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Gamifying the news: Exploring the introduction of game elements into digital journalism
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Geography, Media and Communication (from 2013). (NODE)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0501-2217
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

For over a century, crosswords, puzzles, and quizzes have been present in newspapers. Digital journalism has only increased the trend of integrating game elements in news media, often blurring the traditional boundaries between news and games.

This dissertation aims to explore and understand how and why news organizations and newsworkers use gamification in digital news websites and to analyze the objectives behind its implementation in news production. The importance of trying to understand this development stems from the different roles that digital games and news have in contemporary democratic societies. While journalism is often regarded as the main source of information for the public to act as citizens, digital games predominantly remain considered as entertainment media.

Drawing from media sociology and new institutionalism, this study engages with the literature on converging processes of popularization and professionalization of journalism, and how different institutional logics of gamification and journalism interact. Methodologically, this qualitative multiple case study analyzes four diverse news organizations (the Guardian, Bleacher Report, the Times of India, and Al Jazeera), interviewing 56 newsworkers, and conducting game-system analysis of their respective gamified systems.

The findings suggest that while news organizations often frame their motivations within the celebratory rhetoric of gamification, a deeper look into the material manifestations of gamified news systems tend to problematize the empowering claims of gamification. Instead, a complex interplay between the professional and commercial logics of journalism and the hedonic and utilitarian logics of gamification shapes how news organizations and newsworkers implement gamified systems. This dissertation contributes to a larger debate on the friction professionalism and the market, on institutional interaction, and the increasing transgression of journalistic institutional borders.

Abstract [en]

Would you read more news if you could earn points, win badges, unlock content, or level up? Would a journalist write more often to be on top of a leaderboard?

Various digital newspapers have integrated gamification as a way to incentivize user behavior with game elements. However, the ways news organizations use gamification and the behaviors they target are not homogenous. This dissertation studied four news organizations – the Guardian, Bleacher Report, the Times of India, and Al Jazeera – that use gamification in surprisingly different ways. From giving incentives and rewards to their readers, to crafting new storytelling techniques. From creating a system where journalists are the players, to calling the readers to participate in a crowdsourcing investigative initiative. The results suggest that a complex interplay between the professional and commercial logics of journalism and the hedonic and utilitarian logics of gamification shapes the implementation of gamified systems.

But, is it all fun and games, or are there other concerns about how news organizations and newsworkers are gamifying the news?

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2018. , p. 298
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2018:36
Keywords [en]
Journalism, Digital Journalism, Gamification, News, Institutional Logics
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-68828ISBN: 978-91-7063-871-8 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7063-966-1 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-68828DiVA, id: diva2:1240298
Public defence
2018-10-05, 12A138 Geijer, Universitetsgatan 2, Karlstad, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-09-17 Created: 2018-08-21 Last updated: 2019-02-12Bibliographically approved

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