Renée van der Nat

Renée van der Nat has been a research associate at JournalismLab since 2015. Her research focuses on the relationship between journalism and its audiences. This relationship has changed fundamentally over the last decades. Audience expectations have shifted as people enjoy more agency in the construction and consumption of journalism. Practitioners react to these changes and explore new ways to engage news audiences. 

She’s also a lecturer at the Utrecht School for Journalism, where she focuses on courses involving research by design, practice-based research and multimedia storytelling. 

For her PhD (2017-2022), Renée scrutinised the changing dynamics between journalists and their audience for one particular journalistic genre – interactive narratives. To grasp the dynamics between journalists and their audience, she studied interactive journalistic narratives, production processes and audience reception. Results can be found here https://www.journalismlab.nl/onderzoek/interactieve-multimediale-verhalen-in-de-journalistiek


van der Nat, R., Bakker, P., & Müller, E. (2021). Snow Fall in de polder: Interactieve multimediale journalistieke producties in Nederland. Tijdschrift Voor Communicatiewetenschap, 49(2), 100-126. https://www.aup-online.com/content/journals/10.5117/TVC2021.2.002.NAT

van der Nat, R., Müller, E., & Bakker, P. (2021). Navigating Interactive Story Spaces. The Architecture of Interactive Narratives in Online Journalism. Digital Journalism, 1-26. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/21670811.2021.1960178

van der Nat, R., Bakker, P. & Müller, E. (forthcoming). The imagined user and the design of audience engagement. Tracing the imagined user in the production process of journalistic interactive narratives.

van der Nat, R., Bakker, P., & Müller, E. (forthcoming). Capturing audience engagement. How users respond to interactivity in journalistic narratives designed for audience engagement.

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The professorship conducts practice-oriented research into journalism in the Netherlands. This research is scientific in nature but always produces results that are of value for the daily work of the journalist. Our field of work covers the journalistic field ('production'), the journalistic product ('form and content') and the meaning & role of journalism in society ('effect'). The lectorate, formally called Quality Journalism in Digital Transition, conducts research into this new field of journalism, digitization and the challenges mentioned. As the name of our professorship also says, we look at this mainly from the perspective of the enormous change that our entire society and journalism in particular has been undergoing over the past twenty years and that has not yet crystallized: the digital transition.

Recent developments, in particular as a result of digitization, have completely unsettled both the principles and practice of journalism. Crucially, the role of the public has become much, much greater due to digitization, especially social media. 'Everyone' now appropriates the role of journalist and news increasingly finds channels other than that of journalism. Partly because of this, hard and soft news, objectivity and subjectivity, fact and fiction merge. Technology plays a growing role: news is often created or collected by robots; stories manipulated by so-called virtual reality. The latter goes so far that people in the picture can say something they never said (deep fake).

Digitization in particular is shaking journalism and presents media professionals with enormous challenges. The main aim of our research is to support the professional in the exercise of his profession. We assume that a modern society without high-quality journalism is unimaginable. There is always a need for reliable and independent information. Such information should be presented in an appealing manner. It must also remain within ethical limits to be defined in more detail.