In journalism research, we are familiar with the arguments about the “blurring boundaries” of journalism. There have been calls for going “beyond” journalism or studying journalism “elsewhere” of the mainstream news organizations. This symposium will gather international researchers interested in forms and aspects of journalism that may be practiced by non-journalists: audiences, technologists, or entrepreneurs, for example, or journalism that is published in sites and platforms that go beyond the mainstream. The symposium will thus address the question of what happens in the fringes of the journalistic field (or in the neighboring fields) that we should be aware of in journalism research.
The symposium’s seminar day, Monday 17th, is open for anyone to attend or follow online.
If you come to on site to Tampere , please sign up here so we know how many cups of coffee we need.
The workshop day, Tuesday 18th, is a closed event but there are some places left for interested participants. If you want to join the workshop discussions, please contact laura.ahva(at)tuni.fi.
The symposium is organized by the Academy of Finland Research Fellow Project: The Future of Dispersed Journalism (https://www.tuni.fi/en/research/future-dispersed-journalism) and hosted by the Research Centre Comet at Tampere University, Finland (https://research.tuni.fi/comet-en/).
Mon 17th April
Day 1: JOURNALISM ELSEWHERE SEMINAR
Register for the on-site participation here.
Tampere University, Main building, Lecture Hall D11
Street address: Kalevantie 4, Tampere
For abstracts of the talks, scroll down to the bottom of the page.
9:00 Coffee served
9:30–9:45 Laura Ahva: Introduction and welcome
9:45–10:15 Wiebke Loosen: Moving Beyond Blurring Boundaries
10:15–10:45 Chris Anderson: Crafting a History of Digital Journalism: Beyond Social Science, Beyond Borders, Beyond the Textbook
10:45–11:15 Stefan Baack: Studying Journalism’s Outward Influences: The Case of Mozilla
11:15–11:45 Irene Costera Meijer: How Young People Experience Journalism Elsewhere… on TikTok.
12:30–14:00 Lunch break
14:00–14:30 Phoebe Maares: From Core to Periphery: A Non-Dichotomous Approach to Studying the Diversity of Journalism and Its Boundaries
14:30–15:00 Victor Wiard: Folk Theories of Alternative and Mainstream Journalism on Social Media
15:00–15:30 Florence Le Cam & Juliette De Maeyer: Conspiracy Theorists, Wannabe Journalists?
15:30–16:00 Karin Wahl-Jorgensen: Vernacular Journalism: Local News and Everyday Life
16:00–16:30 Discussion & wrap up
Tue 18th April
Day 2: WORKSHOP
Hybrid format: on-site is preferred but online participation is possible via Zoom (for invited participants only).
Tampere University, main building, Room E325 (Joutila)
9:00-10:00 Julius Reimer: Session 1: What, where and when?
Where “elsewhere” or “beyond” has journalism been studied in past 10 years, and on what kinds of topics, and with what kind of temporal orientation. Have we been able to make sense of the blurred boundaries?
10:00-11:00 Laura Ahva: Session 2: How, why and with what effect?
With what methods and how has journalism elsewhere been studied, and why has it been so? What have been the effects of these studies on research & practice?
11:00–11:15 Coffee break
11:15–12:15 David Domingo: Session 3: Where next?
Where should the study of journalism (beyond and elsewhere) go next, what is there still to be studied that cannot be found only in the major news organizations and their editorial offices?
12:15–13:00 Concluding discussion
The sessions feature a short introduction followed by discussion or exercises. If you are interested in joining the workshop on site, please contact laura.ahva(at)tuni.fi.
Wiebke Loosen: Moving at, between, and beyond (blurring) boundaries
The notion of the ”blurring boundaries” has become a flashy label to characterize the transformation of journalism in the last decades. In my talk, I will use this notion to reflect on my own research on, between, and beyond the boundaries of journalism along the transformation processes of digitization, datafication, and automation.
Chris Anderson: Crafting a History of Digital Journalism: Beyond Social Science, Beyond Borders, Beyond the Textbook
This talk reflects on very early-stage work in progress to write an accessible history of digital journalism. As indicated by the title, it interrogates the question of “journalism elsewhere” in three senses. First, it attempts to develop a structural and causal understanding of digital news that does not see “cause” in strictly social scientific terms. In this sense, the “elsewhere” is “outside the normal scope of today’s journalism studies.” Second, it tries to de-Americanize and de-Westernize this history, a complex task under the best of circumstances, but one that is essential for scholarship today. Third and finally, the format of the project is “elsewhere”; the hoped for output is certainly not a traditional monograph but also not a traditional “textbook” either. The project thus responds to a crisis in academic publishing that shares much in common with the crisis in journalism from a decade earlier.
Stefan Baack: Studying journalism’s outward influences: The case of Mozilla
Journalism studies has a tradition of examining the influence of non-journalistic actors on journalism, but much less attention has been paid to journalism’s outward influences beyond the impact of journalistic reporting. Technology companies, NGOs and other actors that (seek to) influence public communication have to position themselves in relation to an understanding of what journalism is (not). Studying this type of influence provides us with valuable insights into journalism’s evolving role and function in society.
We illustrate this point with a case study on Mozilla. Using interviews, we asked how Mozilla’s projects were shaped by particular ideas about journalism. Our findings show that Mozilla envisions ‘mission compatible’ journalism, and supporting this idea of journalism strengthens Mozilla’s own identity and guides its decision-making. Moreover, we argue that non-journalistic actors like Mozilla are a potential source of stability for professional journalism, as their practices are likely to reinforce rather ‘traditional’ notions of watchdog journalism. The presentation is based on co-authored work with David Cheruiyot (University of Groningen) and Raul Ferrer-Conill (University of Stavanger)
Irene Costera Meijer: How young people experience journalism elsewhere… on TikTok.
TikTok is one of the fastest-growing news sources for 18 to 24-year-olds: it reached around 40 % of this age group in 2022, with 15 % explicitly saying they used it for news (cf. Reuters DNR 2022). To reach younger audiences, news media have migrated to TikTok as well. Yet, they struggle with catching their attention, because conventional news formats do not always correspond with how young people use and experience social media platforms. At our symposium, I would like to discuss TikTok’s “code” and its implications for professional journalism. In February and March 2023, I will supervise 90 in-depth interviews with adolescents (ages 16-24) comprising various creative methods including WhatsApp diary, think-aloud protocols, ranking exercises, and the graphical reconstructing of their own “media day”. Aim of this project is to improve our understanding of how news organizations can stand out on TikTok with valuable journalism and be meaningful to young audiences.
Phoebe Maares: From Core to Periphery: A Non-Dichotomous Approach to Studying the Diversity of Journalism and Its Boundaries
The digital age enables anyone with an internet connection to fulfil some of journalism’s key functions like providing information and analysis. Here, political parties, companies, and many social media influencers are also increasingly providing products that are quite similar to journalism in appearance, content, and function. Research on these so-called peripheral actors has grown substantially, leading to a range of studies that approach them with concepts of core and periphery. However, such descriptions often assume a homogeneity that fails to account for the diversity of the journalistic field and its peripheral actors. Therefore, we still have an incomplete and, crucially, under-theorized understanding of the different kinds of constellations in which peripheral journalism may exist vis-à-vis the so-called core of the journalistic field. This talk proposes a non-dichotomous approach to study the diversity of journalism and its boundaries, drawing on field theory, boundary work, and established dimensions of journalistic peripherality. The presentation is based on co-authored work with Folker Hanusch (University of Vienna).
Victor Wiard: Folk theories of alternative and mainstream journalism on social media
The proliferation of fake news, opinion websites, and new content producers has pushed many individuals to question the very definition of what news is. In the context of the COVID pandemic, war in Ukraine, and other recent events many people have lost faith in public institutions, including mainstream media. In a world where, for some, legacy media has become ”fake news” and ”alternative media”, where are the boundaries of journalism and what is journalism elsewhere? The presentation is based on interviews with highly engaged social media users.
Juliette De Maeyer & Florence Le Cam: Conspiracy theorists, wannabe journalists?
Conspiracy theorists often view journalists as part of the so-called ”establishment” they relentlessly criticize. However, some conspiracy theorists maintain a troubled relationship with journalism: they attempt to access the professional space of journalism by trying to access professional identity markers such as press cards or accreditation for events. This talk will present two case studies of conspiracy theorists (one in Belgium and one in Quebec, Canada) who have actively sought to enter the professional jurisdiction of journalism by applying for a press card, or by seeking to participate in congresses of a professional association of journalists. By examining these critical incidents, we can see how the conspiracy theorists’ positioning as dissident journalists challenges professional journalistic identities – as they assert they possess a more professional pedigree than the journalists they denounce, while continuing to criticize the press as an institution.
Karin Wahl-Jorgensen: Vernacular journalism: Local news and everyday life
This talk is based on in-depth interviews with 57 local journalism entrepreneurs in the UK. It develops the idea that an emergent sector of small-scale local news organizations prioritizes a form of “vernacular journalism.” Driven by a democratic impulse, vernacular journalism reflects the preoccupations, experiences and histories of ordinary people and their communities, providing a vehicle for representation and voice which is often missing from more established news organizations. Vernacular journalism seeks to (1) make a difference in the local community, (2) represent the nature of the community, and (3) provide a “first draft” of the community’s history from the perspective of its inhabitants. The ability to provide such vernacular journalism is premised on knowledge of the local community, cultivated through long-standing presence. A vernacular journalism which reflects the world from the bottom up represents a unique selling point for local journalism, against the top-down orientation of larger regional and national outlets.