'When Amateur Journalism Ceases to be Civic: the case of Notícias Viriato' ExOrdo submission number: 3875
IAMCR - Journalism Research and Education Section (JRE)
Abstract On the 10th June 2019 a new “information” website was launched in Portugal. Its name is Notícias Viriato (Viriato News), and its structure mimics a traditional online news outlet. However, if one bears in mind the criteria regulating journalism in Portugal, this site does not correspond to a news outlet. Firstly, it is not registered in the Regulatory Communication Entity that regulates media in general and journalism outlets in particular; secondly, the information output is not delivered by journalists. Here, we should take into account that, in Portugal, journalists are only legally considered as such if they are registered in the Journalists’ Professional License Committee. Being produced by citizens who are not journalists, and with a positioning clearly despising traditional media, it is important to understand where Notícias Viriato fits in, in light of the classification labels for this kind of information production, as described,.for example, by Chris Atton (2009). Indeed, Atton specifies that the more frequently used labels - alternative journalism; citizen’s media; citizen journalism; democratic media; radical media, - share an ideological perspective and thus circumvent the traditional journalistic criteria of impartiality. Page 80 We would argue that the Portuguese media landscape tends to follow a ‘catch-all model’ (Arons de Carvalho 2011), where newspapers seek to embrace several ideological slants, due the attempt to optimise financial viability in the context of a small market. In this context, websites like Notícias Viriato occupy the empty space of biased information, leaning, in this case, towards right-wing conservativism. Taking Notícias Viriato as case study, we propose to analyse the logics behind the constitution of this website, and the way it positions itself as more reliable than traditional media outlets. Trust and diversity of perspectives are characteristics that this website flags up so as to hold audiences’ attention in a digital age of ferocious media competition. The main objective of our presentation is to shed light on the creation of such a website, revealing connections it may have to other international ‘journalistic’ initiatives of the kind (ex. Voice of Europe). We will explore the extent to which such a site represents a novel ‘normalcy’ for journalism and what this means for other official media outlets as well as the public. Issues that arise concern the assimilation of lay contributions by news organisations and implications both for the professionalization of journalism and editorial control over media content (Splichal and Dahlgren 2016). Methodologically, we will perform content analysis of the Viriato Notícias website, and carry out interviews with its creators, as well as with the publishers of official media outlets or other entities with editorial responsibilities, and regulatory bodies. Arons de Carvalho, Alberto (2011), ‘O alinhamento político da imprensa Portuguesa’, http://www.eclique.com/suplementos/opiniao/com/o- alinhamentopolitico-da-imprensa-portuguesa/. Accessed 14 January 2020. Atton, Chris (2009) ‘Alternative and Citizen Journalism’, in The Handbook of Journalism Studies (eds. Karin Wahl-Jorgensen , Thomas Hanitzsch). London: Routledge, pp. 265-278. Splichal, Slavko & Dahlgren, Peter (2016) ‘Journalism between de-professionalisation and democratisation’, European Journal of Communication 31(1): 5-18.