“We Are the Media”: Enabling Media Citizenship
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of the West of Scotland
Unit of AssessmentCommunication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management
Summary Impact TypeCultural
Research Subject Area(s)
Studies In Human Society: Sociology
Studies In Creative Arts and Writing: Journalism and Professional Writing
Language, Communication and Culture: Communication and Media Studies
Summary of the impact
Research from the Creative Futures Institute (CFi) has generated original
understandings of how social media has triggered change within the
practice of journalism. The evidence shows how findings from 3
inter-related projects were a catalyst for skills development and
generated new contributions to civil society and the creative community.
Impact is demonstrated across 15 organisations where new community media
collectives were developed around the Vancouver 2010 Olympics (W2 Centre
& True North Media House) and London 2012 Olympics (#media2012 &
#CitizenRelay). UWS research led these organisations to invest £115,000
additional funds and implement these findings in their current work.
Researchers at UWS analysed the processes of news production, the
findings of which articulate a shift in the relationship between citizens,
institutions, and the professional media. These discoveries have led
organisations to change their orientation towards society, become media
producers, build their community, and influence how the professional media
Investigating new types of journalism at mega-events
Between 2008 and 2010 Prof Miah (appointed 2002-present) worked
with Dr Beatriz Garcia (University of Liverpool) and Dr Tina Zhihui
(Communication University of China) to study the use of `alternative
media' at the Olympics , continuing Miah's early Games
research from Salt Lake City 2002 to Beijing 2008. The primary output of
this was the first comprehensive overview of non- traditional media
coverage at the Games. Findings revealed how `citizen journalists' were
gradually occupying the places that were typically reserved for
professional reporters. The research examined changes in the kinds of
reporting that takes place, as a result, and the transformation in
people's perceptions of the media elite that it provokes.
The challenge of citizen journalism to standard media narratives
Subsequently, Miah carried out deeper studies into the narratives
of citizen journalists at mega-events, in collaboration with Prof
McGillivray (appointed 2010-present)  and with support
from CFi PhD student Ana Adi (2007-2010) . Prof McGillivray's 
wider work with Prof McPherson and UWS Executive Dean Prof
Foley also informed the research into the role of mega-events within
society, as vehicles of contested social change and tools for re-examining
cultural and media policy. Together, these investigations focused on how
citizen-led stories challenge the narratives of traditional media and
create new opportunities for citizens to engage with socio-political and
cultural discussions. Moreover, they found that the journalism of citizens
during the Olympic Games are key drivers of political and social issues.
Their findings note how such journalism disrupts the otherwise highly
controlled Olympic environment. Furthermore, it reveals how such
interventions play a crucial part in articulating the wider social
anxieties that are created by the imposition of mega-events on society;
such as by drawing attention to injustices or political compromises in the
process of hosting such events.
New expertise in journalism
Alongside this work, between 2009 and 2010 Ewan Crawford
(appointed 2004-present) , Dr Robertson (appointed
1984-present) and Dr Elizabeth McLaughlin (appointed 2010) studied
the effect of social media on changes in media practice. Crawford
examined concepts of expertise in online newspaper opinion pages; his
findings explain the emergence of a new kind of democracy emerging as a
result of this media change.
Robertson and McLaughlin's  research into
political blogs show how social media brought into question the role of
experts. This analysis demonstrates that social media gives experts their
own platforms for broadcasting, where previously they may have been
restricted to promotion via a media organisation's own platform. In a
world where everyone has their own broadcast channel, the research shows
how claims over what counts as expertise become more contested,
fragmented, and consequently, more democratised.
References to the research
1. Miah, A. Garcia, B. and Zhihui, T. (2008). We Are the Media:
Alternative Voices and Non-Accredited Media at the Olympic Games. In
Dayan, D. and Price, M. Owning the Olympics:
Narratives of the New China. University of Michigan Press pp.320-345.
Subsequently, Miah was invited to speak at the Canadian new media
industry conference Northern Voice (2009), detailing his work on how
online activism was utilised around Beijing 2008 (Adi & Miah 2011).
This talk reached the new media elite in Vancouver and laid the ground
work for the 2010 impact. His later published book `The Olympics'
(Routledge) was translated into Russian in 2013 by the Russian
International Olympic University (a sport management training
organisation), one of only two books to be chosen. The previous year,
the book selection was of Baron Pierre de Coubertin's memoirs (founder
of the modern Olympic movement).
2. McGillivray, D. & Jones, J (2013) Events and Resistance,
In: R.Finkel., D.McGillivray., G. McPherson and P. Robinson (eds) Research
Themes for Events, Oxon: CABI. This article describes the work surrounding
the #CitizenRelay project, one of the major projects of our impact during
3. Adi, A. and Miah, A. (2011) Open Source Protest: Rights,
Online Activism and the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. In Cottle, S. and
Lester, L. Transnational Protest and the Media. Peter Lang. pp213-224.
This work builds on the research around Beijing and explains in detail how
non-sporting journalism affects the media narratives around the Olympics.
4. McGillivray, D. (2013). Digital Cultures, Acceleration, and
Mega Sporting Event Narratives, Leisure Studies, 1-14. doi:
5. Crawford, E. (2009). A new sort of democracy: the opinion
pages in the Scottish daily quality press, Journalism 10(4) 451-472. doi:
6. Robertson, J. & McLaughlin, E. (2010). The Quality of
Discussion on the Economy in UK Political Blogs in 2008, Parliamentary
Affairs, 64(1), 2011, 106-128. doi: 10.1093/pa/gsq014.
Note: UWS REF researchers in bold, underlined for non-REF
UWS staff. All publications are available on request from the HEI.
References - are in peer-reviewed journals supported by
international editorial advisory board of experts in the field.
Key grants and funding
2005-2007: British Academy, research into the Non-Accredited Media at the
Torino 2006 and Beijing 2008 Olympic Games £7740 (Miah &
2011-2012: Creative Scotland funding for Citizen Relay £15,000 (McGillivray)
2011-2013: Creative Scotland funding for London 2012 Cultural Programme
Impact Study £40,000 (McGillivray & McPherson)
2013: Big Lottery Fund awarded £167,977 to the Digital Commonwealth
project, led by Professor McGillivray
Details of the impact
Our research insights into new forms of journalism were a catalyst for
impact across three projects. In each, detailed below, the impact was
realised through building relationships with media professionals, social
media entrepreneurs, citizens, and journalists. Combined, they evidence
the impact of our research on (citizen) journalism.
Changing media practice - establishing an independent citizen media
centre (Vancouver 2010)
Following our insights into citizen journalism at the Beijing 2008
Olympics , our researchers were brought to Vancouver and
inspired the CEO of Vancouver's W2 Centre and other leading media
professionals to develop two bespoke media communities to apply our
research findings and champion citizen journalism as a civic contribution
to the Games [A].
This initial collaboration received £50,000 investment from the London
2012 Cultural Olympiad [B, D], which enabled three senior creative
programmers for London 2012 (South West, Scotland, and North West) and two
technical producers (from TenantSpin) to travel to Vancouver 2010 and
produce, curate, and deliver "the world's first independent social
media centre for the Olympics" (Mayor of Vancouver) [A].
Without Miah's research findings, these collaborations and subsequent
activities would not have taken place.
Changing media practice — establishing a citizen journalism network
This new partnership between Vancouver and London led the collaborators to
invest into Miah's proposal to create a nationwide citizen
journalist network for the London Olympics, dubbed #media2012 [D, E].
Miah's research argues that this was the next step for citizen
journalism, to fulfil its civic role . Numerous arts
organisations, including Cornerhouse (Manchester), FACT (Liverpool) and
Watershed (Bristol), strategised for two years before London 2012, to plan
citizen media activity. This work developed social media skills in
community media organisations, which would contribute to realising what Miah
argues as a crucial mechanism for democratising participation through
mega-events, so as to empower citizens .
The long-term impact of this project is evidenced in the work of Russia's
`SochiReporter', which has taken forward these principles ahead of the
Sochi 2014 Olympics [C] and Miah's appointment as mentor
for the IOC Young Reporters Programme, which aims to enhance the economic
benefits of the Olympic Games by developing the skills of novice
reporters. During 2012, #media2012 also influenced the work of an artist
who created a painted/montage visual artwork symbolising its contribution
Out of the #media2012 collaborations, McGillivray developed
#CitizenRelay (#CR), which drew on findings [1, 2, 4] to create a
participatory media project funded by Creative Scotland [F]. #CR
built a structure within which individuals and unofficial organisations
across Scotland could develop journalism skills. The impact of this was
considerable, with #CR participants generating 20,000+ online visits
during the Relay's week-long stay in Scotland. The production team
produced 207 three-minute podcasts, over 100 YouTube videos, 805 Flickr
photos, and 350 Instagram images (see http://www.citizenrelay.net).
The consequence of this activity was a greater degree of participation and
the creation of an alternative lens through which people could make sense
of the Olympic programme. [I].
#CR developed new forms of media coverage and embedded the use of social
media into media organisations. For example, the Camglen Radio station
indicated how #CR "was a milestone for us - cementing our ability to
broadcast live programming from various locations within the communities
that Camglen is set up to serve" [G]. #CR also influenced
MediaTrustUK (funded by Big Lottery), helping to raise its profile in
Scotland and meeting "a central policy objective of increasing our
reach and establishing links with hyperlocal sites". MediaTrustUK's
director described "#CR as `a model for engagement....a project model
that will act as a key reference point for future thinking." [H]
#CR also had an impact on large media producers, notably Scottish
Television, who recognised: "there is no doubt that the extent and
depth of the updates provided via the #citizenrelay project helped to
provide a better quality of coverage to our readers' and how it `helped
to inform our thinking about how we cover other subsequent mass
participation events" [J]
The project was reported by the BBC, the Guardian Datablog and STV local.
McGillivray also worked with the National Libraries of Scotland and
The National Archives to develop good practice guidelines for archiving
multimedia resources. The project's community is now actively engaged in
delivering a legacy project for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games,
funded by The Big Lottery (£168,000) to create a `Digital Commonwealth'.
Sources to corroborate the impact
A. Feature length movie With Glowing Hearts (2010). The movie was
shot in Vancouver by Animal Films production during and leading up to
the Olympics. It describes the work of the Olympic social media
community. Professor Miah features in the film
along with the collaborators developed at the Northern Voice event in
2009 (notably the CEO of Bryght Studios and innovation leader at
Hootsuite). Trailer online at
Full movie available on request. The quote from the Mayor of Vancouver
is within the trailer, as is Miah's voice. The
movie has been screened at numerous film festivals worldwide.
B. North West London 2012 Cultural Olympiad programme.
This final programme for the North West Cultural Olympid foregrounds
the #media2012 partnership in its opening page. #media2012 was the
principal reporting community for the North West and became involved
with a series of other cultural activities.
C. Testimonial from CEO of Sochi Reporter and #media2012 feature article
in the official Sochi 2014 Olympic magazine. This official translated
the entire #media2012 Charter into Russian, a document that outlines the
values of the project and describes, for the first time, a code of
ethics for citizen journalism.
D. #media2012 documentation, which indicates financial investment,
meeting programmes, overview of activities, reference to the IOC's Olympic
Review, and the visual art work created in honour of the project's
contribution to civil society. The project received a London 2012
PODIUM Bronze medal for its `creative and cultural' achievements which
were principally in engaging citizens in social media journalism. It was
also shortlisted for a Coubertin award (from a field of over 200), for
how it reinforced the Olympic values within civil society, as a project
interested in critical dialogue.
E. #media2012 Charter. This document explains the basis for the
collaboration and the values of the project, while also evidencing the
aspirations and the achievements of the organisations involved with the
network. In so doing, it evidences the organisations involved as its
F. Statement from London 2012 Creative Programmer for Scotland, who is
also the arts officer of Creative Scotland. She said about
#CitizenRelay "It was also something beyond our skills and experience,
Citizen Relay invested in and trained over 60 reporters, who then in
turn trained others, in addition to this, the London 2012 team in
Creative Scotland benefited from watching Citizen Relay grow and bubble
G. Statement from Producer of Camglen Radio about #CitizenRelay said
"Camglen Radio's involvement [with CitizenRelay] was a milestone for us
— cementing our ability to broadcast from various locations within the
communities Camglen is set up to serve."
H. Statement from Director, MediaTrustUK about #CitizenRelay
I. #CitizenRelay documentation, indicating impact statistics, online
impact, impact on media and other partners.
J. Statement from Community Editor, STV about #CitizenRelay