Revista Latina

Referees' reports - 2010

Reports on the article:

The article Information Sources in the Spanish Social Media During the “Three days of March” (11-13 March 2004) addresses the communication policies used during the critical period between the Islamist bombings in Madrid on 11 March 2004 and the holding of legislative elections, three days later.

This is an episode that has been repeatedly addressed in communication studies. However, this article is supported by an original and well assessed hypothesis: the role -protagonist or subordinated- of the “social media” (blogs or forums) in comparison to other media institutionalized and consolidated as sources of information and valuation for the public sphere. This hypothesis is worked through a structured analysis, which details the theoretical and methodological foundation, the corpus of study (and its difficulties of access and treatment), the qualitative content analysis, and the conclusions/results.

The study defines clearly the logics of framing, thematization, agenda-setting, and social amplification of the media discourse. In this sense, it constitutes a relevant case study that fits other conclusions previously expressed by various authors (Toral and Madariaga, Sampedro, LópezGarcía), and enriches the state of an investigation that is increasingly nourished, and interested in the systematic analysis of the 11-14 March events as a multimedia communicative phenomenon, which intertwined the traditional media, the strategies linked to the hierarchy of information, and the interactivity of networks and mechanisms of social mobilization.

Perhaps the article is missing a diachronic reflection that fairly values the historical characteristics of the “social media” in view of the specificity of the situation in 2004. Such reflection should have considered firstly the still “formative or embryonic” character of such media in that particular context, for example in comparison with the “relative maturity” that can be observed in 2010. Similarly, perhaps the author should have emphasized more other interrelation lines opposing the ones addressed here, such as those that linked these networks -understood as mechanisms for mobilization, and, therefore, as producers of information- in comparison to the traditional media, especially during the afternoon/night of 13 March.

These observations do not tarnish, in any case, the objective quality of the work, something that justifies its possible publication in RLCS. – José Carlos Rueda Laffond, Ph.D. – Full Professor at the Faculty of Information Sciences, Complutense University of Madrid.

The article can be published once it has taken into account the observations previously made.

Firstly I would like to congratulate the author of this article for the laborious work of collecting the news circulated during the three days previous to the elections of March 2004. There is no doubt that it has been a hard job, taking into account, also, the limitations that the author has faced to undertake the content analysis given that the digital versions of traditional media are difficult to analyse due to their “changing nature and the lack of systematic archival”.
This investigation defines correctly the objective (“to try to clarify the effects that the media discourses had on society, in this case, through the social media”) and the methodology used (content analysis). Three traditional media were chosen (CadenaSer, El Mundo and El País) based on the fact that they were “the three media that based on audience level and leadership had a remarkable role in the agenda setting in these three days”.

I fully agree with the author that something interesting to deal with in this research would be to know how bloggers conceived their task during the three days prior to the 14 March elections and to know, in their own words, how they reacted to the news that circulated across many Spanish blogs on these days. And this is done based on the results of a previous work of interview to bloggers.

Regarding the results section, I only would like to praise the work of the author to scrutinize the entire narrative of the news presented during the days prior to the 11 March based, fundamentally, on the audio archives of Cadena Ser, and complemented with the printed and digital versions of El País and El Mundo.

And the conclusions, although they still seem many in my opinion, have been reformulated. – KoldoMeso, Ph.D. - University of the Basque Country, UPV - UHU.

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