square, 1, RU-344000 Rostov-on-Don, Russia
Russian media infrastructure is known to be more developed in big cities compared with smaller settlements. Thus, the rural audience is not a popular object of research. It is believed that the development of new media, including the internet, occurs with a certain delay there, and also the commercial potential of these types of customers is quite low.
The authors of this paper aim at answering the question: What are the features of internet development and consumption in rural Russia? The research is based on the results of several quantitative surveys, covering all the Russian population including rural residents, as well as two ethnographic research expeditions to the Kostroma and Rostov regions.
Keywords: internet consumption, rural audiences, Runet, social networks
JPMTR 037⎮ 1323 Research paper
Transmedia storytelling in analysis: The case of Final punishment
Renira R. Gambarato
Faculty of Media Communications, National Research University, Higher School of Economics Building 5, 2/8 Khitrovskiy Pereulok, RU-101990 Moscow, Russia
Transmedia storytelling refers to both fictional and non-fictional narratives that are expanded across different media platforms, inviting the audience to engage and migrate from one medium to another in order to undergo an enriched experience. As a relatively new and elusive subject, it does not have its own specific methods and methodology of analysis. This was my main motivation in proposing a transmedia project design analytical model, aimed at outlining relevant aspects that could contribute to understanding the process of the development of transmedia projects. First, this article succinctly presents the original analytical model to approach cases of transmedia projects and later applies it to Final Punishment, an award-winning multiplatform series produced in Brazil in 2009 by the Portuguese company BeActive – one of the pioneering transmedia production companies. The transmedia project focuses on eight women imprisoned in a fictitious high-security prison in Rio de Janeiro. It was possible to conclude that Final Punishment contributed to the development and dissemination of transmedia storytelling in Brazil, because in 2009 the country was just crawling in terms of multiplatform media production. Final Punishment gained notoriety not because of its rather limited range in terms of audience reach (a million viewers per episode and 115000 alternate reality game (ARG) players is not a great amount in such a large country as Brazil), but for its integrated and well-designed content which unfolded across multiple media platforms in a mixture of portmanteau and franchise transmedia type. The inconsistencies generated by the courageous initiative to produce a mockumentary in a country accustomed to mostly trusting everything that appears in the media, did not reduce the impact of Final Punishment.
Keywords: transmedia analysis, transmedia project design, analytical model, multiplatform production
JPMTR 038 ⎮ 1324 Case study
Social media in the professional work of Polish, Russian and Swedish journalists
Jonas Appelberg1, 3, Elena Johansson1, Gunnar Nygren1, Pawel Baranowski2
E-mails: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Södertörn University, Alfred Nobels allé 7, S-141 89 Huddinge, Sweden
2 Wroclaw University, Pl. Uniwersytecki 1, PL-50-137 Wrocław, Poland
3 Midsweden University Sundswall, Sweden
Professional journalistic culture is a complex mix of journalistic values, practices, norms and media products. On the one hand it tends to be unified across the globe, but on the other hand it varies according to cultural diversities. Technological development leads to a media convergence, which increases interactivity and offers many opportunities for individualisation of media content. This, in turn, influences the demands of the audience and challenges the traditional routines of journalists’ work – as well as affecting professional practices and even undermining the traditional role of a journalist in society.
Nowadays, the audience is more interested in participating in, rather than just consuming, media content. Social media creates new conditions for both actors: readers/viewers/listeners and for media professionals who use it as a tool for media work. Journalists in different countries, however, do not use social media for professional purposes equally. This paper discusses differences and similarities in the patterns of social media use by Polish, Russian and Swedish journalists. The research is based on a survey of 500 journalists in each country.
Keywords: professional journalistic culture, social media platforms, user generated content, media, gatekeeping, participatory culture
JPMTR 039 ⎮ 1322 Research paper
Blogging nation: Russian race riots online
University of Tübingen, Institute of Political Science, Melanchtonstr. 36, D-72074 Tübingen, Germany
New media sources provide a rich pool of data for political scientists. This is especially true within the field of securitisation theory, where tracing the audience’s reaction to discourses is paramount. The blogosphere’s quintessentially interactive environment serves as a fertile ground for observing reactions of ‘netizens’ within their ‘habitat’ without the caveats of the artificiality of lab experiments or the inherent bias of questionnaires. This paper focuses on the quantitative and qualitative analysis of blog commentaries to entries in the Russian-speaking segment of LiveJournal.com, which pertain to the Manezhnaia riots of December 2010. I argue that an analysis of the blogosphere can complete the methodological gaps within the field of securitisation theory.
Keywords: blogs, social media, social networks, nationalism, Russia, riot
JPMTR 040 ⎮ 1325 Case study
Social media as a tool of political isolation in the Russian public sphere
Faculty of Media Communications, National Research University, Higher School of Economics, Building 5, 2/8 Khitrovskiy Pereulok RU-101990 Moscow, Russia
The main objective of this article is to show how the configuration of new media, and its ties with the traditional media system in Russia, is contributing to the isolation of the opposition and to social control favourable to the ruling power coalition. From our point of view the media system does not push the opposition parties to elaborate a clear political strategy, which marginalises them and extremely polarises them against the acting political forces. It does not allow the opposition to participate within normal political life through the creation of blocks, coalitions and associations with other parties. All that, in turn, increases the threat to the ruling power coalition’s security blanket, which pushes it to preserve the power at any price.
Such a conclusion is counter to the idea that “new media” is the catalyst of social changes and protest movements (for example in Arab countries). Direct interaction, flexibility and an absence of hierarchy in social media allowed some scholars to highlight the peculiar model of such communication channels, supposedly completely free of manipulation and control. Critiques of such “absence of power relations” within so-called egalitarian networks have been made using theories examining power within networks. This article studies Russian social media within the context of the parallel public spheres and examines the political conditions of inclusion/exclusion of oppositional forces into/from public debates.
Keywords: new media, public sphere, parallel media, political debates, social media, isolation, oppositional media
JPMTR 041 ⎮ 1326 Original research paper