Journalism, Social Media, and Online Publics

Authored by: David Domingo

The Handbook of Journalism Studies

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138052888
eBook ISBN: 9781315167497
Adobe ISBN:


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As was already the case with the internet and the World Wide Web in the 1990s, and other earlier communication technologies before (Mosco, 2005), the relationship between journalism and social media is full of contradictions, hopes, and frustrations. Journalism studies scholars have approached this object of research with a sense of urgency. They have highlighted the disruptive effects of “networked gatekeeping and networked framing” (Meraz & Papacharissi, 2016; see also Chapter 6), but often concluded that there was a process of “normalization” (Hermida, 2013, p. 300) of the use of the technology in the newsrooms, similar to the taming of the radical potential of other communication technologies in modern history (Winston, 2002). Empirical data, therefore, put into perspective the utopian and dystopian discourses of professionals and some academics about the opportunities and risks for journalists and news organizations when they engage with social media as spaces for news diffusion and commentary. Social media are still perceived as the last frontier for journalism, offering the promise of the biggest audience reach, the possibility to interact with the public in their own space, and ultimately the perfect public sphere where everyone can have a voice. At the same time, these digital public spheres are characterized by the toughest competition for attention and advertising revenue, the acceleration of the fragmentation of audiences, and, in some cases, the worst nightmare for democracy, the proliferation of rumors and hate speech that spread like wildfire. The tendency for technological determinism inherent in humans in general and the journalistic profession in particular (Domingo, 2008) generated a hype that attracted the attention of academic research and enshrined social media as the epitomic laboratory for the observation of the contemporary crises and evolutions of journalism.

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