Pioneer Journalism: The Re-Figuration of Journalism’s Organizational Foundations
The project, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), investigates how journalistic pioneers and pioneer communities envision an ideal future for journalism and, by that, actually shape the future of the field.
The transformation of journalism is closely related to the development of media technologies and is increasingly being driven outside established journalistic organizations by actors who operate at the periphery of the journalistic field. When looking at historical works on the development of the internet, it quickly becomes clear that certain groups we call "pioneer communities" can play a decisive role in transformation processes. Not only do they have a "sense of mission," but they also develop particular ideas of media-related change, which sometimes are even taken up by broader social discourses. Examples are the "Hacks/Hackers" groups who deal with data- and technology-driven journalism or so-called "constructive journalism," which represents a new form of reporting that revolves not only around problems, but also promotes promising solutions to them.
In this project that we conduct together with the Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research (ZeMKI) at the University of Bremen, we investigate what role such pioneer communities play in the transformation of journalism. Based primarily on qualitative interviews, the project examines how journalistic pioneers and pioneer communities imagine the future of the field and how they (want to) shape it.
Of particular interest in this context are journalists' role conceptions, their audience-relationships and their specific pioneering practices. The focus is on the consideration that what these actors imagine as the "future of journalism" and "innovation" cannot simply be understood as a collection of models that only need to be applied to contemporary mainstream journalism. Rather, it can be assumed that the influence of pioneers and pioneer communities on established journalism will develop indirectly, for example through changes in existing organizational models and a corresponding self-reflective discourse in journalism itself. It is through such indirect processes that the activities and ideas of pioneers and innovators gradually diffuse from the periphery of journalism into its centre.
Research programme: RP1 - Transformation of Public Communication