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An elixir of life' Emotional labour in cultural journalism

Research paper by Johana Kotisova

Indexed on: 05 May '20Published on: 29 Apr '20Published in: Journalism



Abstract

Journalism, Ahead of Print. Recent technological and institutional changes in journalism are believed to have dragged cultural journalism into a crisis. This article looks closely at one thing that makes the job of cultural journalists, in particular critics, distinct from other journalistic beats – the openly acknowledged importance of emotionality and subjectivity in these media workers’ professional practices – and explores the role of emotions in dealing with the crisis in the profession. Based on 14 semi-structured interviews with film and food critics, this article addresses the following questions: What emotional labour do the cultural critics perform' How does professional cultural criticism legitimize itself in the digital era' I suggest that both the film and food critics cherish the fact that their work processes draw heavily on their subjectivity: emotional experiences, political opinions and personal memories. However, to be able do their job, the critics cannot allow such elements of subjectivity to take the reins, and therefore, they perform emotional labour for the successful objectivization of their emotionality: making use of their emotions to better recognize what moments or aspects are significant for the assessment of the quality of the cultural object being reviewed. Furthermore, I suggest that in the context where digitalization has threatened the exceptional position of the professional cultural critic, emotional labour together with some other strategies of handling one’s subjectivity can help them to construct boundaries of professional cultural criticism and thus to reclaim professional legitimacy.