My latest article, “Metajournalistic Discourse and the Meanings of Journalism: Definitional Control, Boundary Work, and Legitimation” is now available ahead of print on the Communication Theory site. I’ve been working with an idea of metajournalistic discourse–public talk about journalism–for some years now, applying it to deviance, the decline of newspapers, the manifestos of news startups, media criticism, and gatekeeping. This article steps back from specific examples to theorize what this discourse does. I argue that news discourse (i.e. what journalists produce) is always accompanied by discourse making sense of news. We can really only understand journalism as a cultural practice and a knowledge-producing activity by examining this larger context of metadiscourse the same way we study material structures, technologies, media policies, role conceptions, production and consumption practices, etc. In fleshing out these claims and identifying consequences, I associate metajournalistic discourse with definition-making, boundary work, and authority.
Articles are always journeys, and this one began as a presentation at the Qualitative Political Communication Research pre-conference at the 2014 ICA meeting in Seattle. I appreciate the opportunity this excellent pre-conference offered to work out the ideas that eventually became the Communication Theory article.