The impact of changing media technology on the practice of journalism

Knight, Margaret Anne (2016) The impact of changing media technology on the practice of journalism. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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The works presented here constitute an examination of the impact of new media technologies (focusing on social media) on the practice of journalism, with an emphasis on integrating empirical and sociological research. The use of a combination of content analysis, interviews and personal reflections and columns by journalists, case studies and observations, serves to verify and triangulate the evidence. The use of a comprehensive model to examine and analyse media products is a substantial contribution to the field of journalism studies. Previous studies that focused on new media technologies tended to either simply describe these technologies and their potential for change, or to analyse them purely in relationship to older technologies and processes, reducing both forms of practice to a tautological definition: each is that which the other is not. Taking a clear snapshot of the current landscape, and examining it without reference to specific technologies or past practices, the model allows for clear examination of relationships and practices, without being limited by the previous analyses.
A number of key themes emerge from research: the tension between the potential of new technologies to expand and improve journalistic practice and output is countered by the fear that the technology will render journalists and their practices redundant. The impact of economic forces is also apparent in the research. The economic structures that underpin journalism were undergoing substantial changes as new media was introduced, and have undergone additional changes as a result of the social and usage changes that technology has wrought. Technology cannot be abstracted from society and economics, and this interrelationship is apparent in the development of the model of the new media ecology which we developed.
The work expands on ideas of the first wave of sociological research into the practice of journalism, taking the methods and ideas and applying them to current environments. The iterative development of a model for the new media environments, and its application to empirical and observed research is a key contribution to the field.

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