chapter
18 Pages

Not good enough?

Amateur images in the regular news flow of print and online newspapers
WithMaria Nilsson, Ingela Wadbring

An increasing flow of amateur images of global crises presents challenges and opportunities for mainstream news media. Furthermore, many news organizations now solicit eyewitness reports for near-instant upload to Web editions. Yet, there is a lack of empirical research on amateur images in the regular news flow, in particular in newspapers. Thus, this case study examines the general frequency of amateur content, the gatekeeping process and the opinions of editors making decisions about images for publication in the online and print editions of four Swedish newspapers. Our findings, based on quantitative content analyses and interviews, indicate that a majority of the content falls in the hard-news category in contrast to findings in previous research about user-generated text content. Moreover, it appears regularly but in small numbers in a tabloid-content daily and a regional paper but hardly ever in broadsheet-content papers, and that opinions in the newsroom about amateur images vary from a lack of interest to a stated need for them in the regular news coverage. The low impact of amateur content may be due to the gatekeeping process and professional standards of photography, as well as a lack of audience interest and difficulties in implementing new structures in the newsrooms. In sum, the findings disprove predictions in the literature of a near-paradigmatic rise of amateur content in the mainstream news media.