Caught Between Innovation and Tradition: Young Journalists as Normative Change Agents in the Journalistic Field

Marcel Broersma*, Jane B. Singer

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    The necessity of innovation within the newsroom, and the rise of entrepreneurial initiatives outside it, have become increasingly apparent. A common thread in this discourse is the desire for young journalists to be “change agents” who foster innovation and thus stretch existing boundaries in the profession. Employers hope new hires, seen as attuned to their generation’s news use and as offering fresh knowledge and insights, will be able to drive new journalism initiatives that can attract a younger audience and so improve the enterprise’s odds for economic sustainability. Using a longitudinal three-wave survey among students enrolled in two leading journalism programs in Britain and the Netherlands, we explore whether students’ perceptions of innovation and entrepreneurialism are in line with this industry discourse. Do students perceive themselves as change agents who will be challenging and potentially shifting the boundaries of journalism? Or do they adhere to traditional ideas about norms and behaviors that have been ingrained in the doxa and habitus of the journalistic field over previous decades? We find that although journalism students favor the idea of “innovation” and see the value of engaging audiences, they define change predominantly in terms of technology rather than more substantive cultural transformation.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournalism Practice
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29-Sep-2020


    • Boundary work
    • journalism education
    • innovation
    • field theory
    • entrepreneurial journalism
    • digital technology
    • Bourdieu

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