|Our very warm welcome to Journalism: New Challenges, an e-book published with the support of the Centre for Journalism and Communication Research (CJCR) in the Media School at Bournemouth University, UK. We hope the discussions unfolding on its pages – namely an Introduction, written by co-editors Karen Fowler-Watt and Stuart Allan, followed by 29 engaging chapters prepared by academics and journalists, respectively – will be of interest to you.
In seeking to identify and critique a range of the most pressing challenges confronting journalism today, this book examines topics such as:
The chapters are written in a crisp, accessible style, with a sharp eye to the key ideas, concepts, issues and debates warranting critical attention. Each ends with a set of ‘Challenging Questions’ to explore as you develop your own perspective, as well as a list of ‘Recommended Reading’ to help push the conversation onwards.
May you discover much here that stimulates your thinking and, with luck, prompts you to participate in lively debate about the future of journalism.
Free PDF Download
Journalism: New Challenges
Karen Fowler-Watt and Stuart Allan (eds)
Centre for Journalism &
Copyright © 2013
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Update 7th October 2013: We experienced some server downtime over the weekend due to the large number of people simultaneously downloading the book. This has now been resolved, but we have also made the book available via Dropbox (http://j.mp/Journalism-New_Challenges) if you the problem reoccurs. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.
Table of Contents
With regard to the production and distribution of this book, we are grateful to Einar Thorsen and Ann Luce for their stellar efforts. They would like to thank, in turn, Carrie Ka Mok for setting its design and layout, and Ana Alania for contributing ideas for the cover. Many thanks as well to Mary Evans, Emma Scattergood and Chindu Sreedharan for their helpful suggestions on how to develop this publishing venture.
Karen Fowler-Watt and Stuart Allan, editors
Introduction, by Karen Fowler-Watt and Stuart Allan
As this debate over how best to rein in the scandalous excesses of certain newspapers has unfolded, it is interesting to note how often the press’s perceived role as a ‘fourth estate’ has surfaced as a point of contention. Over the years, this idealised role has routinely served as a form of shorthand to register the conviction that the citizen’s right to freedom of speech is best protected by a market-driven, advertising-supported media system. Its advocates tend to be rather passionate in their belief that journalism is charged with a noble mission of providing members of the public with a diverse ‘market place of ideas’ to both inform and sustain their sense of the world around them. This responsibility places the news media at the centre of public life, namely because they facilitate the formation of public opinion regarding the pressing issues of the day – and thereby make democratic control over governing relations possible. The performance of this democratic imperative is contingent upon the realisation of press freedom as a guiding principle, one jealously safeguarded from any possible impediment associated with power and privilege. In contributing to the ‘system of checks and balances,’ the news media underwrite a consensual process of surveillance – watchdogs nipping at the heels of the elite – so as to ensure political and corporate interests are held responsive to the shifting dictates of public opinion.
Flash-forward to today, however, and these laudable platitudes about media and civic empowerment – for that is how they resonate to some ears – risk seeming anachronistic. One may point to examples where the news media have succeeded in afflicting the comfortable while comforting the afflicted, to borrow a dusty phrase, but in the main they tend to be found seriously wanting in their fourth estate obligations. Public criticisms of the deepening income gap between the wealthy few and the vast majority of citizens (the other 99%) have continued to intensify as the global economic crisis grinds on, with state-imposed austerity measures producing severe hardship for many of society’s most vulnerable. Social antagonisms, typically receiving scant media attention as concerns in their own right, are no longer hidden in plain sight – the 2011 summer riots in several British cities being a case in point. Many of those declaring their pessimism about whether the fourth estate will ever halt, let alone reverse its slide toward irrelevance contend that corporate journalism is complicit in upholding the very power structures it ostensibly strives to interrogate and challenge. Lofty fourth estate rhetoric about steadfast commitments to fearless reporting notwithstanding, public trust will not be garnered when watchdogs seem content to behave like lapdogs much of the time.
More optimistic appraisals suggest that hope for a reinvigorated fourth estate lies elsewhere, namely with ordinary citizens. More specifically, they point to the emergence of what some commentators are describing as a ‘fifth estate,’ namely a realm of citizen-centred newsmaking (often labelled ‘citizen journalism’) actively supplementing – and, in some instances, supplanting – the mainstream news media’s role in covering breaking news. Just as the British historian Thomas Macaulay observed in 1828 that ‘the gallery in which the reporters sit has become a fourth estate of the realm,’ it would appear that ordinary individuals and groups engaged in newsmaking are signalling the potential for a fifth estate to claim its purchase. Digitally-savvy citizens intent on fashioning alternative forms of reporting are actively rewriting the rules of corporate journalism as together they cajole, provoke and inspire news organisations to fulfil their public service commitments. Declarations that the fourth estate is on the brink of collapse are wide of the mark, some insist, when there is such remarkable potential for new, enriched types of collaborative news reporting to flourish in the digital age. The imperatives transforming what counts as journalism – and who can be a journalist – present opportunities for citizen-professional partnerships based upon mutual-respect, quite possibly in ways that will succeed in democratising the dynamics of media power in the public interest.
It is against this rapidly shifting backdrop, where the normative tenets of the fourth estate ideal are being reimagined anew, that we welcome you to the pages of Journalism: New Challenges. Below we will offer a brief snapshot of its chapters, highlighting the ways in which each strives to encourage a fresh appraisal of the challenges confronting journalism today – and, in so doing, contribute to current discussions about how we may best proceed to improve the quality of news reporting for tomorrow. Please note that you may download a free PDF version of each chapter, as well as the book as a whole.