FROM FOURTH ESTATE TO “FAKE NEWS”: ENGENDERED SOCIAL NORMS AND SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE 21ST CENTURY NEWSROOM

Restricted (Penn State Only)
Author:
Davis, Stefanie Elizabeth
Graduate Program:
Mass Communications
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
February 26, 2019
Committee Members:
  • Colleen Connolly-Ahern, Dissertation Advisor
  • Bu Zhong, Committee Chair
  • Francis Erin Dardis, Committee Member
  • Lorraine Dowler, Committee Member
  • Lorraine Dowler, Outside Member
Keywords:
  • social media
  • broadcast journalism
  • gender
  • qualitative research
  • news industry
Abstract:
It is a challenging time for broadcast journalists in the U.S. Television news viewership is at an all-time low and more people are getting their news from non-traditional sources, especially social media. Research indicates trust in the news media is rapidly declining while the popularity of the phrase “fake news” is increasing. The present investigation explores the mechanisms through which journalists are trying to meet these challenges. Qualitative interviews with 20 broadcast journalists in top 10 markets were conducted. A subsequent discourse analysis on the journalists’ Twitter accounts was also conducted. Findings suggest that broadcasters are increasingly using social media platforms to employ self-branding strategies to connect with audiences. However, unique obstacles, including gendered social norms and the “fake news” phenomenon, are impacting journalists’ relationships with audiences. Findings of the discourse analysis show the ways in which these gendered injustices are reified on social media. Previous research shows no gendered differences in the social media strategies of male and female journalists and so this study offers unique theoretical contributions to the current literature. Additionally, media professionals can use the practical implications of this study to better inform their newsroom practices.