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Times change, journalism's role doesn't, journalists say

By Xu Tianbo | 2013-08-29 | Hits:
Chinese Social Sciences Today

On July 4th – 5th, the conference Redefining Journalism in the Era of Mass Press was hosted by the research network “Capturing Change in Journalism: Shifting Role Perceptions at the Turn of the 20th and 21st Centuries” at the University of Sheffield’s Interdisciplinary Center of the Social Sciences. The event attracted over one hundred of scholars from more than ten countries, including the U.S., Germany, the U.K., the Netherlands and Spain. Interdisciplinary discussions touched upon communication studies, linguistics, history and women’s studies.


In a presentation on “Boundary Work and the Rise of the Interview in The Netherlands and the UK”, Professor Marcel Broersma, director of the Centre for Journalism and Media Studies at the University of Groningen, stated that since its origin, journalism has undergone two profound historical changes: the rise of the mass press and commercial operation of the media in the late 19th century and early 20th century, and the widespread use of the internet and the emergence of internet-based media in contemporary times. Broersma clarified that where the former urged journalists to redefine their craft, the latter is altogether changing prior conceptions of journalism. However, Broersma pointed out that in spite of the significant influence these two changes have influenced on journalism, journalists themselves have kept a relatively stable vision of their own profession.


A notable feature of the conference was the interdisciplinary perspective different speakers employed. In her closing keynote speech, Professor Jane Chapman from the Lincoln School of Journalism at Lincoln University drew on the perspective of women’s studies, illustrating how newspapers have changed to target female readers so as to expand their profits from advertising. Speaking from a historical perspective, Professor Juan Carlos Sánchez Illán from the Department of Journalism and Audiovisual Communication at the University of Carlos III of Madrid discussed the Spanish model of journalism as a reflection of European cultural integration in the early 20th century.


“Capturing Change in Journalism: Shifting Role Perceptions at the Turn of the 20th and 21st Centuries” is an important research project funded by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).  Professor Broersma and Martin Conboy, a professor and director of Center for the Study of Journalism and History at the University of Sheffield co-presided over the event. According to the conference organizer, the second session of the event will be held in January, 2014 in the Netherlands, and Chinese scholars will be invited.


Translated by Wang Wei

Revised d by Charles Horne


The Chinese version appeared in Chinese Social Sciences Today, No. 474, July 12, 2013

Chinese link: http://www.csstoday.net/xueshuzixun/jishizixun/82279.html