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Using Messaging Apps in Audience Research: An Approach to Study Everyday Information and News Use Practices

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Abstract

Messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger are an essential part of people’s communication practices, but have thus far received only little attention as a tool for data collection. In this article, it is argued that using established messaging apps in audience research can help to better make sense of everyday information and news use practices. Being already integrated into most smartphone users’ daily routines, providing easy-to-use solutions for the sharing of rich and context-sensitive data as well as an instant feedback channel, messaging apps make the documentation of one’s information/news use a familiar and convenient experience for participants that can easily be incorporated into their day-to-day life. Drawing on insights from two research projects focussed on young adults’ information and news use practices, it is illustrated how messaging apps can be utilized in qualitative and mixed-methods diary study designs. Reflecting on methodological and epistemological issues, the advantages and challenges of using messaging apps in audience research are discussed from the researchers’ and the participants’ perspectives.

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Conference Paper
With the advent of instant mobile messaging applications, traditional SMS is in danger of loosing it's reign as the king of mobile messaging. Applications like WhatsApp allow mobile users to send real-time text messages to individuals or groups of friends at no cost. While there is a vast body of research on traditional text messaging practices, little is understood about how and why people have adopted and appropriated instant mobile messaging applications. The goal of this work is to provide a deeper understanding of the motives and perceptions of a popular mobile messaging application called WhatsApp and to learn more about what this service offers above and beyond traditional SMS. To this end, we present insights from two studies an interview study and a large-scale survey highlighting that while WhatsApp offers benefits such as cost, sense of community and immediacy, SMS is still considered a more reliable, privacy preserving technology for mobile communication.
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This article describes a novel approach to experience sampling as a response to the challenges of researching the everyday lives of young children at home. Parents from 11 families used mobile phones to send the research team combined picture and text messages to provide ‘experience snapshots’ of their child’s activities six times on each of three separate days. The article describes how the method aligns with an ecocultural approach, illustrates the variation in children’s experiences and provides sufficient detail for researchers to adapt the method for the purposes of collecting data in other contexts. The article summarizes the benefits and shortcomings from the perspectives of families and researchers.
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Bei dem Versuch, die Charakteristika der heutigen Gesellschaft mit einem Schlagwort zusammenzufassen, wird in den letzten Jahrzehnten häufig das Bild der „Informationsgesellschaft“ bemüht.1 Bei all ihrer Unterschiedlichkeit teilen die verschiedenen Konzepte die Diagnose, dass die derzeitige Gesellschaft grundlegend geprägt ist von der Zunahme der Quantität, der Komplexität und der wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Bedeutung von Information sowie der Technologien zu ihrer Übermittlung (vgl. Tsvasman 2006; Ott 2004: 253ff.). Gleichzeitig verlieren jedoch sowohl der Begriff der Information als auch Informationen selbst durch ihr inflationäres Kursieren an Gehalt. Diese Umschreibung erinnert an den in den letzten Jahren insbesondere von Friedrich Krotz (2001) geprägten Begriff der Mediatisierung, der den Metaprozess der zunehmenden Durchdringung des Alltags mit immer weiter ausdifferenzierten Kommunikationsmedien bezeichnet.
Practicing Audience-Centred Journalism Research
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Capturing and Making Sense of Everyday News Use
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Groot Kormelink, T. 2019. Capturing and Making Sense of Everyday News Use. Amsterdam: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Based on Number of Monthly Active Users [Data from We Are Social; Hootsuite; DataReportal
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ARD/ZDF-Onlinestudie
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Medientagebücher [Media Diaries
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