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Current technological, organizational and institutional changes fundamentally alter the relationship between journalism and its audience – with consequences not only for journalistic practice, but also for theoretical and methodological issues of media research. After briefly recounting three perspectives on the audience, the paper outlines key aspects of the sociological theory of inclusion and explicates them in a novel and comprehensive heuristic model of audience inclusion in journalism. It introduces two constructs which apply both to journalism and the audience: (1) inclusion performance subsumes inclusion practices and their manifest results, and (2) inclusion expectations subsume attitudes, norms and perceptions with respect to audience inclusion in journalism. The degree of congruence between performances of journalists and audience members is interpreted as inclusion level; the degree of congruence between the expectations is interpreted as inclusion distance. This model can serve as a heuristic for empirical operationalization, helps to systematize existing and future research on digital networked media and journalism into a coherent sociological framework and is also open for comparative research on participation in other social systems.
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Keywords: Web 2.0; audience; audience participation; inclusion; journalism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Hans-Bredow-Institute for Media Research, Warburgstr. 8/10Hamburg,20354, Germany 2: [email protected], Email: [email protected], URL:"> Hans-Bredow-Institute for Media Research, Warburgstr. 8/10Hamburg, Germany< xmlns:xlink="" xlink:href="">[email protected], Email: [email protected], URL:

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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