Objects of journalism, revised: Rethinking materiality in journalism studies through emotion, culture and ‘unexpected objects’

Research paper by Rachel E. Moran, Nikki Usher

Indexed on: 10 Jan '21Published on: 29 Dec '20Published in: Journalism


Journalism, Ahead of Print. Despite attempts to reinvigorate studies of materiality in Journalism Studies, research has often failed to move beyond a narrow application of actor-network theory focused on the affordances of digital objects of journalism. As a result, journalism studies has missed a productive opportunity to consider the emotional, cultural and aesthetic potential of object-oriented study. This article makes the case for focusing on how objects of journalism are felt, experienced and are otherwise culturally situated. Drawing on cultural studies, we advocate for a rethinking of materialism to more expansively reckon with the affective and emotional dimensions of journalism. Further, we develop Schudson’s (2015) theory of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ objects to include a third category: ‘unexpected objects’ of journalism. These objects, such as art on newsroom walls, news media merchandise, and daily ephemera, often have little directly to do with newsmaking processes, yet play an important affective role in journalism.