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Digital Journalism

Deadline: 30 November 2019

Special Issue:

The business of digital journalism

Despite a slow start, research on the business of digital journalism has been growing in the past decade (Nielsen, 2018). This increased interest comes at a time of decline and consolidation in commercial journalism organizations in some media systems (Hallin and Mancini, 2012), growth in digital born journalism startups, acute competition for online advertising and audiences, and a shifting climate towards government and emergent funding models (Cagé, 2016; Chan-Olmsted, 2018; Nielsen, 2018; Picard, 2014).

Scholarship has primarily focused on a response to digitalization, the multiple and ongoing crises in the business and technologies of legacy journalism organizations, and how startups and newer players might or might not address market failure, decline and innovation (Benson, 2017; Carlson and Usher, 2016; Deuze, 2017; Graves and Konieczna, 2015; Küng, 2018; Naldi and Picard, 2012; Powers and Zambrano, 2016). This literature tends to orient itself within a digitalization periodization (Prenger and Deuze, 2017), with one of the most well-researched topics - the newspaper crisis - focused on studies within single countries (Siles and Boczkowski, 2012).

Despite this wide-ranging literature, according to Siles and Boczkowski (2012:18) there are few specific definitions of ‘crisis’ aside from a general “destabilization of the industry.” This conceptual gap highlights the need for original empirical and multi-method research, interdisciplinary engagement and theory building with the ways that the business of journalism is not only responding to digitalization but is being reconstituted by more than two decades of digital journalism. This context includes the disruptive force of online advertising, a growth in global startups and non-human journalism actors, competition from big technology platforms, and multiple participatory and highly sought-after publics.

While scholars have long-established approaches to the relationship between the production of journalism - norms, practices, roles and content - and the business/consumption of journalism, this special issue of Digital Journalism is an opportunity to explore how these relationships are changing at the front line of journalism’s economic survival - entrepreneurial digital journalism. It invites papers on how entrepreneurship and institutional entrepreneurial approaches to journalism are destabilizing, extending and/or re-engineering some of journalism’s long-held ideals and structures, affecting the social, cultural, organizational, audience and economics of the business of digital journalism globally.

This special issue seeks to showcase a wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches, across a diversity of national contexts and media markets. Critical, political economy, cross-national and comparative analyses are particularly welcome. We welcome both empirical and theoretical manuscripts; quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods approaches; case study approaches; and historical and contemporary inquiries are welcome. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Historical development of the business of digital journalism.
  • Business issues in digital journalism related to ownership, hybrid governance models, public service broadcasters, regulatory policy and government funding.
  • Social, cultural, economic innovation.
  • Business models of digital journalism.
  • Relationships with governmental, business, platform and not for profit actors in the business of digital journalism.
  • The implications of existing and emergent professional identities on journalism and business-oriented journalistic roles.
  • Critical studies and political economy approaches to entrepreneurship and the business of digital journalism.

Digital Journalism

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Editorial Information

Editor-in-chief: Oscar Westlund

Guest editors: Mary Lynn Young and Alfred Hermida, (University of British Columbia)

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Submission Guidelines

Proposals should include the following: an abstract of 500-750 words (not including references) as well as background information on the author(s), including an abbreviated bio that describes previous and current research that relates to the special issue theme. Please submit your proposal as one file (PDF) with your names clearly stated in the file name and the first page. Send your proposal to Mary Lynn Young  and please cc Alfred Hermida by the date stated in timeline below. Authors of accepted proposals are expected to develop and submit their original article, for full blind review, in accordance with the journal’s peer-review procedure, by the deadline stated. Article submissions should target 7,000 words in length. Guidelines for manuscripts can be found here.


Abstract submission deadline: 30 November 2019

Notification on submitted abstracts: 5 January 2020

Article submission deadline: 30 May 2020



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