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Free e-seminar: ‘It’s like a family!’ The unity and community of journalists

February 29, 2016

‘It’s like a family!’ The unity and community of journalists: On connections between newsrooms and how journalists share a community of practice

Working Paper to the EASA Media Anthropology Network’s 55th e-Seminar
1-15 March 2016

by Line Hassall Thomsen, Aarhus University, Denmark.

The EASA Media Anthropology Network is well known for its e-seminars which run on our mailing list for a period of two weeks. These moderated sessions have been held since 2004 and unfold around a working paper presented by a Network participant or guest. They are currently convened by Veronica Barassi. E-seminars are free and open to anyone with a genuine interest in the anthropology of media. To participate please subscribe to our mailing list via this page. If you wish to present a paper or suggest a presenter please contact Veronica Barassi or John Postill.


To journalists at traditional broadcast media these are times of insecurity and opportunity, rapid change and ever-growing competition. In the face of growing pressure, the unity and community of journalists employed at traditional broadcast media is increasingly strengthened. This paper explores the strong practice-community bonds existing between journalists employed at competing traditional broadcast media. Drawing on a two-year period of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the newsrooms of BBC News, ITV News, TV Avisen and TV2 Nyhederne, the paper presents an anthropological approach to studying journalists at work. During fieldwork, the study found journalists at competing newscasters to be working in very similar ways, while expressing a strong relational bond. In order to explore this bond, it is examined what is core and what is periphery to the journalists within the newsroom. One of the key findings is that each newsroom is very much connected to competing newsrooms by way of everyday practice-communities, both real and imagined.

Keywords: journalism, practice communities, competition, professionalism, shared ideals, newsroom studies, ethnography.

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