How online journalism has influenced the journalistic 'ecosystem': Estonian example
The study of journalism production needs revisiting, as multiple variables that determine how journalistic content was produced, distributed, and consumed, have changed. Though production is just one component of the journalistic ‘ecosystem’, it holds a key position in binding together all the aforementioned. My PhD thesis aims to analyse the influence of online journalism on journalism culture, namely production. The research comprises three theoretical fields: political economy of the media; information processing; journalism as a profession.
Critical political economy refers to approaches that place emphasis on the unequal distribution of power and are critical of arrangements whereby such inequalities are sustained and reproduced (Hardy 2014: 6). The scarcity of resources and the impact of information society change the scene for journalism practice (McChesney, 1998; Küng, Picard&Towse, 2008; Deuze, 2009).
Informationalism in the post-industrial approach is seen as the elevated presence and significance of information, which entails complexity in the information processing. It has been referred as ‘information economy’ (Bell, 1979; Toffler, 1980), but lately more often as ‘network economy’ (Castells, 1996; Bell, 2001; Tonkiss, 2006; Van Dijk, 2006). Therefore the discussion over the core journalistic skills of information processing becomes ever more relevant.
The historical development of the journalistic profession and journalistic text formats has always been related to resources and technological change. The end of 20th century and beginning of the 21st century has challenged the profession in many aspects, including convergence and the many-to-many model of distribution, but also in external factors such as economic recession, and competences of information processing in the context of changed technologies (Høyer&Lauk, 2003; Hanitzsch, 2007; Hanitzsch et al, 2011; Boczkowski, Mitchelstein&Walter, 2011). Therefore analysis of the current situation in journalism culture needs to address journalism on the institutional and organisational level, but also on the individual level as well.
My research is based on the Estonian media market. The change that came with online journalism has transformed both the Estonian journalism practice and the media landscape in various ways similar to many countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Thus, my research is focused on the changing of the Estonian journalistic ‘ecosystem’, but at the same time is comparable to a number of other CEE countries. I have combined quantitative and qualitative methods, and am currently seeking advice on how to incorporate the three theoretical and empirical directions into the comprehensive unit of a PhD thesis.
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