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Journalism meets management

A study of professional values
in Swedish news media

Journalism is often said to fulfill an important democratic function in society – a bearing fuction that most people do not what to be without. Yet this function is gradually being sidelined as news firms are struggeling for economic survival in an industry characterized by fierce competition and toughened financial demands.

Reorganizations, mergers, acquisitions, and similar processes of change sometimes lead to conflict when owners and management strive in one direction while professional journalists strive in another. What then arises is not only a negotiation between different groups in the news firm, but also a broader negotiation: namely, what news journalism really is and should be about. This research project aims at capturing the impact of this development and does so by examining how employees at the news organizations perceive common ideals, norms, and practices in professional journalism. Our focus is to study whether the values and motivations tend to differ between professional journalists and their managers. Furhtermore, we aim at clarifying the actual impact these perceptions may have on the daily work in the newsroom.

Our study takes of in the interaction between the professional discourse of journalists and the management discourse of editorial leaders in Swedish news firms. The professional discourse is here based on normative ideals of journalism´s role in democratic societies. The management discourse, on the other hand, rests on the trend of globalisation and business thinking within the labour market of journalism. The management disourse has implication at all levels in the news work and points towards an new kind of audience adaptation that increasingly focuses on the audience´s willingness to pay for news content rather than on journalistic visions.

Whit this study, we hope to bring new and deepened knowledge of how market mechanisms and shifts in leadership may affect the autonomy of professional journalism; more specifically, we hope to contribute to the vibrant discussion about the abilities contemporary journalism really has to fulfill its democratic mandate.

Project time: September 2014 to August 2016.

Project owners: PhD Jenny Wiik & PhD Ulrika Andersson

Page Manager: Mats Ekström|Last update: 11/26/2014

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