What can Nonprofit Journalists Actually do for Democracy?

Authored by: Magda Konieczna , Elia Powers

The Routledge Handbook of Developments in Digital Journalism Studies

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138283053
eBook ISBN: 9781315270449
Adobe ISBN:


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Journalism is considered the ‘fourth estate’, tasked with helping to uphold democracy. Despite this weighty responsibility, there is little consensus about how its practitioners are expected to perform this task. As Gans 1998 argued, the journalistic theory of democracy offers little clarity on whether and how journalists contribute to democracy. Perhaps as a result, many U.S. journalists have, at least until recently, felt uncomfortable discussing the impact of their work and claimed to be agnostic about outcomes (Ettema and Glasser, 1998), often arguing that their responsibility ends at publishing or broadcasting a story. As news organizations struggle to define and promote their own relevance, some argue that journalists should make explicit their efforts to contribute to democracy and the results of those efforts (Anderson et al., 2014; Keller and Abelson, 2015).

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