Journalists in Search of Identity
Authors: Jukes, S.
It had once been relatively simple and coherent. By the 1930s, the discipline of journalism had been codified as a profession; stable values, principles and practices had been established across many diverse nations and cultures, particularly within the powerful and dominant Anglo-American news industry. But the recent period of social media disruption has fragmented that monolithic culture as the prevailing objectivity paradigm that captured many of journalism’s core values has been subjected to increasingly robust and virulent challenges. The result has been growing antagonism between many professional journalists fighting a rear-guard action to protect their boundaries and the ‘citizen journalists’, bloggers and purveyors of social media who maintain that traditional journalism is failing the public. That antagonism burst into the public spotlight following the tumultuous US election campaign that saw Donald Trump installed in the White House and the controversial UK referendum over membership of the European Union. Partisan and populist reporting of both campaigns and a furore over the phenomenon of ‘fake news’ have been accompanied by an unprecedented decline in public trust of traditional media organisations. This chapter explores how journalists today are searching for their identity in the face of these crosswinds. It analyses how social media is de facto changing practice on the ground and how this, in turn, is shifting journalists’ perceptions of their role and the culture of the newsroom. The once monolithic culture of news and the broadly consensual view of professional ideology is slowly but surely becoming more diffuse.