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Journalists' professional identity


Grubenmann, Stephanie; Meckel, Miriam (2015). Journalists' professional identity. Journalism Studies:1-17.

Abstract

The internet, and particularly social media, have brought far-reaching change to journalism by calling into question how journalists’ traditional roles are perceived. We introduce social identity theory (Tajfel and Turner 1986) ― specifically the concept of professional identity ― as a complementary approach to study journalistic role conceptions from a dynamic perspective. Building on existing findings in both research streams (professional identity and journalistic role conceptions), we undertook a qualitative study to explore the interplay between journalists’ role perceptions, core values of journalism, and ongoing change in the industry. Our analysis of 26 interviews conducted in a Swiss newsroom provided an affirmative answer to the question whether journalists’ professional identity serves as a resource that helps them cope with uncertainty. By identifying different identity negotiation mechanisms we illustrate journalists’ sensemaking of developments in their work environment. We show that journalists who rely on an elitist, traditional role concept construct online journalism as a threat to quality journalism and journalists’ personal status. Another group of journalists with more service-oriented and solutions-oriented role concepts strives to improve newspaper’s online journalism. These journalists engage in creating new, adapted role scripts and value definitions.

Abstract

The internet, and particularly social media, have brought far-reaching change to journalism by calling into question how journalists’ traditional roles are perceived. We introduce social identity theory (Tajfel and Turner 1986) ― specifically the concept of professional identity ― as a complementary approach to study journalistic role conceptions from a dynamic perspective. Building on existing findings in both research streams (professional identity and journalistic role conceptions), we undertook a qualitative study to explore the interplay between journalists’ role perceptions, core values of journalism, and ongoing change in the industry. Our analysis of 26 interviews conducted in a Swiss newsroom provided an affirmative answer to the question whether journalists’ professional identity serves as a resource that helps them cope with uncertainty. By identifying different identity negotiation mechanisms we illustrate journalists’ sensemaking of developments in their work environment. We show that journalists who rely on an elitist, traditional role concept construct online journalism as a threat to quality journalism and journalists’ personal status. Another group of journalists with more service-oriented and solutions-oriented role concepts strives to improve newspaper’s online journalism. These journalists engage in creating new, adapted role scripts and value definitions.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:03 Jun 2016 08:42
Last Modified:14 Feb 2018 11:27
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1461-670X
Additional Information:This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in [include the complete citation information for the final version of the article as published in the Journalism Studies 2016 copyright Taylor & Francis, available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/ Article DOI: 10.1080/1461670X.2015.1087812.
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/1461670X.2015.1087812
Related URLs:http://www.zora.uzh.ch/124271/

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