terça-feira, 11 de maio de 2010

Dr Tamara Witschge


Tamara Witschge (PhD) is a lecturer at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies. She obtained her PhD degree from the Amsterdam School of Communications Research, University of Amsterdam in May 2007.

Tamara's main research interests are media and democracy, changes in the journalistic field, equality and diversity in the public sphere, and the public debate on immigration. Her PhD thesis '(In)difference Online' focused on online discussions of contested issues. From 2007-2009 she was a research associate at the Media and Communications Department and worked on the Leverhulme Trust funded project 'Spaces of News'. This project aimed to explore the ways in which technological, economic and social change is reconfiguring news journalism and shaping the dynamics of the public sphere and public culture.

Tamara is the General Secretary of European Communication Research and Education Association (since 2008). She was one of the main organizers of the First European Communication Conference (ECC), held in November 2005 in Amsterdam and is part of ECC's organizing committee (Barcelona and Hamburg). She was the Secretary of the Board of ECREA (2007-2008) and the chair of the Young Scholars Network of ECREA from 2008-2009. She is a member of the editorial board of the international journal New Media and Society, as well as of PLATFORM: Journal of Media and Communication.

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The development of the Internet as a communication medium for the masses has rekindled interest in the democratic debate. The Internet’s features are deemed ideal for enabling the type of communication that should take place in the public sphere. This has motivated a number of scholars to examine the extent to which the Internet actually enables democratic discussion, as well as democratise journalistic practices. Dominant modes of communication are said to be altered, allowing for more inclusive forms of participation in public discussion and journalism. In this contribution I will critically interrogate both the expectations that surround new media’s role in enhancing the voice of the citizen in the public domain as well as new media’s assumed democratising nature.

I will address the themes central to the conference by examining to what extent new media have altered the relationship between the constituents of the public domain: political actors, journalism and the public. I will focus on the latter two and ask 1) whether new media technologies (specifically the internet) provide a greater and altered role for citizens in the public domain, and what type of political interactions we can find in this online sphere (public deliberation being one of the main themes of the conference); 2) whether, and, if so, how the role of journalists as gatekeepers of information in the public domain has been impacted by the introduction of the new media technologies in the newsroom. The latter question relates to the widespread expectation that online access provides citizens with tools to contribute to journalism in news ways. From this new forms of more participatory journalism are said to develop (connecting to the second theme of the conference: journalism and civic participation).

In examining these questions I will draw from research conducted in the Netherlands and the UK into the plurality of voices in the online public domain. This will include research into the online interactions between citizens, the role of citizens in online journalism, and the possibilities of alternative journalism online. The theme that runs through these interrogations is whether we can see a greater diversity in the public domain as a result of the virtually unlimited space available for communication in the online media landscape.

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