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Criticising Journalism: Popular Media Criticism in the Digital Age
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Geography, Media and Communication (from 2013). (NODE)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4774-4643
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Today, in a variety of digital spaces, many critics and criticisms of the media exist side by side with journalistic actors and content. This dissertation explores the complex relationships between criticisms and actors who define journalistic practice and accountability of the media. The main theoretical argument is that scholars thinking about the ways journalistic actors legitimise criticisms should consider the discursive positioning of the critic (motives and expectations), the evaluative issues (subjects of criticism), corrective (re)action (what journalists do after criticism) and finally, the digital resource (the input of digital technologies and their logics). To interrogate this theoretical proposition, the study employs qualitative interviews with 57 respondents—journalists, media accountability agents and critics—in Kenya and South Africa, and offers a comparison of the two contexts.

The results show that for journalists to navigate critical discourses in a digital discursive ecology, they a.) identify the most prominent critics in digital spaces, who play an expository role – acting as interpreters to discourses and buffer against incivility, and b.) they mostly employ delegitimising activities that mark professional boundary work in digital spaces, for example, through blocking offensive criticisms and actors from their personal spaces. The digital discursive ecology in which these discourses exists present tensions to professionalism that challenge journalistic authority. Journalists are pushed to conform to the logics of digital spaces, and further social actors online impose their norms on journalistic discourse. In general, the findings show journalistic ambivalence towards digital media critics, as well as a measured engagement with criticisms considered legitimate. There is a nascent discursive struggle among journalists and critics in digital spaces, whose results are overt or subtle corrective (re)actions among journalists that suggest transformed practice. This research contributes to the field of journalism by providing nuance to configurations that exist between journalistic actors and digital media critics as a result of the constant production of metajournalistic discourse in digital spaces today.

Abstract [en]

Does criticism in digital spaces matter to journalism? Legacy news media face intense criticism on social networks or blogs, while their accountability towards the public is weak. This dissertation explores the contribution of digital media critics and their criticisms to journalism, through qualitative interviews with journalists, critics and media accountability agents. The main findings show how journalists negotiate a variety of criticisms (from the rational to the uncivil) and critics (with varying expertise and influence) in digital spaces. The study is relevant today because digitality complicates the journalist-critic relationship as critical text from the public circulate in the same universe as journalistic text. What this means is that journalists must find new ways to cope with the logics of digital platforms, such as social networks and blogs. At the same time, news professionals must respond to pressure to conform to social norms such as equity in gender representation in the news, that comes through, for example, hashtag campaigns on social networks.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2019. , p. 277
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2019:29
Keywords [en]
Digital media criticism, journalistic practice, media accountability metajournalistic discourse
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-74833ISBN: 978-91-7867-053-6 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7867-063-5 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-74833DiVA, id: diva2:1353724
Public defence
2019-10-25, 11D 121 Andersalen, Universitetsgatan 2, 651 88, Karlstad, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-10-04 Created: 2019-09-24 Last updated: 2019-10-04Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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Output format
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