How social media and technology are challenging journalists’ perceptions of their role

Authors: Jukes, S.

Journal: Interactions: Studies in Communication & Culture

Volume: 10

Issue: 1-2

Pages: 111-127

Publisher: Intellect

ISSN: 1757-2681

Professional ideology and newsroom culture have become deeply embedded and codified in Anglo-American journalism since the late 19th Century. Despite constant questioning by professionals and scholars alike, they have remained remarkably stable, resisting the repeated challenge of technological, societal and cultural change ranging from the groundbreaking introduction of radio and television to the ‘New Journalism’ of the 1960s & 70s and the birth of the Internet. The antagonism between professional journalists and the boundaries they are erecting to distinguish themselves from ‘citizen journalists’, or those they regard as ‘amateurs,’ is arguably reinforcing existing ideology. There are also clear signs that media outlets are unwilling to give up their traditional ‘gate keeping’ role. But are there other disruptive factors ushered in by the social media revolution that may finally lead to a breakdown of these norms? Using a qualitative research methodology involving in-depth interviews with journalists from leading established news outlets, this paper examines two changes to practice now becoming commonplace in the newsroom. Firstly, it explores the growing requirement for journalists to use Twitter and other social media tools to promote their own news output or their news organisation; and secondly it examines the introduction of social media ‘hubs’ in which journalists trawl the Internet for user-generated content to complement their own. To what extent are these two developments changing journalists’ perception of their role and the culture of the newsroom? And is the broadly consensual view of their professional ideology becoming more diffuse?

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