Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

Journalism Studies

For a Special Issue on

Bodies in Journalism

Manuscript deadline
31 July 2024

Cover image - Journalism Studies

Special Issue Editor(s)

Belinda Middleweek, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
[email protected]

Saba Bebawi, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
[email protected]

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Bodies in Journalism

The body has been a focal point of cultural critique in humanities and social sciences research since the corporeal or bodily turn of the 1980s and 1990s, when it began to be perceived as discursively shaped by language, culture, and ideology, rather than a fixed biological entity. In journalism, bodies play a crucial role in the day-to-day performance of news work: interacting with sources, collecting sensitive information, and negotiating access are integral aspects of the emotional labour of the profession. Despite its essential role in journalism, the body – encompassing its senses, emotions, moods, and impulses – has been relatively overlooked as an object of research. When the body does receive attention, it is often portrayed as an obstacle that hinders ‘good journalism’, particularly in discourses concerning professional objectivity. The need to move beyond the mind/body dualism that has structured western thought with its negative valuation of the body (though a necessary precondition for the mind) is widely acknowledged, along with the need to understand its material and discursive positionings.

This special issue is particularly interested in the different meanings, practices, identities, and dimensions of bodies in journalism. It aims to foster new perspectives on the ways in which practitioners experience, deploy and utilise this corporeal mode of communication. In turn, contributions will consider how such insights shape the profession’s conception, practices and values. An intervention of this kind is all the more urgent given the technological, institutional and cultural factors shaping bodies in journalism.

In the context of the technological, AI, algorithms and automation are increasingly being integrated into newsrooms. Alongside contemporary analyses of the innovative and disruptive potential of these technologies, are studies of the consequences of human-machine interactions in news production contexts and the capacity of technological actors to function not merely as mediators of knowledge but as active communicators. Understanding how these new (mostly disembodied) actors reconfigure professional roles and routines, extend the human body with its sensory capacities, and the consequences for our understanding of who is a journalist and what constitutes journalism are pressing areas for research.

With regard to the institutional, the development of sensory, artistic, and affective forms of journalism point to ways in which the body can be positioned as the medium of storytelling and/or deployed to (re)create the richness and complexity of journalistic practices. Recent work on ‘journalistic theatre’ and embodied storytelling through narrative, dance, and movement, has been shown to increase audience engagement, and challenge press censorship, while the use of social media as a form of ‘flesh witnessing’ to record the lives of people caught in the crosshairs of conflict, opens up to reporters embodied experiences that would be otherwise inaccessible. Others have explored journalism as artistic practice that involves aesthetic, sensory, affective, and experiential elements as well as arts-based methods for researching journalism that include sketching, painting, visualising, and handwriting letters. Understanding storytelling approaches that privilege the body as well as embodied approaches to journalism research is crucial given the recognised need for truth-telling that is authentic, credible and captures a community’s lived experience.

Finally, scholars of corporeal feminism argue that bodies are discursively constructed and culturally determined: they function as both material objects and cultural signs that are mutually constitutive. Where it concerns practices of production and reception in contemporary journalism, this argument raises a number of questions: how do the embodied markers of cultural identity inform and shape networked, digital journalism practice? How are gendered, raced, classed, sexualised, and differently abled bodies perceived and represented in journalistic content and what are the economy of meanings ascribed to them? These questions suggest the need to understand the role of culturally produced bodies in evolving journalistic contexts brought about by the digital era.

We welcome submissions encompassing both conceptual and empirical approaches, spanning quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods research. We encourage contributions ranging from single-country studies to cross-national comparisons that contribute to advancing our understanding of the relationship between bodies and journalism amid technological, institutional, and cultural transformations.

We encourage submissions including, but not limited to, the following areas:

  • Spaces, genres, and forms of embodied storytelling
  • Embodied practices of journalists and affective knowledge
  • New bodily configurations in human-machine news contexts
  • New journalistic methodologies involving the body
  • Innovative approaches to the body as a medium of news storytelling
  • Audience’s embodied responses to journalistic texts
  • Critiques of the representation of bodies in and by news media

Submission Instructions

We invite interested contributors to submit a full draft manuscript of 8,000 words (including all text, notes, references, tables, charts, etc.) with author name(s), institutional affiliation, and contact details to the Journalism Studies journal. Please select 'special issue title' when submitting your paper to ScholarOne. The submission should clearly address the relevance of the proposed article to the theme of the special issue. Please follow the instructions on the journal homepage for formatting your paper. The editors will conduct a desk review of submissions and those accepted will proceed to anonymous peer review. Note that acceptance of the paper for anonymous peer review is not a guarantee of final publication in the themed issue. The due date for final revisions on accepted papers is 14 October 2024, with the special issue expected to be published in early 2025.

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