Exploring Relationships between Journalists and Audience in Georgia


Social media regained the scholar’s attention due to its disruptive nature and different transformation process in a journalism environment. The digital age has brought the fragmentation and the increased the autonomy of audiences (Napoli, 2011), facilitated a connection with them as networked of actors (Ferrucci, 2018) and changed relationships with news organizations and audience. This caused challenges for journalists. The transition from the traditional media model to online operations had an impact on the news work practice of journalists and brought changes in professional journalistic news production practice. In addition, Social media use has resulted negatively in unreliable information spreading by journalists that impacted on the credibility of news organizations and journalism as an institution. (Lecheler and Kruikemeier 2016).

Digital revolution has put Georgian journalism at a similar condition to other countries around the world. It became possible to contribute to news production and distribution in various ways. Due to increased audience participation in news production on social media, it is required to establish new ways of dialogue between journalism and audience at national and international level. Changed relationships between audience and journalism come to the questions. What possibilities are to engage an audience in news production within media outlets? How can journalists build relationships, communities among their users on social media? How the audience contribute news production and distribution process to strengthen their legitimacy?

Therefore, the aim of this paper is to explore the importance of audience communication for media outlets in Georgia. In particular, the purpose of this study is to explore the ways journalists build relationships with audience and audience involvement in the news production process and distribution on a daily basis. Objectives are to gather and analyse qualitative data based on journalist’s experiences working for media outlets (newspaper, public service broadcasting, Radio, online portals).

The research questions are based on the dimensions used by David Domingo's (2008) analytical model to analyse the news production stages (Access to and study of information; Sampling and filtering; Data processing and editing; Dissemination; Interpretation). The analytical model will help me to ensure rules or identify uncertainties that contribute or limit particular stages of news production. The empirical study is based on the utility of institutional theory to understand the role of the audience in the news production process and distribution. I argue that the integration of social relationships and cooperation enhance the legitimacy of journalism.