Why Citizens Still Rarely Serve as News Sources: Validating a Tripartite Model of Circumstantial, Logistical, and Evaluative Barriers

Zvi Reich


Despite being equipped to an unprecedented extent to become substantial news players, despite a growing need for their journalistic input, and despite the promise of user-generated content to give them voice, ordinary citizens remain a negligible news source. To explore why this is so, I propose a model that indicates journalists’ reliance on citizens is hindered by three factors: circumstantial (situations calling for input from citizens arise ad hoc), logistical (using them requires greater journalistic effort), and evaluative (journalists appreciate their contributions less). A broad comparison of contacts with ordinary citizens against contacts with other source types (N = 2,381) in Israel strongly validates this model. To enhance their access, citizens may need not only a technological revolution but also a social, cultural, and epistemic revolution.


citizens, news sources, news access, technology, participation, Israel

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