Revisiting impartiality: Social media and journalism at the BBC

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This article contributes to the literature of news production studies by providing a powerful example of how processes of deliberation bring change to journalism. It explores the reconstruction of impartiality using the single case-study of social media in the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) international journalism. In this case-study, symbolic interactionism and mesostructure analysis enable us to explore social organizations and social processes, placing them in larger embedded contexts (structural, historical, and mode of action) and extended temporality. Following D. L. Altheide's (1996) ecology of communication framework, this study on BBC impartiality demonstrates that in the newsroom, techies have responded strategically to the logic of their environment. Techies have joined in the process of the new symbolic architecture of impartiality, which has transformed news agenda-setting. This new logic, ushered in by techies, has shaped editorial decisions at the public broadcaster. This article discusses how social media have contributed to the nature, organization, and consequences of communication activities of the BBC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)478-492
Number of pages15
JournalSymbolic Interaction
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • BBC
  • ecology of communication
  • impartiality
  • journalism
  • media logic
  • mesostructure
  • social media


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