Journalism plays a central democratic role in news provision, public opinion formation as well as a scrutinizer of power structures and societal problems. At present, there is a great deal of discussion concerning the crisis of journalism. There can be no doubt that, during the first decades of the 21st century, journalism has undergone radical changes in relation to media technology developments, competing forms of information provision, and tougher economic conditions. The consequences of this are the topic of considerable debate. However, where some see journalism as being in free fall and as having fundamental values that can no longer be maintained, others welcome the questioning of hegemonic journalism.
Research at the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG) at the University of Gothenburg puts great weight on understanding journalism from a broad historical and social scientific perspective. ’Modern professional journalism’ – a relatively autonomous institution controlling society’s dominating media, claiming to have exclusive qualities and methods as well as legitimacy in representing the public – was developed under specific technological, social, cultural, economic and political conditions. Journalism has never been a totally coherent, autonomous institution. However, its internal norms, values systems and practices have perhaps become increasingly variable, at the same time as its boundaries with other enterprises have shifted. Different actors produce the news. The communication activities of public authorities, businesses and political organizations have been professionalized. The Internet, social and mobile media are widening the possible ways in which the public can search for, share and publish information.
At JMG, extensive research on journalism has been conducted since the Department was established. At present, the research engages a large group of scholars who use complementary theoretical and methodological approaches.
The following are central research topics:
- How historical changes in social institutions, media systems, the media industry and legislation have affected the conditions for and forms of journalism and news provision
- The conditions, norms, values and institutionalized practices of professional journalism and their development over time
- Qualities, ethical ideals and knowledge claims in different types of journalism
- The social structure of journalism, and journalism as a social field
- Journalism and gender
- Journalism and freedom of expression
- Journalism, discursive practices, representations, and ideology
- Journalism, the internet, mobile media and technological innovations
- Journalism and social media
- Journalism, its legitimacy and relations to other enterprises (public relations, commercial advertising, non-professional actors)