THE TENSION BETWEEN PROFESSIONAL CONTROL AND OPEN PARTICIPATION: Journalism and its boundaries

Seth C. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

386 Scopus citations

Abstract

Amid growing difficulties for professionals generally, media workers in particular are negotiating the increasingly contested boundary space between producers and users in the digital environment. This article, based on a review of the academic literature, explores that larger tension transforming the creative industries by extrapolating from the case of journalism - namely, the ongoing tension between professional control and open participation in the news process. Firstly, the sociology of professions, with its emphasis on boundary maintenance, is used to examine journalism as boundary work, profession, and ideology - each contributing to the formation of journalism's professional logic of control over content. Secondly, by considering the affordances and cultures of digital technologies, the article articulates open participation and its ideology. Thirdly, and against this backdrop of ideological incompatibility, a review of empirical literature finds that journalists have struggled to reconcile this key tension, caught in the professional impulse toward one-way publishing control even as media become a multi-way network. Yet, emerging research also suggests the possibility of a hybrid logic of adaptability and openness - an ethic of participation - emerging to resolve this tension going forward. The article concludes by pointing to innovations in analytical frameworks and research methods that may shed new light on the producer-user tension in journalism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)836-866
Number of pages31
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Volume15
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2012

Keywords

  • boundary work
  • digital culture
  • institutional logic
  • journalism studies
  • new media
  • newswork
  • participatory journalism
  • professionalism
  • sociology of professions

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