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The digital spotlight: Applying a connective action framework of political protest to global watchdog reporting
journal contributionposted on 07.01.2021, 06:28 by Andrea Carson
Online First - as at 07/01/2021
© The Author(s) 2020. Digital technologies have transformed advertising markets causing disruption to the funding of traditional media. Yet, paradoxically, the digital age also provides new opportunities for journalism, enabling innovations in investigative reporting on a global scale. However, the transition of investigative journalism from a single newsroom to a multi-newsroom model—involving large-scale transnational collaboration, use of social media networks to extend audience reach and impact, and data journalism to analyze mass data leaks—is understudied. This paper adapts a conceptual framework usually applied to large-scale political protest movements to large-scale collaborative investigative journalism. It aims to show how Lance Bennett and Alexandra Segerberg’s “logic of connective action” can be adapted to understand different forms of networked action such as global collaborative watchdog reporting. Bennett and Segerberg identify three distinct types of large-scale protest formations and this paper contends that these can be approximated to fit different types of large-scale transnational collaborative investigative journalism. Using a case study methodology and interviews with investigative journalists, the article develops a framework to differentiate between types of large-scale investigative collaborations. The framework helps to understand differences between the collaborative investigative reporting efforts of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), WikiLeaks, and Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency (NSA) leaks. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, this article seeks to advance theoretical understandings of global watchdog reporting in the digital age.