Viral journalism: The rise of a new form

Author: Domagoj Bebić, Marija Volarević


Current technological and communicational changes introduced with the rise of social media have changed the way the news is created. By using interesting, creative and shareable content in news reporting, such as infographics, polls, videos and memes, the primary goal in news reporting has become the attracting of the user’s attention, and then informing the user. The trend in journalism has become the initiation of the user toward sharing the content – this is why we have introduced a new form of news called viral news. The best example of this kind of journalism is BuzzFeed, a website that has gained huge audience attention and is one of the most popular news sites in the world. In viral news the focus is not on the news narrative, but in the news presentation and distribution. The aim of this paper is to give an insight into this new form of journalism: one that is created to attract attention, that is spreadable via social media and that requires user interaction to fulfi l the news distribution process. This new form of news embraces the dynamics and popularisation of the social media and user’s role in sharing and distributing the content (making it viral), but also creates the interactive, interconnected, emotional, interesting, and immediate content that can gain viral effect. In order to explain and distinguish this form of journalism, the purpose of this paper is to examine “a four quadrant map,” introduced by Boczkowski and Siles, as a life cycle of media technologies. Through four relatively distinct quadrants: production/content, consumption/content, production/ materiality, consumption/materiality, the changes brought by social media and new technologies called ‘viral journalism’ are explained in this article.

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