A comparative analysis of economic, professional, and simbolic crises
The digital-cum-economic crisis facing Western journalism differs in subtle but significant ways from country to country, and fierce struggles play out between different parties over how to interpret the situation and how to confront it. This chapter presents a comparative analysis of how journalists, media executives, and media policymakers in six different Western democracies (Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, and the US) employ three distinctive frameworks to interpret the state of professional journalism in their country. The first is an economic frame that defines the crisis of professional journalism in existential terms; the second focuses on the weaknesses of the professional model itself; the third defines the crisis in symbolic terms, as a morally problematic relation among journalists, citizens, and power holders. These three crisis frameworks raise different questions for journalists, media executives, and media policymakers. The economic question is “Will journalism survive?” The professional question is “What is journalism?” The symbolic question is “What is the status of journalism in society?” On the basis of almost one hundred interviews, as well as secondary sources from trade publications and other media, the chapter reveals how answers to these questions differs from country to country, how the forms of argument are combined in distinctive ways, and how different kinds of evidence are mobilized. Particular constructions of the crisis range from economically and professionally relatively robust countries like Finland and Germany, where symbolic issues loom large; to countries like the US, where economic, professional, and symbolic crises seem to coincide -- and are interpreted in large part through the lens of technology; to countries like France, Italy, and the UK, where crises are seen to coincide but where the roots of crises are seen as predating the rise of the internet and the erosion of existing business models for journalism. Each interpretation of the crisis in Western journalism points to different solutions, from appeals to state intervention in several European countries to calls for pay walls and deregulation in the US.
Main Research Area:
The Crisis of Journalism Reconsidered: Cultural Power, 2014