Advancing a Radical Audience Turn in Journalism: Fundamental Dilemmas for Journalism Studies

Joelle Swart*, Tim Groot Kormelink, Irene Costera Meijer, Marcel Broersma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)
255 Downloads (Pure)


Despite its increasing attention for audiences, journalism studies remains an inherently production-focused discipline. Consequently, studying the perspective of audiences tends to automatically start from questions relevant for and benefitting the news industry. In this introduction, we argue for a more radical audience turn that pushes journalism studies forward beyond normative and industry concerns, and starts from the perspective of audiences themselves. We formulate four constructive starting points for advancing the audience turn in journalism: 1) further decentering journalism by also focusing on non-news and employing non-media centric approaches; 2) broadening who counts as audience by including audiences considered commercially unattractive; 3) shifting the focus from what counts as news use to what is experienced as informative; and 4) positing audiences as active agents. However, such a radical audience turn also creates fundamental dilemmas for journalism studies, raising questions about the field’s object of study, the spaces and contexts of news use considered, and the objectives of journalism studies as a field. With this special issue, we call for further reflections on how news and informational needs may be conceptualized from an audience perspective and how to theorize what this means for journalism’s role in society and everyday life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-22
Number of pages15
JournalDigital Journalism
Issue number1
Early online date16-Feb-2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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