Journalism innovation and the ethic of participation : a case study of the Knight Foundation and its news challenge

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Title: Journalism innovation and the ethic of participation : a case study of the Knight Foundation and its news challenge
Author: Lewis, Seth Corwin
Abstract: The digitization of media has undermined much of the social authority and economic viability on which U .S . journalism relied during the 20th century . This disruption has also opened a central tension for the profession : how to reconcile the need for occupational control against growing opportunities for citizen participation . How that tension is navigated will affect the ultimate shape of the profession and its place in society . This dissertation examines how the leading nonprofit actor in journalism , The John S . and James L . Knight Foundation , has sought to help journalism innovate out of its professional crisis . This case study engages a series of mixed methods—including interviews , textual analysis , and secondary data analysis—to generate a holistic portrayal of how the Knight Foundation has attempted to transform itself and the journalism field in recent years , particularly through its signature Knight News Challenge innovation contest . From a sociology of professions perspective , I found that the Knight Foundation altered the rhetorical and actual boundaries of journalism jurisdiction . Knight moved away from “journalism” and toward “information” as a way of seeking the wisdom of the crowd to solve journalism’s problems . This opening up of journalism’s boundaries created crucial space in which innovators , from inside and outside journalism , could step in and bring change to the field . In particular , these changes have allowed the concept of citizen participation , which resides at the periphery of mainstream newswork , to become embraced as an ethical norm and a founding doctrine of journalism innovation . The result of these efforts has been the emergence of a new rendering of journalism—one that straddles the professional -participatory tension by attempting to “ferry the values” of professional ideals even while embracing new practices more suited to a digital environment . Ultimately , this case study matters for what it suggests about professions in turbulent times . Influential institutions can bring change to their professional fields by acting as boundary -spanning agents—stepping outside the traditional confines of their field , altering the rhetorical and structural borders of professional jurisdiction to invite external contribution and correction , and altogether creating the space and providing the capital for innovation to flourish .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /2152 /ETD -UT -2010 -08 -1640
Date: 2010-12-03

Citation

Journalism innovation and the ethic of participation : a case study of the Knight Foundation and its news challenge. Doctoral dissertation, University of Texas at Austin. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /2152 /ETD -UT -2010 -08 -1640 .

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