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Title: The subfield of online journalism : a study of the legitimizing practices of online news organizations
Author: Brooks, Gillian
ISNI:       0000 0004 6056 9362
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2016
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Traditional news organizations exist within an apparatus of accountability, held together by their reputation and the professionalization of the occupation of journalism. Legitimacy in journalism has solidified over time; but with the emergence of online media, traditional journalistic standards have been challenged as online news organizations attempt to establish a new standard. This study explores the changing nature of journalism as a space of contested power relations and networked communities, focusing specifically on how online news organizations, born digitally, become legitimate. Based on close to 200 hours of interviews conducted over a period of six months at prominent online news organizations in the United States, this dissertation seeks to identify the manner in which online news organizations, specifically, The Drudge Report, and The Huffington Post, gain legitimacy in the subfield of online journalism. There exists a unique structured space internal to the subfield of online journalism – a subfield of practices and power relations – with online organizations accumulating varying degrees of social capital in order to legitimize their role within this evolving ecology. In relying on Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of the field, Mark Suchman’s work on organizational legitimacy, and Anand Narasimhan and Mary Watson’s work on field formation, this study outlines the conditions under which certain online news organizations can participate and gain legitimacy in this emerging subfield. I argue that three characteristics determine whether an online news organization can be considered legitimate; in analyzing these characteristics, I demonstrate how they help to create legitimacy in specific cases. If media scholars are to understand how online news organizations have emerged in recent years and become a key source for information, an interrogation of this unique space, in all of its complexities, is essential.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral