Researching Journalism: issues and agendas for the digital age


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Journalism is the key cultural form of our time, essential to the democratic process, embedded in the organisation and management of everyday life, a rich source of entertainment and leisure. The newspaper is in decline, but the appetite for news, and commentary on news, has never been greater, serviced today in a media environment increasingly dominated by online platforms. The rapidly changing nature of this environment presents huge challenges, as well as opportunities, for journalists, news organisation, and journalism researchers. How, for example, to engage with and understand the impact of social networking on journalism, or the cultural chaos unleashed by Wikileaks? How to define even what journalism is anymore, when news coexists with so many hybrid forms, and the professional journalist is increasingly challenged by the content-generating user?

In this lecture Brian McNair will present his assessment of the key issues and agendas for journalism researchers in 2011. What do we need to know about journalism and its evolving relationship to societies which are digitised, networked, globalised as never before? What contribution can the scholar make to the maintenance and regulation of 'quality' journalism in contexts where economics, technology and politics may threaten it? What is 'quality' journalism, indeed?

Drawing on nearly three decades as a journalism scholar, and an extensive portfolio of research and publication in the field, Professor McNair will seek to identify the key research questions facing journalism scholars in Australia and overseas, and the emerging methodologies being developed to answer them.

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Researching Journalism: issues and agendas for the digital age

  1. 1. Researching journalism in the digital age<br />Brian McNair<br />Professor of Journalism, Media & Communication<br />
  2. 2. The expansion of journalism<br />
  3. 3. Images of the Enemy<br />The 80s were polarised times, during which the implicit political divide embodied by the cold war was firmed up by arguably the most ideologically driven government Britain has ever seen.(Guardian)<br />
  4. 4. Dominance/control paradigm<br />Elite control and dominance of media and other cultural institutions produce ‘consensus’ and support for status quo<br />Predictable outcomes (social stability) based on vertically hierarchical control of information<br />
  5. 5. The propaganda model<br />‘Brainwashing under freedom’<br />
  6. 6. Glasgow University Media Group<br />
  7. 7. The New Cold War<br />
  8. 8. Images of the Enemy<br />
  9. 9. The Korean Airlines Shoot-down<br />‘a terrorist act’<br />
  10. 10. Images of the Enemy<br />
  11. 11. Moscow, 1985-86<br />
  12. 12. Intimations of chaos - Chernobyl<br />
  13. 13. The Fall of the Wall & the End of the Soviet<br />
  14. 14. Glasnost, Perestroika & the Soviet Media<br />
  15. 15. Chaos/competitive paradigm<br />Elites compete with non-elites for access to and impact on the globalised public sphere, which constantly evolves, changing with each iteration of the cycle<br />The evolution of the system<br />cannot be forecast with <br />certainty<br />
  16. 16. Monica-gate<br />
  17. 17. 9/11<br />
  18. 18. Stormy Weather<br />
  19. 19. Cultural Chaos<br />
  20. 20. From control to chaos<br /> <br />Acceleration of information flow (technological)<br /> <br />Proliferation of information sources (technological)<br /> <br />Dissolution of producer-consumer boundary (cultural)<br /> <br />Loss of elite control (political)<br /> <br />Collapse of 20th century media business models (economic)<br />
  21. 21. GM Crops<br />“Parts of the media have conducted such an extraordinary campaign of distortion, it is hard to know where to begin. Anyone who has dared to raise even the smallest hand in protest is accused of being either corrupt or a Dr Strangelove”(Tony Blair, 1999)<br />
  22. 22. Autism in the news<br />MMR<br />Health scare or cause for concern?<br />
  23. 23. The MMR scare<br />Coverage clearly shaped the way many people understood the issue, and appears to have led to a loss of confidence in the vaccine in Britain<br />
  24. 24. Chaos in the Middle East<br />The instantaneous nature of how social media communicate self-broadcast ideas, unlimited by publication deadlines and broadcast news slots, explains in part the speed at which these revolutions have unravelled, their almost viral spread across a region. It explains too, the often loose and non-hierarchical organisation of the protest movements unconsciously modelled on the networks of the web.(Peter Beaumont, February 25 2011)<br />
  25. 25. An Introduction To Political Communication<br />
  26. 26. An Introduction To Political Communication<br />
  27. 27. An Introduction To Political Communication<br />
  28. 28. An Introduction To Political Communication<br />
  29. 29. An Introduction To Political Communication<br />
  30. 30. An Introduction To Political Communication<br />