Paper: Creative retrieval practices of media professionals at IAMCR 2016

The first stage of the project is well underway, and so are the first insights! Sabrina Sauer will present insights about the creative retrieval practices of media professionals at the International Association for Media and Communication Research conference in Leicester this July.


Media professionals such as news editors, image researchers, and documentary filmmakers increasingly rely on online access to digital content within audiovisual archives to create stories (Huurnink, Hollink, and De Rijke). Seeking and finding audiovisual sources therefore requires an in-depth knowledge of how to find sources digitally. This paper presents qualitative research insights into how media professionals search and use digital archives to create (trans)medial narratives. In these storytelling practices, production cultures, search technologies and user ideas intertwine. The paper proposes to unravel the dynamics of story production, using the notion of creative retrieval. The term combines ideas from media studies about the effects of media convergence on media content (Erdal, “Researching Media Convergence and Crossmedia News Production – Mapping the Field”), theories about serendipitous information retrieval (Toms), and anthropological studies of creativity (Hallam and Ingold). The paper furthermore exemplifies an ongoing research project in which, to support creative retrieval by media professionals, a user-centered design approach guides the development of new search technologies: open source self-learning search algorithms.

This paper specifically highlights the role of user-technology interactions within the media production process. Research outcomes are theoretically and methodologically based on the recognition that a focus on media users is key to understand how media technologies gain shape and meaning. This view, developed by Science and Technology Studies (Oudshoorn and Pinch; Silverstone and Haddon), also forms the basis of the research’s qualitative user-centered design approach; media professionals are involved in co-design workshops and semi-structured interviews to better understand their search culture and to iteratively build new search algorithms that accommodate audiovisual storytelling needs.