Existential crisis? UK journalists make sense of their professional practice

SUBRYAN, Mark (2020). Existential crisis? UK journalists make sense of their professional practice. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

Subryan_2021_PhD_ExistentialCrisisUK.pdf - Accepted Version
Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (23MB) | Preview
Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00387


The digital landscape has had some of the most profound impacts on the journalism profession. Social media has bridged the gap between journalists and audiences. Online journalism has led to rounds of downsizing, slowed hiring processes, and corporate mandates for immediate publication that challenge the traditional perspectives of journalists. Added to this are several 21st century controversies, such as the phone hacking scandal and criticism of journalism’s responses to tragedies, it is evident that UK journalists face significant challenges to their practice. This research aims to understand how journalists make sense of their daily professional lives amid contemporary challenges to practice. Specifically, it investigates what journalists believe they do on a daily basis, how they view their readers, and how they defend themselves against allegations of unethical practice. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 19 journalists who represented a broad cross-section of practitioners in the UK. These journalists came from the national tabloid, regional, and freelance sectors of the UK journalism landscape. A thematic analysis revealed that journalists still articulate knowledge claims of their field based on traditional epistemic values attached to western democratic ideals despite challenges from the digital landscape revealing a different reality. Audiences have become commodified, which has furnished journalists with an ambivalent outlook on their readers. Contrary to public perceptions of what is morally challenging, journalists see assignments that push ethical boundaries as a normal part of their practice. The results highlighted three ways in which journalists make sense of their practice in the contemporary era: judgment, which plays an important role in newsmaking decisions, ethical practices, and storytelling; traditional epistemic views to make articulated knowledge claims about practice, and; validation of practice, their identity, and to emphasise the value they bring to journalism that is based on their articulated knowledge, informed traditions, and shared repertoire of knowledge.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Clarke, David [0000-0002-6604-9419]
Thesis advisor - Doherty, Kathy
Thesis advisor - Canter, Lily [0000-0001-5708-2420]
Additional Information: Director of studies: Dr. David Clarke / Thesis Supervisors: Dr. Kathy Doherty and Dr. Lily Canter. "No PQ harvesting"
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00387
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2021 14:28
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:07
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/29041

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics