9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN18 Sociology of Communications and Media Research

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 New Online Media Professionals Building AA, AA.325

European On-line Journalism: A Tension between the "Old" and the "New" Media Profession

This paper deals with the question of how the journalists perceive the implementation of the Internet in the context of their profession. The results of the empirical survey »The European Journalist and the Internet«, which includes 239 print and on-line journalists from 11 European countries (UK, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Greece and Slovenia), show that journalists could be divided into two opposing groups: the critics of on-line journalism on the one hand and the defenders of it on the other. Journalists, who either use the Internet daily or work mainly as on-line journalists, or both, tend to be in favour of on-line journalism. Journalists, who work exclusively in print media and do not use the Internet on a daily basis, are the strongest critics of on-line journalism. The country, from which these journalists come, plays an important role as well. UK, Finland, Lithuania and Sweden are the countries, where the attitude towards on-line journalism is a positive one. Journalists from Italy, Slovenia and Greece tend to be more critical or scared of on-line journalism. This extreme positioning of journalists in their attitude towards the Internet gives the picture of a rather black-and-white logic in their understanding of the new media. However, this division speaks in favor of the thesis that, from the journalistic point of view, the Internet is everything but a merely technical actor. It is a social and cultural phenomenon, which arouses conflicting perceptions. The analysis also shows that the division between the »real« and the »fake« journalism is in part created by journalists themselves. The problem that the journalistic community now faces is one of the redefinition of the currently questionable professional niche. As long as on-line journalism is treated separately from the classical journalistic profession, the Internet will be perceived as a challenge or a potential threat to the profession. If, within the journalistic community itself, on-line journalism is to become equally treated as the profession, then either a readjustment of the journalistic profession is required, or a thorough change is needed in the way the on-line journalism is supposed to work.