The Crisis of Journalism Reconsidered: Cultural Power

Research paper by Jeffrey C. Alexander

Indexed on: 31 Jan '15Published on: 31 Jan '15Published in: Fudan Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences


Recent technological change and the economic upheaval it has produced are coded by social meanings. Cultural codes not only trigger technological and economic changes, but also provide pathways to control them, allowing the democratic practices of independent journalism to be sustained in new forms. Even as they successfully defend their professional ethics, however, journalists experience them as vulnerable to subversion in the face of technological and economic change. Indeed, independent journalists and the social groups who support them often feel as if they are losing the struggle for autonomy. Just as current anxieties have been triggered by computerization and digital news, so were earlier crises of journalism linked to technological shifts that demanded new forms of economic organization. Digital production has created extraordinary organizational upheaval and economic strain. At the same time, critical confrontations with digital production have triggered innovative organizational forms that allow new technologies to sustain, rather than undermine, the democratic culture and institution of news production. If news producers are making efforts to adapt professional journalism to the digital age while maintaining journalistic civil values, there are parallel adaptations from the digital side: digital journalism becoming more like professional journalism.