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Revista Latina de Comunicación Social # 071 – Pages 1.131 to 1.150

[Research] | DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2016-1138en | ISSN 1138-5820 | Year 2016

How to cite this article in bibliographies / References

D Rivera Rogel, G Carrión Salinas, J Córdova Camacho (2016): “Contribution of users in building digital content in the mainstream media of the Andean Community”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 71, pp. 1.131 to 1.150.

DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2016-1138en

Contribution of users in building digital content in the mainstream media of the Andean Community

D Rivera Rogel [CV] Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja /

G Carrión Salinas [CV] Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja /

J Córdova Camacho [CV] Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja /


Introduction. Achieve a participation of users with a journalistic tone has become the greatest challenge of digital media of the Andean Community (CAN) and the world. This research analyzes the forms of interaction, means to interact, models, and tools that online media have for the user to input relevant data. Digital Newspapers under study are: “El Comercio” in Peru, “El Tiempo” in Colombia, “El Deber” in Bolivia and “El Universo” in Ecuador. Methodology. It is based on a qualitative and quantitative research type, by observing digital media for two weeks, to determine levels of interactivity and participation of citizens, criteria and ratings that they give to the news. Results. The research concludes that the participation of users provides credibility, keeps digital media alive and fulfills the purpose of online media which is to educate, entertain and train its audience. Users can also be producers of new content and practice responsible citizen journalism.

Cibermedia, citizen journalism, interactivity, digital content.


1. Introduction; 2. Methodology; 3. Observation and Analysis; 3.1. El Comercio in Perú; 3.2. El Tiempo in Colombia; 3.3. El Deber in Bolivia; 3.4. El Universo in Ecuador; 4. Discussion and Conclusions; 5. References.

1. Introduction
The participation of users in the media has been historically constant. It is true that traditional media: Radio, TV and Press have had many limitations. However, for some years it has begun a process of change in journalistic products, the journalistic profession and especially in the relationship with users.
With the advent of the Web, users are more likely to interact in the network, they can even browse the various social networks, and they can appropriate one way or another Technologies of Information and Communication, contributing lately to creating their own content. According to a study on the motives of the users to contribute content, the need for recognition appears as a fundamental element: "The Respondents believed that through the content-generation online process, they would have the opportunity to be Recognized, gain respect, publicize their expertise, learn more of the world, socialize with friends and be entertained "(Leung, 2009: 1337).
"The network brings a new paradox about the audience: on the one hand, the possibility of a feedback from users, allowing the author and the environment meet better their receptors, knowing immediately what they think, what they feel, what their concerns, preferences and opinions are. On the other hand, such telematics networks turn users into a universal audience: the messages can be distributed, received and often answered at anytime and anywhere "(Martinez, 2007: 211-212).
The pioneering work of Dan Gillmor 'We the Media. Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People' and Chris Willis and Shayne Bowman We Media. ‘How audiences are shaping the future of news and information’, helped to highlight the central factor in this new scenario: audiences, public, and people are the new actors in the work of public communication, which is no longer being starred exclusively by the established media and professional communicators (Orihuela, 2006: 182).
The origin of digital media dates back to 1979, in Birmingham (UK), here comes the first Viewtel 202 digital newspaper, its pages were transmitted by Prestel teletext system (Armentia et al., 2000). Today digital journalism has been consolidated using tools that break barriers of time and place, including: immediacy, interactivity, updating, multimedia, hypertext, among others. This research focuses on interactivity and user contributions.
Digital media in Latin America (Salaverría, 2016: 21) states:
“They have striven to be audience leaders in their respective countries and have struggled to attract, in an exclusively practical way, their national advertisers. Even those who have explored digital media paid content models have oriented their marketing campaigns to attract Internet users in their own country.”
From Interaction to content generation
eferring to the concept of interaction, we can say that it is the ability to present tools that allow users to interact. It is one of the most notable virtues or qualities of online journalism. Created by López, Gago and Pereira (2002: 81) as "the ability of the users to act on the multimedia product presented to them". In this sense Jaime Alonso and Lourdes Martínez (2003: 288-289) state: "in digital media the user experiences a major change from the traditional press. In a generic approach, it can be said that users take on a more active role covering two aspects: first, they participate in the creation of the information process; secondly, they allow to discover more unknown communication spaces up to now."
"Interactivity has become one of the most important features in the relationship between readers and the media with an Internet presence. Virtually every successful online product must necessarily have this feature to grow and capture the interest of users "(Luján, 2002-2003). Thus in Interactivity, we should consider three main factors: the type of audience, purpose and accessibility.
Jens Jensen (1998) theoretically expands the possibilities given by the interaction by defining the concept as the degree that the media potentially has in order to allow the users to influence their content and form. In this sense, it mentions four levels of interactivity according to the degree of participation and control by the user of the information; in addition to the selection options to be established, they are selective, consultational, conversational and registration.

  1. Selective: the user can interact by choosing from a series of unidirectional options and constant "flow" of information (e.g. to select a link, the system responds by taking him where you want).

  1. Consultational: it is generated when a two-way information flow is formed between the user and media. This interaction can be requested by the user (what is called "pull") or supplied by media (what is called "push"), by means of a "choice".

  1. Conversational: the user can generate content (e-mail, forums).

  1. Registration: The system records data about the user and it is based on this generating content / form (games, monitoring system).

Social networking is a term that comes precisely from the dynamics of participation of users in the network. Social networks reinforced by communication networks amplify the phenomenon and help to increase their effectiveness. They allow to coordinate activities whose economic and political dimensions must be taken into consideration (Pisani and Piotet, 2008: 244). This social networking is a step forward in network communications; representing direct communication among members of a society.

Currently the social networks represent well advanced formulas of primitive tools of interactivity, such as the first chats, forums, etc. Building an actively participatory community of friends or followers is not only a matter of "social media play", but also is essential to develop an effective stance against the further development of media products (Ito et al., 2010).
In this context, Rupert Murdoch (in his speech to the American Association of Newspapers Editors in April 2005) said that "newspapers can only survive with multimedia strategies." Adding to this the convergence strategies and incorporation of users for the media (participatory journalism).
The role of citizens in the new communicative scenario has changed over time, currently the users tend to practice citizen journalism that contributes and sometimes consolidates content publishing digital media; this participation is given from the information previously made by the media.
The concept of user-generated content next to citizen journalism is born (Avilés and Carvajal, 2008; Ornebring, 2008, Thurman, 2008), to describe the material created by the public, especially in the news context. Thurman (2008), in a study of British online newspapers in 2008, could differentiate up to six types of user participation: 1) surveys, 2) what users say, 3) real time chatting, 4) interviews in which questions of users are incorporated: 5) blogs, and finally 5) space for messages. Some of these elements are still in place and have formed the basis for generating content by consumers.
A cybermedia should not only serve to read news, but on the contrary it has to become a true virtual site that allows users to exchange messages, create interpersonal networks, share, chat, and comment information, etc. In the specific case of user participation in the commenting system offered by digital media, a study by Nina Springer (2011) establishes two types of cognitive needs. First, the need for "competitive acquisition"; this space allows users to get rich with contributions from other users. Second, the need to "experience the competition”; a need that leads to the most active users to participate in writing comments to improve the ability of argumentation and sharpen discursive skills.
Rushkoff (2010: 19) claimed that coding changes we are witnessing, like "the social, cognitive and intellectual implications" in this age of digital evolution. Young people are developing new codes of conduct and creating models to support production beyond simple publication, and they are making contents acquire other contexts and other uses.
In this context, the term multimedia is highlighted, Ramón Salaverría (2001) to describe it as what it expresses, transmits or perceives through various media. In communication two realities are pointed out: a) languages, in the identification of informative messages transmitted in various media and platforms, and b) media, concerning "multiple intermediaries" who can participate in the transmission of an information product.
In order for the online media and interactivity of users to exist, we cannot forget the role of participation of cyber-journalists who are able to lead the digital environment, strengthen content and interact with the user.
“The cyber-journalists must work as an interpreter of reality and as a manager of knowledge [...] Their work is clear, but it will not be enough. It should contribute to catering to citizens in the use of the media and, especially, of all means that come from the hand of digitilization. [...] To this, journalists and media policies can help, ensuring digital literacy and the education of citizens in the knowledge of the media.” (Lopez, 2003).

2. Methodology
In order to determine the contribution of users in major digital media in the Andean Community, the observation technique was used in the following cybermedia: El Comercio in Perú, El Tiempo in Colombia, El Deber in Bolivia and El Universo in Ecuador. In addition, the analysis of the case was applied, through monitoring of participation models of the studied media for two weeks. it was taken into account issues of greatest relevance and interaction of users in the media and on social networks.
To achieve the objectives in this research, according to model levels of commitment and level of interactivity introduced by Masip and Suau (2011): selective, participative and productive interaction; classification tools of users’ participation in digital media were used.
A matrix was performed for each digital media, which allowed us to identify the most read or most shared news, and the most recommended with number of comments. It was decided to prepare a separate table for each cybermedia, due to these having different parameters regarding the participation of users; some users do not have access to comments, other cybermedia only allow their users to rate news and recommend them in social networks.
Table 1. Model user participation, classified by type of interactivity

Selective Interaction

Participative Interaction

Productive Interaction


Evaluation of the news

News of the readers



Send in photos


Extended information about a 

Send in videos

Contact with media

Errors notification

Send in audios

Contact with journalists/sections

Innapropriate comments reporting

Letters to the Director

Respond comments

Participation in

interviews / send in questions

Vote/Recommend comments

Blogs of the Readers

Comment Opinion Articles

Tools to share Articles

Links to social networks


List of news most viewed/commented/shared


  1. Observation and Analysis

    1. El Comercio in Perú

The constant development of the Internet requires those who handle digital media to stay updated and find new ways of participation and interaction for their users in order to achieve a model that allows citizens to be producers or actors of new accurate, reliable and complete content.
The participation model of El Comercio in Perú offers its users the options to issue, vote -with like or do not like-, share or even respond to and sort comments for readability; these can be sorted as: oldest, the most valued and least valued, also offering interaction on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Figure 1. Comments on news from El Comercio in Perú

Figure 2. Users Interaction on Facebook
The Opinion section comprises: editorial, ephemeris, educated speech, columnists, contributors and author corner, users are identified here and they have the opportunity to participate in this media.
El Comercio has a WhatsApp section; in this space users are the ones who tell the facts through videos and photographs, making citizen journalism and feeling part of the online media.