#instajournalism : The Boundaries of Journalism in the Age of Social Media Influencing
Valkonen, Tiia (2019)
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This thesis explores the professional boundaries between journalism and social media influencing. Since the arrival of social media, influencers have emerged in the journalistic sphere of producing and disseminating information of public relevance. The aim of this study is to find out how journalists discursively (re)construct the boundaries of their profession in relation to these new journalistic actors. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with five participants from four media organizations about the use of the social media platforms Instagram, YouTube, and/or Snapchat. Critical discursive psychological concepts of interpretative repertoire and subject position were employed to analyze the interview data. The results of this study suggest that influencer content on lifestyle topics was constructed by the participants as having journalistic characteristics or being journalism. Furthermore, the concept of boundaries between journalism and influencing seemed to be a more familiar construction for journalists with young target audiences. Two prevalent interpretative repertoires with subject positions were found in the data: repertoire of adaptation and repertoire of resistance. Repertoire of adaptation emerged when three participants with young target audiences talked about how journalists (need to) adopt the authenticity norm associated with social media influencers in order to build trust between themselves and audiences. Repertoire of resistance emerged in the discourses of four participants, including those with young target audiences, when they talked about how journalists (need to) maintain the journalistic norm of autonomy from advertisers and audiences in order to build trust between themselves and audiences. This study indicates that especially journalists with young target audiences engage in reconstructing and reinforcing the boundaries of their profession in relation to social media influencing.