The Space of Journalistic Work: A Theoretical Model

The Space of Journalistic Work: A Theoretical Model Abstract Attempts to define journalism are often normative in nature but do not add to our theoretical understanding of what journalism is. There is a need for journalism scholarship to recognize explicitly that journalism is a space in which participants are not equal—or even similar—in terms of status, influence, work tasks, and working conditions. This paper offers a theoretical model combining the field theory of Pierre Bourdieu with recent insights from the sociology of work in order to articulate how journalistic work is stratified across three dimensions: journalistic capital, resource access, and material security. These dimensions create a space in which to place different types of journalistic work in order to make sense of contemporary journalism. Introduction: Journalism as a space Journalism as an occupation has historically been characterized by fluid boundaries. There have been few barriers to entry, little in the way of formal educational requirements, and plenty of opportunities to drift in and out of journalism. Journalism was long an activity that more often was a sideline rather than a full-time occupation. Considering this, it does at first seem curious that classificatory questions like “Who is a journalist?,” “Is X journalism?,” and “Is X ‘real’ journalism?” (where X can be substituted for Twitter, Wikipedia, crowdsourcing, Instagram, or whatever the fad-of-the-month is among journalists) have had such a strong hold over journalism scholarship. However, if we view these classificatory questions more from a normative than a descriptive angle, their prominence is less surprising: as Carlson writes, “Contests over journalism’s boundaries are symbolic contests in which different actors vie for definitional control to apply or remove the label of journalism” (Carlson, 2015, p. 2). Definition is a matter of status, and not only symbolic status, for as Carlson (2015, p.2) continues, “Gains in symbolic resources translate into material rewards.” In this article we combine the symbolic and the material aspects of journalistic work through the merging of Bourdieu’s field theory with attention to the material conditions of such work (the latter aspect was underemphasized in Bourdieu’s field theory but is increasingly coming to the fore in contemporary journalism research, e.g., Gollmitzer, 2014; Phillips, Couldry, & Freedman, 2010; Van Leuven, Deprez, & Raeymaeckers, 2014) in order to contribute to the ongoing theorizing of journalism’s boundaries. Furthermore, the persistence of what we could call “boundary questions” in journalism research also demonstrates the enormous influence that the historical institutionalization of journalism (beginning in the late 19th century with the emergence of the mass newspaper and solidified in the mid-20th century through the consolidation of mass newspapers and the emergence of public service and commercial broadcasting) has had for understanding the field. Many of the classificatory questions presented are only meaningful in a context where almost all journalistic work is done by people who are employed—commonly in permanent, full-time roles—by traditional media organizations. This institutional framework has changed, and journalism with it. Production and distribution of news content is now done far beyond the walls of traditional news organizations. Questions of where journalism ends and “not-journalism” begins have become even more persistent in a media landscape characterized by ubiquitous social media, changing news ecologies, and a more active audience (Anderson, 2011; Domingo & Le Cam, 2014; Lewis, 2012). However, while the boundaries (such as they are) of journalism have been scrutinized thoroughly, there are fewer attempts to theoretically map the factors that underpin journalistic work and explain how very different categories of workers end up sharing the same doxa (tacit presuppositions and values). Yet it is worth pointing out that many contemporary practices and developments in journalism that are viewed as disruptive were, in fact, once the normal way of organizing journalistic work. The three leading writers for the Times of London (under editor John Walter II) in 1808 were a rural clergyman, a military officer, and a political satirist who worked for the Times when on holiday from debtor’s prison (these three characters were, respectively, Peter Fraser, Edward Sterling, and Walter Combe; see Fox Bourne, 1887, p. 284; Robinson, 1869, p. 153f); none of them were on permanent contracts and all had journalism as a sideline rather than their main occupation. Were they perhaps “citizen journalists” (or even “guest bloggers”) who happened to use the Times as their platform? There is a need for journalism scholarship to recognize explicitly what has always been true: that journalism is best understood as an amorphous set of activities where participants are not equal or even similar in terms of status, influence, work tasks, and working conditions. Journalism includes the star reporter as well as the penny-a-liner; the investigative journalist as well as the op-ed writer; the foreign correspondent as well as the chess correspondent; the editor of the local weekly as well as the editor of the national prestige daily paper; the citizen reporter as well as the full-time employee of the evening news bulletin; it includes the subeditor, the intern, the news photographer, and the editor at the online news aggregator. Yet so much research and commentary still uses the (increasingly mythological) hard news reporter on a full-time permanent contract at a legacy news organization as the model journalist. Given that this model of a journalist has an increasingly tenuous connection to reality, we see a need for a more fine-grained and diverse typology of journalistic work. One of the key changes to journalism is that it is again becoming (just as it was in the mid- to late-19th century) a field where fluid internal movement (in and out of permanent employment; shifting work tasks and work roles; dropping or rising in status) is the norm, rather than the exception. In this paper, we propose a model that articulates how journalistic work is stratified across three dimensions: journalistic capital, access to resources, and material security (see Figure 1). The contribution of this model is its combination of a Bourdieusian perspective, focused on the shared and tacit knowledges and values of work, with an attention to the material conditions and aspects of journalistic work. By material, we primarily refer to the material resources attached to the activity of journalism (e.g., a regular salary, access to a professional support structure, extra resources available for special assignments and long-term work, etc.). This is a more classical Marxist sense of the word, compared to how the concepts of material and materiality have recently been used in journalism studies, where the inspiration has rather come from science and technology studies, and material mainly refers to the characteristics of the technological devices and systems used in contemporary journalism (as in the special journal issue edited by Anderson and De Maeyer, 2015, for example). Figure 1 View largeDownload slide The space of journalistic work. Figure 1 View largeDownload slide The space of journalistic work. Together, these three dimensions (one symbolic, two material) create a metaphorical space in which different journalistic occupations, their work, and their output can be placed. The model is aimed at mapping and understanding the metaphorical space in which the individual journalist(s) maneuver. This model contributes to the field of journalism studies, in that it brings together and synthesizes previous research on both symbolic and material factors that structure journalistic work. For the symbolic part, we draw on Bourdieu’s field theory, but also note that while his field theory has become a common reference point in journalism research, such research mostly limits itself to discussing what constitutes desirable traits, norms, and performances in journalism (e.g., Hanitzsch, 2011; Schultz, 2007). In other words, journalism scholars have focused on Bourdieu’s concept of habitus, or the social dimension of journalism, to the exclusion of other key aspects of the field theory. We argue that more emphasis must be placed on the material aspects of journalism: the working conditions and resources available for the individual journalist. In the current moment, the basic material conditions of journalism have deteriorated to the point that prospective journalists have to look long and hard to find any job positions or even any prosperous and functioning media organizations to work for, irrespective of the symbolic capital these journalists may possess (Gollmitzer, 2014; Nel, 2010; Phillips et al., 2010; Reinardy, 2011). Thus, using the “model journalist” as a template to understand journalistic work increasingly becomes misleading. Synthesizing Bourdieu’s idea of symbolic capital with labor theory in general and research on working conditions for journalists in particular, as well as with what can be broadly referred to as organizational studies of journalistic work, creates a model of a metaphorical space that allows for a more elaborate and diversified understanding of the preconditions for many kinds of contemporary and historical journalistic work, as well as the position of individuals within this space. We will outline the three dimensions that structure the space of journalistic work, as well as provide historical and contemporary examples of journalistic workers who inhabit the various parts of this space. To be clear, the purpose of this theoretical model is not to predict the level of changes in the journalistic workforce, but is rather an analytical instrument that can be used to better understand the challenges and changes that journalism faces. The actual impact of these changes must be subjected to empirical studies, and we argue that this model could inform such empirical studies. The model should be seen as a heuristic tool rather than a map of reality onto which all possible cases can be plotted. Our position vis-à-vis the ongoing discussions of journalism’s boundaries is not one where we are primarily interested in suggesting a new or alternative definition of these boundaries, but rather, following the perspective set forth in Carlson & Lewis (2015), to try to understand what these boundaries mean and how they have manifested historically. Our own definition of journalism (or rather, journalistic work) is at heart pragmatic: every practitioner who shares the journalistic doxa (see the following section) belongs in our analytical space, regardless of whether considered highbrow or lowbrow. The three dimensions explained Our model of the space of journalistic work departs from the work of Pierre Bourdieu (Benson & Neveu, 2005; Bourdieu, 2005; Lindell, 2015), specifically his field theory or field model. According to Bourdieu, modern societies with a high degree of division of labor divide themselves into various fields (Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992). A field is a social microcosm in which players (participants) struggle over positions. What unites the players in a field is the belief that the game is worth playing (illusio), and thus players share the same “tacit presuppositions” (doxa). In the case of journalism, doxa would, for example, include the ideal of objectivity, as well as what journalists themselves refer to as a journalistic “gut feeling” (Schultz, 2007). Social differentiation within fields is not only set by asymmetries in access to material resources (e.g., economic capital), but also in the possession of symbolic resources that are collectively recognized and legitimized as capital (Bourdieu, 1986; Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992). The merit of field theory for understanding journalistic work is that it does not rely on any preconceived definition of the journalist, but instead focuses on participants in the journalistic field: that is, all social agents who, to various extents, have internalized journalistic norms and goals and recognize the stakes at play in the field—agents that share a journalistic doxa and illusio. The doxa is pronounced and reinforced when journalism creates for itself certain “god terms” (such as facts, objectivity, and reality; Zelizer, 2004) and when observers of this field feel able to make a 10-point list of what the elements of journalism really are (e.g., Kovach & Rosenstiehl, 2001). We are certainly not unique in this Bourdieusian approach, but, as we hope to demonstrate, previous journalism research based on Bourdieu’s field theory has had a different focus than ours and/or downplayed the material aspects related to the work conducted within the field. The main attraction of Bourdieu’s field model is that it proposes that the players in the field have unequal chances of success depending on both their social trajectories and their volume of field-specific resources (journalistic capital; Hovden, 2008). This principle of division in the space of journalistic work is central in our model. It must first be noted that journalism research based on Bourdieu’s field theory has tended to focus on mental structures: that is, how values, norms, and practices of journalists are formed (Gardeström, 2017; Hovden, 2008) and enacted in boundary-work (Hanitzsch, 2011; Hovden, 2012; Schultz, 2007; Vos, Craft, & Ashley, 2012). The organizational context in which a journalist works and the form of employment she has tend to be viewed as outcomes of the volume of accumulated journalistic capital (Hovden, 2012; Hovden & Knapskog, 2015) rather than as factors of differentiation within the field. In times of increasingly precarious media work, this is not necessarily the case. Even journalists with high status within the field (i.e., a high level of journalistic capital) may find themselves out of a job, and people who start out at the margins of the field can quickly rise to become full-time employees. There is thus good reason to take into account the materiality of journalistic work by treating the levels of resource access and material security as central, definitional dimensions in their own right. Even though an individual journalist may possess the same journalistic capital as she did 20 years ago, her working conditions are likely very different today (see, for example, Gollmitzer, 2014, on the working conditions of freelance journalists; Reinardy, 2011, on burnout among journalists; and Phillips et al., 2010, on the hypercompetitive working environment of U.K. tabloid journalists). Furthermore, although researchers working with field theory acknowledge the inclusion of citizen journalists in the field (Vos et al., 2012), field theory still has too strong a focus on individuals who are visible in larger media outlets, rather than including all individuals working within the journalistic doxa. Placing journalistic work on a scale that describes the level of access to resources (referring to the material resources the organization you work for puts at your disposal) then becomes necessary for the reasons set out previously. The important thing here is not the nature and character of the organization itself, as, for example, even a less well-resourced organization may give great resources to its star journalists and, conversely, a well-resourced organization will not give equal access to all of its resources to all of its employees. Today, as both journalistic work and the journalistic doxa itself are becoming increasingly uncoupled from the traditional organizational framework of journalism, it is becoming more and more relevant to view the resources provided by such organizations (and their alternatives) as a sliding scale; different organizations have different resources, some journalistic work may be performed with almost no organizational framework, and even within the same organization journalists in different positions may be integrated into the organizational framework to very different degrees. Third and finally, the dimension of material security (meaning whether the practitioner is paid a regular salary for his or her work and whether the contractual relationship between the journalist and the employer is stable and long-term) is also essential to setting and maintaining the material boundaries of the field. Professionalism research shows us that the maintenance of doxa in a field over time (though professionalism researchers tend to refer to this as “professional norms and values” rather than doxa, the terms largely have the same denotation) actually requires stable and continuous employment (e.g., Abbott, 1988; Freidson, 2001; Sarfatti Larson, 1977). If a precarious contractual situation is the norm for those in the occupation, it becomes much more difficult to formulate and mobilize doxa for the purposes of field independence, or to actually create journalism as a field autonomous (or at least semiautonomous) from other fields. A field needs a critical mass of practitioners who do not constantly have to worry about their belonging to the field in the first place. This dimension, like the preceding one, reflects the current material conditions of the field; journalists can no longer count on being employed in permanent, full-time positions with large, stable organizations, and therefore will be more mobile through the space of journalistic work. While these three dimensions (journalistic capital; access to resources; material security) are all interlinked, they are also functionally independent. In fact, the very point of the model is to not conflate the dimensions, even though they may correlate to some extent. High-level access to resources often correlates with a high degree of material security, but this is not always the case. Field occupants can have access to many resources but still not enjoy a high degree of material security, and vice versa: occupants can have a low level of access to resources yet enjoy relatively high levels of material security (examples of such instances will be provided in our discussion of the model). In the following sections, we outline and explain the three dimensions. Following that, we show how the three dimensions can be combined into eight different kinds of journalistic work. We will illustrate the different positions in the model with examples demonstrating the applicability of the model. Journalistic capital (high/low) Journalistic capital deals with “the effects that the people engaged in this microcosm [the journalistic field] exert on one another” (Bourdieu, 2005, p. 33). The X-axis of our model refers to the degree to which journalists (or, players in the journalistic field) are in possession of the symbolic resources that are collectively recognized as valuable in the field. It has been shown by a number of theoretical and empirical inquiries (e.g., Benson, 1998; Benson & Neveu, 2005; Bourdieu, 1998, 2005; Hanitzsch, 2011; Neveu, 2007) that the world of journalism can fruitfully be thought of as a social field, and journalists as players who, to various degrees, have accumulated journalistic capital (Hellmueller, Vos, & Poepsel, 2013; Hovden, 2012; Hovden & Knapskog, 2015; Schultz, 2007). We are thus dealing with social agents whose positions in the journalistic field depend on the extent to which they are in possession of symbolic journalistic capital. Following Hovden, examples of qualities that constitute such capital could be “having won a national journalistic prize, being a columnist in a large newspaper, being on the jury on a renowned journalistic prize, holding a national office in the press organizations, etc.” (Hovden, 2008, p. 177). We may thus find it unlikely that a citizen journalist blogging about lifestyle and health issues be awarded a journalistic prize, precisely because the field does not recognize such journalism as “good” or proper, and subsequently not as journalistic capital. Consequently, this kind of capital functions as a central force that journalists draw upon in order to differentiate amongst themselves (Hovden, 2008). Journalistic capital not only gives prestige and sway in the journalistic world; it may have material consequences as well, and thus it is linked to our two other dimensions (access to resources and material security). For example, journalists with higher amounts of journalistic capital are less likely to lead precarious working lives, and more likely to have access to the resources they need in order to do their job: “For a journalist, the degree of autonomy will depend on one’s position in the journalistic field” (Bourdieu, 2005, p. 43–44). A high volume of journalistic capital “follows an organization hierarchy in news organizations” (Hovden, 2012, p. 64). Vice versa, journalists with low levels of journalistic capital are more likely to be found in “precarious job situations” (Hovden & Knapskog, 2015, p. 795). Those lacking journalistic capital tend to work in local media organizations, serve as technical specialists, and deal with “softer” news topics (sports, leisure, health; Hovden, 2012), and thus have less access to the resources provided by the organization in which they work. With our model, we wish to emphasize that in the contemporary media ecology, journalistic capital is not correlated with stable working conditions in a linear fashion. As media work tends to become more precarious, it may force journalists to brand themselves individually, and thus to rely on their journalistic capital in order to remain a journalist despite having been deprived of an institutional setting (Wiik & Hedman, 2015). Thus, in the contemporary context, having a full-time position in a prestigious legacy media organization might well be a defining aspect of journalistic capital. This leads us on to our next dimension, access to resources. Access to resources (high/low) Access to resources is the Z-axis in our model and refers to what could also be called the infrastructure of journalism: the degree of economic, managerial, collegial, and technological resources available to individual journalists in the immediate context in which they perform their work. In the traditional model of journalism (described in the introductory section), these resources are provided by the news organization for which the journalist works: the news organization remunerates journalists, provides resources (e.g., hardware, knowledge, colleagues) for carrying out journalistic work, and provides an administrative and collegiate framework for carrying out this work, as well as a system for how internal actors can be connected with external ones (i.e., access to sources), all of which are activities conducted within a framework aimed at producing news with a fixed periodicity (Hamilton, 2004). The importance of such resources can especially be noted amongst those that lack them, such as citizen journalists (cf., Fico et al., 2013; Örnebring, 2013; Reich, 2008). As the resources of traditional news organizations are dwindling and alternative forms for organizing and financing journalism emerge, this dimension becomes more, rather than less, salient. Journalists working for a big media organization have the resources and support to carry out their work but may be more directly vulnerable to managerial decisions and peer pressure. The resources, or lack thereof, of the organization will also affect how successful it will be in drawing attention to its products. Peters and Broersma (2013, p. 5) label the structural changes in the news business a “de-industrialization of information,” where the news industry no longer can be organized according to principles of scale. Dwindling resources will make news infrastructures more difficult to maintain (Picard, 2006) as journalists are laid off and/or have to produce more with less. Anderson (2011) observes that the traditional newsroom has “blown up” and that both the metaphorical and literal walls of the newsroom are shifting dramatically. This development will also lead to considerably different preconditions for performing journalistic work. Although the infrastructure in general is weakening, this will not affect all journalistic outlets or journalists equally (Hamilton, 2004; Ryfe, 2012), leading to an increased stratification between those outlets that can maintain a stronger organizational framework and those who cannot. This, in turn, will affect how the journalistic work will be performed, distributed, and consumed, as a stronger organizational framework will provide more resources but also mean more extraoccupational (managerial) control. The journalistic profession and its routines and autonomy have long been embedded in an industrial logic of production, and when this industrial logic changes, the profession will change with it. Material security (high/low) We take material security, the Y-axis in our model, to mean the degree of contractual and financial security for the individual worker. This dimension, to a large extent, relates to whether and how much you get paid for the work performed and the contractual form under which you work, but also to elements such as the extent of social security, medical benefits, retirement funds, paid vacation, period of notice, working on incentive, and so forth, fundamentally affecting the conditions under which one performs journalistic work. As with our other dimensions, material security should be understood as a continuum where various forms of journalistic work differ in terms of salary levels, material and immaterial benefits, and contractual status. For example, a successful news blogger without any employment contract may still be guaranteed some measure of security through online advertising revenue streams. Precarity is a term commonly used to characterize such new (or semi-new) forms of insecure, contingent, and flexible work (Brophy & de Peuter, 2007; Gill & Pratt, 2008; McKercher, 2014; de Peuter, 2014; Ross, 2009; Standing, 2011). Such work forms are currently said to increase due to a number of trends: changes wrought by the so-called digital or “new” economy (Head, 2003); the increased globalization of work and the concomitant increase in global work inequality (Standing, 2009; Williams, Bradley, Devadson, & Erickson, 2013); the rise and spread of specific forms of organizing work, for example project work and other organizational forms designed for a more liquid, less predictable workflow (Hodgson & Briand, 2013; Melik, 2007); and the decreased power of labor unions (Flanagan, 2006; Howell, 2005). Precarity was once the norm in journalism: few journalists were employed on permanent, full-time contracts, but were instead paid on a per-item basis. Even the most prestigious types of correspondents were often not paid a regular salary, but rather were paid a retainer (King & Plunkett, 2004; Lee, 1976). When James Perry, proprietor of the Morning Chronicle in Britain in the early 1800s, decided to pay his political correspondents a full annual salary, it was considered an innovative and risky move: normally correspondents were not paid over the Parliament recess period (Hunt, 1850, p. 196). Today, international research indicates that we are witnessing a return to employment conditions that are reminiscent of the 19th century (e.g., Fast, Örnebring, & Karlsson, 2016; Nygren & Dobek-Ostrowska, 2015; Walters, Warren, & Dobbie, 2006; Weischenberg, Malik, & Scholl, 2006). In journalism, as in many other media/cultural industry fields, employers generally use unpaid and contingent work as a resource-saving device (Compton & Benedetti, 2010; Lee-Wright, Phillips, & Witschge, 2012), for example through increased outsourcing of content production, subediting, and layout to domestic or international contractors or freelancers (Bakker, 2012; Örnebring & Ferrer Conill, 2016; Picard, 2006) and by conducting more work on a project basis (Deuze, 2007). We are also increasingly seeing a functional integration of unpaid work into many occupations, particularly at the entry level (Fast et al., 2016; Perlin, 2012; Ross, 2013); that is, in order to be employable, you first have to perform a lot of work on spec or as an unpaid intern. Frequently, unpaid work and contingent employment contracts within the occupation are interpreted as a key factor influencing the de-professionalization of journalism (e.g., Örnebring, 2016; Witschge & Nygren, 2009). If certain forms of journalism are increasingly unpaid or very low-paid (Bakker, 2012), then “you get what you pay for.” Detailing the model Before describing the different spaces in our model, there are some points that we must clarify. First, any individual can move through this space and occupy different spaces over the course of a career. You can move up from being a messenger boy to being a writer, as it were. Conversely, you can be laid off from a permanent position and instead become a freelancer and run a hyperlocal news site in your spare time. Second, we focus on emphasizing variance in journalistic work and pointing to the outliers in the journalistic space we have defined, rather than the work that can be considered “normal” (if there is indeed any normal work in journalism). Third and finally, it is important to stress that a key purpose of our model is to present a way of understanding journalistic work that moves away from the “journalist-residing-in-house” model. In detailing the different parts of journalistic space, we will move from those with a weaker position to those with a stronger position. Low material security, low access to resources, low journalistic capital Recent discourse about news producers as “citizen” (Gillmor, 2004) or “grassroots” (Allan, 2009; Karlsson & Holt, 2014) journalists points to the blurring boundaries of the journalistic field, and hence also to the need to recognize a wide spectrum of journalistic work in any discussion of the changing conditions of news production. At one end of this spectrum, we find individuals who produce journalistic content without necessarily being recognized—or even considering themselves—as journalists in the traditional sense of the term. Historically, this space of journalistic work, weak in all three dimensions, would be exemplified by the penny-a-liner (King & Plunkett, 2004, p. 42), a low-status journalist producing low-status content on a per-item basis with no permanent connection to a resource-providing organization. Today, this do-it-yourself news producer is perhaps best exemplified by the amateur blogger who engages affectively in producing and distributing news online, without necessarily having any journalistic education or background to speak of. He or she may well adhere to the journalistic doxa (e.g., by subscribing to journalistic ideals such as objectivity), yet as someone without particular prestige or recognition in the journalistic field, this news producer scores low in terms of journalistic capital. Being in dispossession of journalistic capital, many news bloggers also find themselves working largely independently, without apparent connections to established news organizations. Hence, they generally have a low degree of access to resources. A news blogger may offer to sell a news organization her amateur photos, video clips, or texts. However, in most cases, the work of these individuals remains completely unpaid and few contracts are actually signed, which is why their working conditions are characterized by a low level of material security. Low material security, high access to resources, low journalistic capital While many amateur news reporters operate entirely outside of an organizational context, there are also those who are tied to one or several news organizations, just as there were penny-a-liners who may have had stronger attachments to a particular news organization and therefore could rely on somewhat better resources (King & Plunkett, 2004). For example, many bloggers publish their work on aggregated news sites, like Ohmy news (a Korean news portal whose motto is “Every citizen is a journalist”; see Kim & Hamilton, 2006) or Gawker (“the source for daily Manhattan media news and gossip”). Both news sites provide the blogger with—comparatively speaking—high access to resources that include, for instance, paid staff members and technical support. However, even when the organizational framework is relatively strong, the level of material security may still be low. Access to resources does not necessarily equal a risk-free and secure employment. For instance, while certain aggregated news sites (like Gawker) do offer their contributors some payment, much of their blog news content is produced voluntarily. As it says on Ohmy news: “We are looking for volunteers who are passionate about citizen journalism” (http://international.ohmynews.com/join-our-team/). The voluntary work performed by interns at news organizations serves as another example of when access to resources does not guarantee a nonprecarious working situation. While interns might reach certain levels of social security in terms of welfare and work-related benefits the nature of internships as both temporally limited and unpaid renders occupational precarity high (e.g., Salamon, 2015). In terms of journalistic capital, neither the blogger nor the intern can be expected to possess any large amount of such capital (although the intern at a renowned news organization may accumulates more as his or her career advances). High material security, low access to resources, low journalistic capital The typical example of journalists enjoying a measure of occupational stability but with a relatively low level of access to resources and with low journalistic capital would be the employee (or even editor) of a small legacy local news organization. The historical precedent here is the printer/editor of early (18th- to 19th-century) newspapers: news organizations that were, in the words of Michael Schudson, essentially “one-man bands” (Schudson, 1978, p. 65). There are still many small local newspapers in many parts of the world which operate with skeleton staffs but who still have a virtual local advertising monopoly, creating an organizational framework that is not resource-rich but is stable enough to sustain employing one or even a few people on permanent contracts. Within this framework, journalists may also have to do a lot of general production work themselves. In a very small newspaper, there may not be a separate advertising department, for example, so the editor may also be the ad sales person, raising concerns about conflicts of interest (Donohue, Tichenor, & Olien, 1995). Journalists may have to write not only on many different subjects, but also many different types of content (e.g., reportage, nibs, obituaries, commentary), and may have to be their own photographers/videographers. The lack of specialization (where work may even include noneditorial tasks), coupled with the low prestige associated with working for very small, local news outlets results in a low degree of journalistic capital. Yet the steady paycheck and contractual stability sets journalists in this space apart from some journalists with considerably higher journalistic capital. High material security, high access to resources, low journalistic capital Not all journalists in high-status news organizations are themselves high-status. Many editorial employees in big regional newspapers or TV stations, national dailies/weeklies, and well-regarded specialist news publications are not, as a rule, going to win accolades and the widespread admiration of colleagues everywhere. Hard-working subeditors, the editors and journalists of family/lifestyle sections, nonstar sports writers, those producing and updating content for the organizational web page without a byline—all of these categories of people are undoubtedly journalists, but enjoy a low degree of journalistic capital. They work outside high-status subject areas and/or with different and more administrative work tasks than the star reporters and columnists. Journalists working in less prestigious or nonprestigious subject areas and/or with more prosaic work tasks still enjoy the benefits of access to the resources of an established legacy organization (or otherwise resource-strong regional news outlet) and their employment is generally fairly secure, especially for those who have editorial and supervisory responsibilities. Their positions may not be very threatened by economic restructuring, but the subeditor or the editor of the travel supplement are not likely to win Pulitzers, either. This part of the space of journalistic work indicates that, despite the fact that the journalistic capital of the organization generally translates into a higher journalistic capital for the individuals working there (Hovden, 2012; Hovden & Knapskog, 2015), this is not always nor uniformly the case. Low material security, low access to resources, high journalistic capital The people inhabiting this corner of our model are not journalists in the sense that we have come to define them in the latter part of the 20th century. They are not employed by a media organization and they have no access to the resources and infrastructure of such organizations. However, their peers in the journalistic field appreciate their production of journalistic content, which can be published on their own platforms for dissemination. Historically, leader/op-ed writers occupied this space: commonly these were men with high status from other fields (law, politics, religion, culture) who produced commentary as a sideline but whose activities were still accorded high respect and status in the journalistic field (Lee, 1976, p. 110). Occupants of this space today include, for example, the journalism graduate with a diploma from an elite university who has yet to find employment. She enjoys institutionally-sanctioned journalistic capital and produces content that is considered more or less legitimate in the journalistic field. We may also find the seasoned journalist who has been laid off from a larger media firm but, rather than freelancing, tries to carve out her own niche in the media landscape. This could be done by starting a specialist site reporting on a specific set of topics or by launching a site for (hyper)local news, for example. However, such outlets rarely have reliable infrastructure (Ryfe, 2012), and therefore offer limited resources for employees. These actors will thus often suffer from low material security despite having a high level of journalistic capital. Low material security, high access to resources, high journalistic capital In this corner of our model we find journalists enjoying high access to resources: they have access to the prerequisites they need for the production of journalistic output. Furthermore, the work done by the journalists occupying this space in our model is held in high regard: they possess journalistic capital. Still, it is a precarious corner. These journalists are, for various reasons, not fully employed at a media organization. A Swedish example would be when reporters at Aftonbladet (the biggest evening daily) and Dagens Nyheter (the biggest prestige morning daily) were laid off by their respective employers only to be rehired for significantly lower wages via staffing agencies owned by the respective mother companies of these papers (Byttner, 2014; Nesser, 2015). These journalists found themselves in a precarious occupational situation, but still very much embedded in the same well-resourced organizational framework and still conducting journalistic work considered of high value by peers in the journalistic field. In terms of traditional journalism, freelancers who provide legacy media with “hard news” also occupy this space. This may now extend to other kinds of journalistic work. Given the increasingly precarious character of media work (Deuze, 2007), we may expect a growing share of journalists to populate this part of the journalistic space. High material security, high access to resources, high journalistic capital In the top front left corner we will find journalists who have a stable contractual relationship with a relatively large media institution such as the BBC, New York Times, MSNBC, Wall Street Journal, or a larger regional media group, enjoying material security with a high level of access to resources. In order to achieve this position the journalist must possess high enough journalistic capital to maintain or increase the organization’s status in the field. In return, the organization provides the journalist with resources and support, making sure that it is aligned for the benefit of the journalist. The organization can also put the limelight on and further elevate the journalist by, for instance, giving him/her a column or promoting them to an expert reporter on a high-profile subject such as politics or economics. Classic examples of journalists with high journalistic capital and high access to resources would include names such as Walter Cronkite (CBS), Tom Brokaw (NBC), Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward (Washington Post), or 19th-century journalistic stars like George A. Sala (Wiener, 1994, p. 65). The importance of this kind of journalist for the organization and their mutual dependency also means that they will have high material security, as their working conditions will be better than other journalists’ within the organization will. In fact, there seems to be an increased importance of high-profile journalists for the organization, as the salaries for news anchors multiplied between 1970 and 2000 (Hamilton, 2004), in stark contrast to the development of the field as a whole. Subsequently, the journalists residing in this space of the model have had their precarity decreased while almost all of the other positions, save the upcoming ones, have had their precarity increased. This indicates that the space in our model has expanded over the last decades; the differences between various forms of journalistic work have increased. In addition, although ultimately an empirical question, it is probable that the relative share of journalists occupying this space have decreased over time. Furthermore, as the balance between the high-profile journalists and the organization tilts in the favor of the journalists, they can weigh anchor and become independent. High material security, low access to resources, high journalistic capital Journalists occupying the final position in our model can be considered independent stars. These journalists share some features with freelancers and citizens journalists, as they do not rely on (nor do they sometimes even need) the access to resources provided by a large media institution. The key difference between these journalists and the other nonaffiliated journalists is the price they can command for their texts. The high journalistic capital of these players means the possibility to be self-employed in a successful, small, private business from where they can pick and choose the most interesting and lucrative proposals. In addition, the resources earned do not have to be shared within a larger organizational framework in order to finance other, less successful journalists or support staff. Consequently, these journalists will enjoy high material security, as either their previous success might guarantee a steady stream of income or they may have accumulated so much money as to be economically independent. A Norwegian example of a journalist occupying this space would be Åsne Seierstad. Seierstad became not only the best-paid journalist in Norway after the release of her bestselling book, The Bookseller of Kabul, but also the best-paid cultural worker in the country (Gynnild, 2005). Most of Seierstad’s early work was done as a (more precariously employed) freelance war reporter, which demonstrates that when a journalist strikes gold, they can move to a more stable and profitable part of the journalistic space. Conclusion Journalism has never been monolithic. It has been present in different formats (e.g., tabloid/broadsheet), on different media platforms (print/broadcast), different types (hard/soft, reporting/commentary), and different genres (politics/sports/culture/entertainment/etc). Regardless of this multifaceted nature, journalistic work in the late modern era has generally been understood as exclusive (i.e., of other forms/types of work) and practiced in a framework of stable contractual relationships in large organizations. Recent developments mean the diversified and hybridized nature of contemporary journalism is, in many ways, more similar to journalism as it was practiced and organized in the late 19th century than to 20th-century journalism doxa. The understanding of and point of entry into the debate of “who is a journalist” and “what is journalism” have been too reliant on the assumptions that underpinned late or high modern journalism (the latter a phrase used by Hallin, 1992, to describe a strong consensus on what journalism is and who practices it, centered around the role of the journalist as a neutral reporter of facts, employed by legacy news organizations, see Hallin, 1992). As it turns out, these assumptions have, in turn, rested on the economic health of specific sectors of the media industry (notably the newspaper press, commercial broadcasting, and news agencies). When these sectors have become less economically viable (for reasons too numerous to address in this article), the material conditions of contemporary journalism have become both more visible and more relevant to the analysis of journalism as work. It is in this context that we think that the space created by the three dimensions in our suggested model will help researchers by providing a broader approach to understanding journalism in historical, contemporary, and future contexts. The model provides newer and wider contours to a field that otherwise appears to disintegrate, to blur, and to be reliant on only one analytical dimension (e.g., journalistic capital). That said, the model does not aim to provide an authoritative answer of what journalistic work “really” is or where it begins and ends. A defining feature of the contemporary journalistic space outlined in this article is the disparity between the inhabitants as shaped by, and in interplay with, the material and symbolic aspects of the field. This disparity—polarization, even—has consequences for the autonomy, livelihood, and influence of individual journalists, both professionally and privately. Yet the doxa encompasses all inhabitants of the field, some more explicitly and consciously than others, and they consequently engage in acts of journalism. We know much about those occupying the high material security/high access to resources/high journalistic capital part of the journalistic space, but we know much less about the other parts, nor do we have very detailed knowledge of how actors move within this space. It is imperative to study this space empirically in a number of ways. First, we need to map and understand the inhabitants of this space, both in terms of simple quantity (how many are they?) and in terms of how firmly they are anchored in this space in relation to adjacent spaces or fields. It is also relevant to study their self-image as inhabitants of this space, especially those who occupy a space far away from that of a late modern journalist. Second, we need to understand how current developments in algorithms and automation affect the different positions in this space. Who are affected and how? Which parts of the space contain journalism that lends itself to automation and/or various algorithmic treatments? Can an algorithm possess journalistic capital? Third, we need to study movement within this space: how and why do individuals move up, down, in, or out of the space? For such endeavors one will need to operationalize the space we have discussed here (along the lines of the examples we have provided); some previous research has moved in this direction (Hovden, 2008), but could be further deepened by consideration of the additional dimensions of organizational framework and occupational precarity. Given the fact that precarity is increasing and the organizational frameworks are weakening, we can assume that journalistic capital will be of increased importance (on this note, see also Davidson and Meyer’s [2016] discussion on the value of various forms of capital within and outside of the field of journalism). Fourth, we need to map the relative share of journalists occupying the different positions in this this space today compared to, for instance, 30 years ago, 130 years ago, and 30 years into the future. Large-scale overviews of developments in news industry employment (e.g., as in the recurring State of the News Media reports produced by the Pew Research Centre, see for example Mitchell, Holcomb, & Weisel, 2016) go some way towards addressing this question, but a more detailed analysis of the composition of the occupational collective is needed. 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The Space of Journalistic Work: A Theoretical Model

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Abstract

Abstract Attempts to define journalism are often normative in nature but do not add to our theoretical understanding of what journalism is. There is a need for journalism scholarship to recognize explicitly that journalism is a space in which participants are not equal—or even similar—in terms of status, influence, work tasks, and working conditions. This paper offers a theoretical model combining the field theory of Pierre Bourdieu with recent insights from the sociology of work in order to articulate how journalistic work is stratified across three dimensions: journalistic capital, resource access, and material security. These dimensions create a space in which to place different types of journalistic work in order to make sense of contemporary journalism. Introduction: Journalism as a space Journalism as an occupation has historically been characterized by fluid boundaries. There have been few barriers to entry, little in the way of formal educational requirements, and plenty of opportunities to drift in and out of journalism. Journalism was long an activity that more often was a sideline rather than a full-time occupation. Considering this, it does at first seem curious that classificatory questions like “Who is a journalist?,” “Is X journalism?,” and “Is X ‘real’ journalism?” (where X can be substituted for Twitter, Wikipedia, crowdsourcing, Instagram, or whatever the fad-of-the-month is among journalists) have had such a strong hold over journalism scholarship. However, if we view these classificatory questions more from a normative than a descriptive angle, their prominence is less surprising: as Carlson writes, “Contests over journalism’s boundaries are symbolic contests in which different actors vie for definitional control to apply or remove the label of journalism” (Carlson, 2015, p. 2). Definition is a matter of status, and not only symbolic status, for as Carlson (2015, p.2) continues, “Gains in symbolic resources translate into material rewards.” In this article we combine the symbolic and the material aspects of journalistic work through the merging of Bourdieu’s field theory with attention to the material conditions of such work (the latter aspect was underemphasized in Bourdieu’s field theory but is increasingly coming to the fore in contemporary journalism research, e.g., Gollmitzer, 2014; Phillips, Couldry, & Freedman, 2010; Van Leuven, Deprez, & Raeymaeckers, 2014) in order to contribute to the ongoing theorizing of journalism’s boundaries. Furthermore, the persistence of what we could call “boundary questions” in journalism research also demonstrates the enormous influence that the historical institutionalization of journalism (beginning in the late 19th century with the emergence of the mass newspaper and solidified in the mid-20th century through the consolidation of mass newspapers and the emergence of public service and commercial broadcasting) has had for understanding the field. Many of the classificatory questions presented are only meaningful in a context where almost all journalistic work is done by people who are employed—commonly in permanent, full-time roles—by traditional media organizations. This institutional framework has changed, and journalism with it. Production and distribution of news content is now done far beyond the walls of traditional news organizations. Questions of where journalism ends and “not-journalism” begins have become even more persistent in a media landscape characterized by ubiquitous social media, changing news ecologies, and a more active audience (Anderson, 2011; Domingo & Le Cam, 2014; Lewis, 2012). However, while the boundaries (such as they are) of journalism have been scrutinized thoroughly, there are fewer attempts to theoretically map the factors that underpin journalistic work and explain how very different categories of workers end up sharing the same doxa (tacit presuppositions and values). Yet it is worth pointing out that many contemporary practices and developments in journalism that are viewed as disruptive were, in fact, once the normal way of organizing journalistic work. The three leading writers for the Times of London (under editor John Walter II) in 1808 were a rural clergyman, a military officer, and a political satirist who worked for the Times when on holiday from debtor’s prison (these three characters were, respectively, Peter Fraser, Edward Sterling, and Walter Combe; see Fox Bourne, 1887, p. 284; Robinson, 1869, p. 153f); none of them were on permanent contracts and all had journalism as a sideline rather than their main occupation. Were they perhaps “citizen journalists” (or even “guest bloggers”) who happened to use the Times as their platform? There is a need for journalism scholarship to recognize explicitly what has always been true: that journalism is best understood as an amorphous set of activities where participants are not equal or even similar in terms of status, influence, work tasks, and working conditions. Journalism includes the star reporter as well as the penny-a-liner; the investigative journalist as well as the op-ed writer; the foreign correspondent as well as the chess correspondent; the editor of the local weekly as well as the editor of the national prestige daily paper; the citizen reporter as well as the full-time employee of the evening news bulletin; it includes the subeditor, the intern, the news photographer, and the editor at the online news aggregator. Yet so much research and commentary still uses the (increasingly mythological) hard news reporter on a full-time permanent contract at a legacy news organization as the model journalist. Given that this model of a journalist has an increasingly tenuous connection to reality, we see a need for a more fine-grained and diverse typology of journalistic work. One of the key changes to journalism is that it is again becoming (just as it was in the mid- to late-19th century) a field where fluid internal movement (in and out of permanent employment; shifting work tasks and work roles; dropping or rising in status) is the norm, rather than the exception. In this paper, we propose a model that articulates how journalistic work is stratified across three dimensions: journalistic capital, access to resources, and material security (see Figure 1). The contribution of this model is its combination of a Bourdieusian perspective, focused on the shared and tacit knowledges and values of work, with an attention to the material conditions and aspects of journalistic work. By material, we primarily refer to the material resources attached to the activity of journalism (e.g., a regular salary, access to a professional support structure, extra resources available for special assignments and long-term work, etc.). This is a more classical Marxist sense of the word, compared to how the concepts of material and materiality have recently been used in journalism studies, where the inspiration has rather come from science and technology studies, and material mainly refers to the characteristics of the technological devices and systems used in contemporary journalism (as in the special journal issue edited by Anderson and De Maeyer, 2015, for example). Figure 1 View largeDownload slide The space of journalistic work. Figure 1 View largeDownload slide The space of journalistic work. Together, these three dimensions (one symbolic, two material) create a metaphorical space in which different journalistic occupations, their work, and their output can be placed. The model is aimed at mapping and understanding the metaphorical space in which the individual journalist(s) maneuver. This model contributes to the field of journalism studies, in that it brings together and synthesizes previous research on both symbolic and material factors that structure journalistic work. For the symbolic part, we draw on Bourdieu’s field theory, but also note that while his field theory has become a common reference point in journalism research, such research mostly limits itself to discussing what constitutes desirable traits, norms, and performances in journalism (e.g., Hanitzsch, 2011; Schultz, 2007). In other words, journalism scholars have focused on Bourdieu’s concept of habitus, or the social dimension of journalism, to the exclusion of other key aspects of the field theory. We argue that more emphasis must be placed on the material aspects of journalism: the working conditions and resources available for the individual journalist. In the current moment, the basic material conditions of journalism have deteriorated to the point that prospective journalists have to look long and hard to find any job positions or even any prosperous and functioning media organizations to work for, irrespective of the symbolic capital these journalists may possess (Gollmitzer, 2014; Nel, 2010; Phillips et al., 2010; Reinardy, 2011). Thus, using the “model journalist” as a template to understand journalistic work increasingly becomes misleading. Synthesizing Bourdieu’s idea of symbolic capital with labor theory in general and research on working conditions for journalists in particular, as well as with what can be broadly referred to as organizational studies of journalistic work, creates a model of a metaphorical space that allows for a more elaborate and diversified understanding of the preconditions for many kinds of contemporary and historical journalistic work, as well as the position of individuals within this space. We will outline the three dimensions that structure the space of journalistic work, as well as provide historical and contemporary examples of journalistic workers who inhabit the various parts of this space. To be clear, the purpose of this theoretical model is not to predict the level of changes in the journalistic workforce, but is rather an analytical instrument that can be used to better understand the challenges and changes that journalism faces. The actual impact of these changes must be subjected to empirical studies, and we argue that this model could inform such empirical studies. The model should be seen as a heuristic tool rather than a map of reality onto which all possible cases can be plotted. Our position vis-à-vis the ongoing discussions of journalism’s boundaries is not one where we are primarily interested in suggesting a new or alternative definition of these boundaries, but rather, following the perspective set forth in Carlson & Lewis (2015), to try to understand what these boundaries mean and how they have manifested historically. Our own definition of journalism (or rather, journalistic work) is at heart pragmatic: every practitioner who shares the journalistic doxa (see the following section) belongs in our analytical space, regardless of whether considered highbrow or lowbrow. The three dimensions explained Our model of the space of journalistic work departs from the work of Pierre Bourdieu (Benson & Neveu, 2005; Bourdieu, 2005; Lindell, 2015), specifically his field theory or field model. According to Bourdieu, modern societies with a high degree of division of labor divide themselves into various fields (Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992). A field is a social microcosm in which players (participants) struggle over positions. What unites the players in a field is the belief that the game is worth playing (illusio), and thus players share the same “tacit presuppositions” (doxa). In the case of journalism, doxa would, for example, include the ideal of objectivity, as well as what journalists themselves refer to as a journalistic “gut feeling” (Schultz, 2007). Social differentiation within fields is not only set by asymmetries in access to material resources (e.g., economic capital), but also in the possession of symbolic resources that are collectively recognized and legitimized as capital (Bourdieu, 1986; Bourdieu & Wacquant, 1992). The merit of field theory for understanding journalistic work is that it does not rely on any preconceived definition of the journalist, but instead focuses on participants in the journalistic field: that is, all social agents who, to various extents, have internalized journalistic norms and goals and recognize the stakes at play in the field—agents that share a journalistic doxa and illusio. The doxa is pronounced and reinforced when journalism creates for itself certain “god terms” (such as facts, objectivity, and reality; Zelizer, 2004) and when observers of this field feel able to make a 10-point list of what the elements of journalism really are (e.g., Kovach & Rosenstiehl, 2001). We are certainly not unique in this Bourdieusian approach, but, as we hope to demonstrate, previous journalism research based on Bourdieu’s field theory has had a different focus than ours and/or downplayed the material aspects related to the work conducted within the field. The main attraction of Bourdieu’s field model is that it proposes that the players in the field have unequal chances of success depending on both their social trajectories and their volume of field-specific resources (journalistic capital; Hovden, 2008). This principle of division in the space of journalistic work is central in our model. It must first be noted that journalism research based on Bourdieu’s field theory has tended to focus on mental structures: that is, how values, norms, and practices of journalists are formed (Gardeström, 2017; Hovden, 2008) and enacted in boundary-work (Hanitzsch, 2011; Hovden, 2012; Schultz, 2007; Vos, Craft, & Ashley, 2012). The organizational context in which a journalist works and the form of employment she has tend to be viewed as outcomes of the volume of accumulated journalistic capital (Hovden, 2012; Hovden & Knapskog, 2015) rather than as factors of differentiation within the field. In times of increasingly precarious media work, this is not necessarily the case. Even journalists with high status within the field (i.e., a high level of journalistic capital) may find themselves out of a job, and people who start out at the margins of the field can quickly rise to become full-time employees. There is thus good reason to take into account the materiality of journalistic work by treating the levels of resource access and material security as central, definitional dimensions in their own right. Even though an individual journalist may possess the same journalistic capital as she did 20 years ago, her working conditions are likely very different today (see, for example, Gollmitzer, 2014, on the working conditions of freelance journalists; Reinardy, 2011, on burnout among journalists; and Phillips et al., 2010, on the hypercompetitive working environment of U.K. tabloid journalists). Furthermore, although researchers working with field theory acknowledge the inclusion of citizen journalists in the field (Vos et al., 2012), field theory still has too strong a focus on individuals who are visible in larger media outlets, rather than including all individuals working within the journalistic doxa. Placing journalistic work on a scale that describes the level of access to resources (referring to the material resources the organization you work for puts at your disposal) then becomes necessary for the reasons set out previously. The important thing here is not the nature and character of the organization itself, as, for example, even a less well-resourced organization may give great resources to its star journalists and, conversely, a well-resourced organization will not give equal access to all of its resources to all of its employees. Today, as both journalistic work and the journalistic doxa itself are becoming increasingly uncoupled from the traditional organizational framework of journalism, it is becoming more and more relevant to view the resources provided by such organizations (and their alternatives) as a sliding scale; different organizations have different resources, some journalistic work may be performed with almost no organizational framework, and even within the same organization journalists in different positions may be integrated into the organizational framework to very different degrees. Third and finally, the dimension of material security (meaning whether the practitioner is paid a regular salary for his or her work and whether the contractual relationship between the journalist and the employer is stable and long-term) is also essential to setting and maintaining the material boundaries of the field. Professionalism research shows us that the maintenance of doxa in a field over time (though professionalism researchers tend to refer to this as “professional norms and values” rather than doxa, the terms largely have the same denotation) actually requires stable and continuous employment (e.g., Abbott, 1988; Freidson, 2001; Sarfatti Larson, 1977). If a precarious contractual situation is the norm for those in the occupation, it becomes much more difficult to formulate and mobilize doxa for the purposes of field independence, or to actually create journalism as a field autonomous (or at least semiautonomous) from other fields. A field needs a critical mass of practitioners who do not constantly have to worry about their belonging to the field in the first place. This dimension, like the preceding one, reflects the current material conditions of the field; journalists can no longer count on being employed in permanent, full-time positions with large, stable organizations, and therefore will be more mobile through the space of journalistic work. While these three dimensions (journalistic capital; access to resources; material security) are all interlinked, they are also functionally independent. In fact, the very point of the model is to not conflate the dimensions, even though they may correlate to some extent. High-level access to resources often correlates with a high degree of material security, but this is not always the case. Field occupants can have access to many resources but still not enjoy a high degree of material security, and vice versa: occupants can have a low level of access to resources yet enjoy relatively high levels of material security (examples of such instances will be provided in our discussion of the model). In the following sections, we outline and explain the three dimensions. Following that, we show how the three dimensions can be combined into eight different kinds of journalistic work. We will illustrate the different positions in the model with examples demonstrating the applicability of the model. Journalistic capital (high/low) Journalistic capital deals with “the effects that the people engaged in this microcosm [the journalistic field] exert on one another” (Bourdieu, 2005, p. 33). The X-axis of our model refers to the degree to which journalists (or, players in the journalistic field) are in possession of the symbolic resources that are collectively recognized as valuable in the field. It has been shown by a number of theoretical and empirical inquiries (e.g., Benson, 1998; Benson & Neveu, 2005; Bourdieu, 1998, 2005; Hanitzsch, 2011; Neveu, 2007) that the world of journalism can fruitfully be thought of as a social field, and journalists as players who, to various degrees, have accumulated journalistic capital (Hellmueller, Vos, & Poepsel, 2013; Hovden, 2012; Hovden & Knapskog, 2015; Schultz, 2007). We are thus dealing with social agents whose positions in the journalistic field depend on the extent to which they are in possession of symbolic journalistic capital. Following Hovden, examples of qualities that constitute such capital could be “having won a national journalistic prize, being a columnist in a large newspaper, being on the jury on a renowned journalistic prize, holding a national office in the press organizations, etc.” (Hovden, 2008, p. 177). We may thus find it unlikely that a citizen journalist blogging about lifestyle and health issues be awarded a journalistic prize, precisely because the field does not recognize such journalism as “good” or proper, and subsequently not as journalistic capital. Consequently, this kind of capital functions as a central force that journalists draw upon in order to differentiate amongst themselves (Hovden, 2008). Journalistic capital not only gives prestige and sway in the journalistic world; it may have material consequences as well, and thus it is linked to our two other dimensions (access to resources and material security). For example, journalists with higher amounts of journalistic capital are less likely to lead precarious working lives, and more likely to have access to the resources they need in order to do their job: “For a journalist, the degree of autonomy will depend on one’s position in the journalistic field” (Bourdieu, 2005, p. 43–44). A high volume of journalistic capital “follows an organization hierarchy in news organizations” (Hovden, 2012, p. 64). Vice versa, journalists with low levels of journalistic capital are more likely to be found in “precarious job situations” (Hovden & Knapskog, 2015, p. 795). Those lacking journalistic capital tend to work in local media organizations, serve as technical specialists, and deal with “softer” news topics (sports, leisure, health; Hovden, 2012), and thus have less access to the resources provided by the organization in which they work. With our model, we wish to emphasize that in the contemporary media ecology, journalistic capital is not correlated with stable working conditions in a linear fashion. As media work tends to become more precarious, it may force journalists to brand themselves individually, and thus to rely on their journalistic capital in order to remain a journalist despite having been deprived of an institutional setting (Wiik & Hedman, 2015). Thus, in the contemporary context, having a full-time position in a prestigious legacy media organization might well be a defining aspect of journalistic capital. This leads us on to our next dimension, access to resources. Access to resources (high/low) Access to resources is the Z-axis in our model and refers to what could also be called the infrastructure of journalism: the degree of economic, managerial, collegial, and technological resources available to individual journalists in the immediate context in which they perform their work. In the traditional model of journalism (described in the introductory section), these resources are provided by the news organization for which the journalist works: the news organization remunerates journalists, provides resources (e.g., hardware, knowledge, colleagues) for carrying out journalistic work, and provides an administrative and collegiate framework for carrying out this work, as well as a system for how internal actors can be connected with external ones (i.e., access to sources), all of which are activities conducted within a framework aimed at producing news with a fixed periodicity (Hamilton, 2004). The importance of such resources can especially be noted amongst those that lack them, such as citizen journalists (cf., Fico et al., 2013; Örnebring, 2013; Reich, 2008). As the resources of traditional news organizations are dwindling and alternative forms for organizing and financing journalism emerge, this dimension becomes more, rather than less, salient. Journalists working for a big media organization have the resources and support to carry out their work but may be more directly vulnerable to managerial decisions and peer pressure. The resources, or lack thereof, of the organization will also affect how successful it will be in drawing attention to its products. Peters and Broersma (2013, p. 5) label the structural changes in the news business a “de-industrialization of information,” where the news industry no longer can be organized according to principles of scale. Dwindling resources will make news infrastructures more difficult to maintain (Picard, 2006) as journalists are laid off and/or have to produce more with less. Anderson (2011) observes that the traditional newsroom has “blown up” and that both the metaphorical and literal walls of the newsroom are shifting dramatically. This development will also lead to considerably different preconditions for performing journalistic work. Although the infrastructure in general is weakening, this will not affect all journalistic outlets or journalists equally (Hamilton, 2004; Ryfe, 2012), leading to an increased stratification between those outlets that can maintain a stronger organizational framework and those who cannot. This, in turn, will affect how the journalistic work will be performed, distributed, and consumed, as a stronger organizational framework will provide more resources but also mean more extraoccupational (managerial) control. The journalistic profession and its routines and autonomy have long been embedded in an industrial logic of production, and when this industrial logic changes, the profession will change with it. Material security (high/low) We take material security, the Y-axis in our model, to mean the degree of contractual and financial security for the individual worker. This dimension, to a large extent, relates to whether and how much you get paid for the work performed and the contractual form under which you work, but also to elements such as the extent of social security, medical benefits, retirement funds, paid vacation, period of notice, working on incentive, and so forth, fundamentally affecting the conditions under which one performs journalistic work. As with our other dimensions, material security should be understood as a continuum where various forms of journalistic work differ in terms of salary levels, material and immaterial benefits, and contractual status. For example, a successful news blogger without any employment contract may still be guaranteed some measure of security through online advertising revenue streams. Precarity is a term commonly used to characterize such new (or semi-new) forms of insecure, contingent, and flexible work (Brophy & de Peuter, 2007; Gill & Pratt, 2008; McKercher, 2014; de Peuter, 2014; Ross, 2009; Standing, 2011). Such work forms are currently said to increase due to a number of trends: changes wrought by the so-called digital or “new” economy (Head, 2003); the increased globalization of work and the concomitant increase in global work inequality (Standing, 2009; Williams, Bradley, Devadson, & Erickson, 2013); the rise and spread of specific forms of organizing work, for example project work and other organizational forms designed for a more liquid, less predictable workflow (Hodgson & Briand, 2013; Melik, 2007); and the decreased power of labor unions (Flanagan, 2006; Howell, 2005). Precarity was once the norm in journalism: few journalists were employed on permanent, full-time contracts, but were instead paid on a per-item basis. Even the most prestigious types of correspondents were often not paid a regular salary, but rather were paid a retainer (King & Plunkett, 2004; Lee, 1976). When James Perry, proprietor of the Morning Chronicle in Britain in the early 1800s, decided to pay his political correspondents a full annual salary, it was considered an innovative and risky move: normally correspondents were not paid over the Parliament recess period (Hunt, 1850, p. 196). Today, international research indicates that we are witnessing a return to employment conditions that are reminiscent of the 19th century (e.g., Fast, Örnebring, & Karlsson, 2016; Nygren & Dobek-Ostrowska, 2015; Walters, Warren, & Dobbie, 2006; Weischenberg, Malik, & Scholl, 2006). In journalism, as in many other media/cultural industry fields, employers generally use unpaid and contingent work as a resource-saving device (Compton & Benedetti, 2010; Lee-Wright, Phillips, & Witschge, 2012), for example through increased outsourcing of content production, subediting, and layout to domestic or international contractors or freelancers (Bakker, 2012; Örnebring & Ferrer Conill, 2016; Picard, 2006) and by conducting more work on a project basis (Deuze, 2007). We are also increasingly seeing a functional integration of unpaid work into many occupations, particularly at the entry level (Fast et al., 2016; Perlin, 2012; Ross, 2013); that is, in order to be employable, you first have to perform a lot of work on spec or as an unpaid intern. Frequently, unpaid work and contingent employment contracts within the occupation are interpreted as a key factor influencing the de-professionalization of journalism (e.g., Örnebring, 2016; Witschge & Nygren, 2009). If certain forms of journalism are increasingly unpaid or very low-paid (Bakker, 2012), then “you get what you pay for.” Detailing the model Before describing the different spaces in our model, there are some points that we must clarify. First, any individual can move through this space and occupy different spaces over the course of a career. You can move up from being a messenger boy to being a writer, as it were. Conversely, you can be laid off from a permanent position and instead become a freelancer and run a hyperlocal news site in your spare time. Second, we focus on emphasizing variance in journalistic work and pointing to the outliers in the journalistic space we have defined, rather than the work that can be considered “normal” (if there is indeed any normal work in journalism). Third and finally, it is important to stress that a key purpose of our model is to present a way of understanding journalistic work that moves away from the “journalist-residing-in-house” model. In detailing the different parts of journalistic space, we will move from those with a weaker position to those with a stronger position. Low material security, low access to resources, low journalistic capital Recent discourse about news producers as “citizen” (Gillmor, 2004) or “grassroots” (Allan, 2009; Karlsson & Holt, 2014) journalists points to the blurring boundaries of the journalistic field, and hence also to the need to recognize a wide spectrum of journalistic work in any discussion of the changing conditions of news production. At one end of this spectrum, we find individuals who produce journalistic content without necessarily being recognized—or even considering themselves—as journalists in the traditional sense of the term. Historically, this space of journalistic work, weak in all three dimensions, would be exemplified by the penny-a-liner (King & Plunkett, 2004, p. 42), a low-status journalist producing low-status content on a per-item basis with no permanent connection to a resource-providing organization. Today, this do-it-yourself news producer is perhaps best exemplified by the amateur blogger who engages affectively in producing and distributing news online, without necessarily having any journalistic education or background to speak of. He or she may well adhere to the journalistic doxa (e.g., by subscribing to journalistic ideals such as objectivity), yet as someone without particular prestige or recognition in the journalistic field, this news producer scores low in terms of journalistic capital. Being in dispossession of journalistic capital, many news bloggers also find themselves working largely independently, without apparent connections to established news organizations. Hence, they generally have a low degree of access to resources. A news blogger may offer to sell a news organization her amateur photos, video clips, or texts. However, in most cases, the work of these individuals remains completely unpaid and few contracts are actually signed, which is why their working conditions are characterized by a low level of material security. Low material security, high access to resources, low journalistic capital While many amateur news reporters operate entirely outside of an organizational context, there are also those who are tied to one or several news organizations, just as there were penny-a-liners who may have had stronger attachments to a particular news organization and therefore could rely on somewhat better resources (King & Plunkett, 2004). For example, many bloggers publish their work on aggregated news sites, like Ohmy news (a Korean news portal whose motto is “Every citizen is a journalist”; see Kim & Hamilton, 2006) or Gawker (“the source for daily Manhattan media news and gossip”). Both news sites provide the blogger with—comparatively speaking—high access to resources that include, for instance, paid staff members and technical support. However, even when the organizational framework is relatively strong, the level of material security may still be low. Access to resources does not necessarily equal a risk-free and secure employment. For instance, while certain aggregated news sites (like Gawker) do offer their contributors some payment, much of their blog news content is produced voluntarily. As it says on Ohmy news: “We are looking for volunteers who are passionate about citizen journalism” (http://international.ohmynews.com/join-our-team/). The voluntary work performed by interns at news organizations serves as another example of when access to resources does not guarantee a nonprecarious working situation. While interns might reach certain levels of social security in terms of welfare and work-related benefits the nature of internships as both temporally limited and unpaid renders occupational precarity high (e.g., Salamon, 2015). In terms of journalistic capital, neither the blogger nor the intern can be expected to possess any large amount of such capital (although the intern at a renowned news organization may accumulates more as his or her career advances). High material security, low access to resources, low journalistic capital The typical example of journalists enjoying a measure of occupational stability but with a relatively low level of access to resources and with low journalistic capital would be the employee (or even editor) of a small legacy local news organization. The historical precedent here is the printer/editor of early (18th- to 19th-century) newspapers: news organizations that were, in the words of Michael Schudson, essentially “one-man bands” (Schudson, 1978, p. 65). There are still many small local newspapers in many parts of the world which operate with skeleton staffs but who still have a virtual local advertising monopoly, creating an organizational framework that is not resource-rich but is stable enough to sustain employing one or even a few people on permanent contracts. Within this framework, journalists may also have to do a lot of general production work themselves. In a very small newspaper, there may not be a separate advertising department, for example, so the editor may also be the ad sales person, raising concerns about conflicts of interest (Donohue, Tichenor, & Olien, 1995). Journalists may have to write not only on many different subjects, but also many different types of content (e.g., reportage, nibs, obituaries, commentary), and may have to be their own photographers/videographers. The lack of specialization (where work may even include noneditorial tasks), coupled with the low prestige associated with working for very small, local news outlets results in a low degree of journalistic capital. Yet the steady paycheck and contractual stability sets journalists in this space apart from some journalists with considerably higher journalistic capital. High material security, high access to resources, low journalistic capital Not all journalists in high-status news organizations are themselves high-status. Many editorial employees in big regional newspapers or TV stations, national dailies/weeklies, and well-regarded specialist news publications are not, as a rule, going to win accolades and the widespread admiration of colleagues everywhere. Hard-working subeditors, the editors and journalists of family/lifestyle sections, nonstar sports writers, those producing and updating content for the organizational web page without a byline—all of these categories of people are undoubtedly journalists, but enjoy a low degree of journalistic capital. They work outside high-status subject areas and/or with different and more administrative work tasks than the star reporters and columnists. Journalists working in less prestigious or nonprestigious subject areas and/or with more prosaic work tasks still enjoy the benefits of access to the resources of an established legacy organization (or otherwise resource-strong regional news outlet) and their employment is generally fairly secure, especially for those who have editorial and supervisory responsibilities. Their positions may not be very threatened by economic restructuring, but the subeditor or the editor of the travel supplement are not likely to win Pulitzers, either. This part of the space of journalistic work indicates that, despite the fact that the journalistic capital of the organization generally translates into a higher journalistic capital for the individuals working there (Hovden, 2012; Hovden & Knapskog, 2015), this is not always nor uniformly the case. Low material security, low access to resources, high journalistic capital The people inhabiting this corner of our model are not journalists in the sense that we have come to define them in the latter part of the 20th century. They are not employed by a media organization and they have no access to the resources and infrastructure of such organizations. However, their peers in the journalistic field appreciate their production of journalistic content, which can be published on their own platforms for dissemination. Historically, leader/op-ed writers occupied this space: commonly these were men with high status from other fields (law, politics, religion, culture) who produced commentary as a sideline but whose activities were still accorded high respect and status in the journalistic field (Lee, 1976, p. 110). Occupants of this space today include, for example, the journalism graduate with a diploma from an elite university who has yet to find employment. She enjoys institutionally-sanctioned journalistic capital and produces content that is considered more or less legitimate in the journalistic field. We may also find the seasoned journalist who has been laid off from a larger media firm but, rather than freelancing, tries to carve out her own niche in the media landscape. This could be done by starting a specialist site reporting on a specific set of topics or by launching a site for (hyper)local news, for example. However, such outlets rarely have reliable infrastructure (Ryfe, 2012), and therefore offer limited resources for employees. These actors will thus often suffer from low material security despite having a high level of journalistic capital. Low material security, high access to resources, high journalistic capital In this corner of our model we find journalists enjoying high access to resources: they have access to the prerequisites they need for the production of journalistic output. Furthermore, the work done by the journalists occupying this space in our model is held in high regard: they possess journalistic capital. Still, it is a precarious corner. These journalists are, for various reasons, not fully employed at a media organization. A Swedish example would be when reporters at Aftonbladet (the biggest evening daily) and Dagens Nyheter (the biggest prestige morning daily) were laid off by their respective employers only to be rehired for significantly lower wages via staffing agencies owned by the respective mother companies of these papers (Byttner, 2014; Nesser, 2015). These journalists found themselves in a precarious occupational situation, but still very much embedded in the same well-resourced organizational framework and still conducting journalistic work considered of high value by peers in the journalistic field. In terms of traditional journalism, freelancers who provide legacy media with “hard news” also occupy this space. This may now extend to other kinds of journalistic work. Given the increasingly precarious character of media work (Deuze, 2007), we may expect a growing share of journalists to populate this part of the journalistic space. High material security, high access to resources, high journalistic capital In the top front left corner we will find journalists who have a stable contractual relationship with a relatively large media institution such as the BBC, New York Times, MSNBC, Wall Street Journal, or a larger regional media group, enjoying material security with a high level of access to resources. In order to achieve this position the journalist must possess high enough journalistic capital to maintain or increase the organization’s status in the field. In return, the organization provides the journalist with resources and support, making sure that it is aligned for the benefit of the journalist. The organization can also put the limelight on and further elevate the journalist by, for instance, giving him/her a column or promoting them to an expert reporter on a high-profile subject such as politics or economics. Classic examples of journalists with high journalistic capital and high access to resources would include names such as Walter Cronkite (CBS), Tom Brokaw (NBC), Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward (Washington Post), or 19th-century journalistic stars like George A. Sala (Wiener, 1994, p. 65). The importance of this kind of journalist for the organization and their mutual dependency also means that they will have high material security, as their working conditions will be better than other journalists’ within the organization will. In fact, there seems to be an increased importance of high-profile journalists for the organization, as the salaries for news anchors multiplied between 1970 and 2000 (Hamilton, 2004), in stark contrast to the development of the field as a whole. Subsequently, the journalists residing in this space of the model have had their precarity decreased while almost all of the other positions, save the upcoming ones, have had their precarity increased. This indicates that the space in our model has expanded over the last decades; the differences between various forms of journalistic work have increased. In addition, although ultimately an empirical question, it is probable that the relative share of journalists occupying this space have decreased over time. Furthermore, as the balance between the high-profile journalists and the organization tilts in the favor of the journalists, they can weigh anchor and become independent. High material security, low access to resources, high journalistic capital Journalists occupying the final position in our model can be considered independent stars. These journalists share some features with freelancers and citizens journalists, as they do not rely on (nor do they sometimes even need) the access to resources provided by a large media institution. The key difference between these journalists and the other nonaffiliated journalists is the price they can command for their texts. The high journalistic capital of these players means the possibility to be self-employed in a successful, small, private business from where they can pick and choose the most interesting and lucrative proposals. In addition, the resources earned do not have to be shared within a larger organizational framework in order to finance other, less successful journalists or support staff. Consequently, these journalists will enjoy high material security, as either their previous success might guarantee a steady stream of income or they may have accumulated so much money as to be economically independent. A Norwegian example of a journalist occupying this space would be Åsne Seierstad. Seierstad became not only the best-paid journalist in Norway after the release of her bestselling book, The Bookseller of Kabul, but also the best-paid cultural worker in the country (Gynnild, 2005). Most of Seierstad’s early work was done as a (more precariously employed) freelance war reporter, which demonstrates that when a journalist strikes gold, they can move to a more stable and profitable part of the journalistic space. Conclusion Journalism has never been monolithic. It has been present in different formats (e.g., tabloid/broadsheet), on different media platforms (print/broadcast), different types (hard/soft, reporting/commentary), and different genres (politics/sports/culture/entertainment/etc). Regardless of this multifaceted nature, journalistic work in the late modern era has generally been understood as exclusive (i.e., of other forms/types of work) and practiced in a framework of stable contractual relationships in large organizations. Recent developments mean the diversified and hybridized nature of contemporary journalism is, in many ways, more similar to journalism as it was practiced and organized in the late 19th century than to 20th-century journalism doxa. The understanding of and point of entry into the debate of “who is a journalist” and “what is journalism” have been too reliant on the assumptions that underpinned late or high modern journalism (the latter a phrase used by Hallin, 1992, to describe a strong consensus on what journalism is and who practices it, centered around the role of the journalist as a neutral reporter of facts, employed by legacy news organizations, see Hallin, 1992). As it turns out, these assumptions have, in turn, rested on the economic health of specific sectors of the media industry (notably the newspaper press, commercial broadcasting, and news agencies). When these sectors have become less economically viable (for reasons too numerous to address in this article), the material conditions of contemporary journalism have become both more visible and more relevant to the analysis of journalism as work. It is in this context that we think that the space created by the three dimensions in our suggested model will help researchers by providing a broader approach to understanding journalism in historical, contemporary, and future contexts. The model provides newer and wider contours to a field that otherwise appears to disintegrate, to blur, and to be reliant on only one analytical dimension (e.g., journalistic capital). That said, the model does not aim to provide an authoritative answer of what journalistic work “really” is or where it begins and ends. A defining feature of the contemporary journalistic space outlined in this article is the disparity between the inhabitants as shaped by, and in interplay with, the material and symbolic aspects of the field. This disparity—polarization, even—has consequences for the autonomy, livelihood, and influence of individual journalists, both professionally and privately. Yet the doxa encompasses all inhabitants of the field, some more explicitly and consciously than others, and they consequently engage in acts of journalism. We know much about those occupying the high material security/high access to resources/high journalistic capital part of the journalistic space, but we know much less about the other parts, nor do we have very detailed knowledge of how actors move within this space. It is imperative to study this space empirically in a number of ways. First, we need to map and understand the inhabitants of this space, both in terms of simple quantity (how many are they?) and in terms of how firmly they are anchored in this space in relation to adjacent spaces or fields. It is also relevant to study their self-image as inhabitants of this space, especially those who occupy a space far away from that of a late modern journalist. Second, we need to understand how current developments in algorithms and automation affect the different positions in this space. Who are affected and how? Which parts of the space contain journalism that lends itself to automation and/or various algorithmic treatments? Can an algorithm possess journalistic capital? Third, we need to study movement within this space: how and why do individuals move up, down, in, or out of the space? For such endeavors one will need to operationalize the space we have discussed here (along the lines of the examples we have provided); some previous research has moved in this direction (Hovden, 2008), but could be further deepened by consideration of the additional dimensions of organizational framework and occupational precarity. Given the fact that precarity is increasing and the organizational frameworks are weakening, we can assume that journalistic capital will be of increased importance (on this note, see also Davidson and Meyer’s [2016] discussion on the value of various forms of capital within and outside of the field of journalism). Fourth, we need to map the relative share of journalists occupying the different positions in this this space today compared to, for instance, 30 years ago, 130 years ago, and 30 years into the future. Large-scale overviews of developments in news industry employment (e.g., as in the recurring State of the News Media reports produced by the Pew Research Centre, see for example Mitchell, Holcomb, & Weisel, 2016) go some way towards addressing this question, but a more detailed analysis of the composition of the occupational collective is needed. 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