Call for papers : Theories of journalism in a digital age


CFP : Theories of journalism in a digital age

Special issue of Digital Journalism (Routledge : Taylor&  Francis Group)

Guest editors : Steen Steensen and Laura Ahva


Journalism studies has in recent decades paid much attention to the consequences of digitalization to journalistic practices, cultures and institutions. Even though the variety of approaches to studying journalism in a digital age has increased, there is still a tendency to study new phenomena through the lens of established theories of journalism. There is therefore a need to reassess theories of journalism in order to better explain journalism’s changing role in a digital age.

Theories of journalism are usually depicted as falling in line with the different perspectives of sociology, history, political science, language and culture. Journalism has been portrayed as crucial in shaping citizen’s identities ; as a facilitator of the public sphere operating in-between the state and society ; as a carrier of symbols shaping cultural belonging and interpretation ; as an essential carrier of freedom of expression ; and as a profession that upholds values and ideals crucial to a functioning democracy. Today these normative assumptions that have underpinned much of journalism studies need to be scrutinized in a new environment affected by the diffusion and socialization of digital technologies.

This special issue of Digital Journalism welcomes contributions that reassess theories of journalism related to digitalization and the normative assumptions underpinning most of journalism studies, especially regarding the relationship between journalism and democracy. It is, however, important to note that even though this call for papers takes processes of digitalization as its starting point, the special issue does not intend to promote deterministic theories. On the contrary, contributions that critically question the assumed causal relationship between digital technologies and the changing practices and cultures of journalism are welcomed. In addition, contributions that look beyond journalism and include other relevant media professions/practices are appreciated. Moreover, even if the main focus of this call for papers is on theory, empirical studies that contribute to the generation of new theoretical knowledge are welcomed, too.

Abstracts responding to this call should contain an outline of the main argument proposed ; how this argument reassesses existing theories of journalism or relates journalism to new theories ; and the empirical grounds of the argument. Based on an initial review of abstracts, and prior to a peer review of selected papers, prospective authors will have the opportunity to present drafts of their papers in designated panels at the Nordmedia2013 conference in Oslo, Norway, 8–11 August 2013. Please consult the conference web site for details :


Deadlines:Abstract (no more than 500 words) : 15. January 2013

Paper submission to guest editors and peer review : 1. October 2013

Final (revised paper) submission to guest editors : 31. January 2014

Publication : Late 2014 / Early 2015

Abstracts should be e-mailed to the guest editors at

Steen Steensen is Associate professor at the Department of Journalism and Media Studies, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Norway.

Laura Ahva is Researcher at the Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, and Lecturer, School of Communication, Media& Theatre, University of Tampere, Finland