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Investing In Yourself: Entrepreneurial Journalism In The Digital Age

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posted on 24.05.2021, 15:23 by Jeremy Schtern
This dissertation is grounded in a Critical Political Economy of communication theoretical framework in conjunction with extensive, qualitative interviews with eighteen emerging journalists, three journalism educators from different types of journalism schools (academic, vocational, hybrid) and four editors from different types of news organizations (legacy, public broadcaster, digital first media) in order to navigate between institutional structures and the agency of individual actors. This work examines how the current structural configurations of the news media industry are impacting how emerging journalists negotiate the expectations that they develop personal brands online, including their perceived control and autonomy over their work. It also aims to understand how journalistic training and hiring practices in news media organizations are changing given the financial uncertainty of the industry. The death of the advertising business model, the increasingly precarious nature of the journalism workforce, and an increased reliance on social networking sites for distribution, referred to as the ‘new media environment’, are shaping the way news is produced and the ways in which emerging journalists are able to achieve paid employment. This dissertation presents an original inquiry into the online brand building and professionalization practices of emerging journalists. This study finds that as journalists are increasingly required to personally brand themselves and act as entrepreneurs, the governing values of the profession and the work of doing journalism has changed greatly. It was found that the notion of journalistic autonomy is complex and contradictory as journalists prefer the freedoms that are afforded from working in a freelance capacity but are also compelled to use social networking sites for professionalization and must engage in self-promotion and personal branding. The findings further demonstrate that emerging journalists must undergo layers of what the researcher refers to as visibility labour, which refers to the layers of unpaid labour, the processes of self-commodification and personal branding that emerging journalists must undertake to promote themselves, gain recognition and build audiences around themselves in attempts to build a sustainable career and resist precarity. This dissertation considers policy responses and proposes ways forward for the news industry, journalism education, and for journalists themselves.





Doctor of Philosophy


Communication and Culture

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type