New Frontiers in Newsgathering: How Foreign Correspondents Use Chat Apps to Cover Political Unrest

Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia University, 2016.

56 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2016 Last revised: 24 Nov 2016

See all articles by Valerie Belair-Gagnon

Valerie Belair-Gagnon

Yale University - Information Society Project

Colin Agur

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Hubbard School of Journalism & Mass Communication; Yale Law School

Nicholas Frisch

Independent

Date Written: November 4, 2016

Abstract

Coverage of any breaking news event today often includes footage captured by eyewitnesses and uploaded to the social web. This has changed how journalists and news organizations not only report and produce news, but also how they engage with sources and audiences. In addition to social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, chat apps such as WhatsApp and WeChat are a rapidly growing source of information about newsworthy events and an essential link between participants and reporters covering those events.

To look at how journalists at major news organizations use chat apps for newsgathering during political unrest, we focus on a case study of foreign correspondents based in Hong Kong and China during and since the 2014 Umbrella Movement Hong Kong protests. Political unrest in Hong Kong and China often centers around civic rights and government corruption. The Umbrella Movement involved large-scale, sit-in street protests, rejecting proposed changes to Hong Kong’s electoral laws and demanding voting rights for all Hong Kong citizens.

Through a combination of observation and interviews with foreign correspondents, this report explores technology’s implications for reporting political unrest: how and why the protesters and official sources used chat apps, and the ways foreign reporters used chat apps (which are typically closed platforms) for newsgathering, internal coordination, and information sharing.

Suggested Citation

Belair-Gagnon, Valerie and Agur, Colin and Frisch, Nicholas, New Frontiers in Newsgathering: How Foreign Correspondents Use Chat Apps to Cover Political Unrest (November 4, 2016). Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Columbia University, 2016.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2868023

Valerie Belair-Gagnon

Yale University - Information Society Project ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

Colin Agur (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Hubbard School of Journalism & Mass Communication

206 Church St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

HOME PAGE: http://colinagur.com

Yale Law School

New Haven, CT
United States

Nicholas Frisch

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

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