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This work uses grounded theory methodology to develop a theory of the Internet’s influences upon journalism and its implications for journalism education. It sets out to address research questions asking what journalists’ and educators’ electronic discussions reveal about the influences of the Internet upon journalism and what the implications of this might be for journalism education. Sub-questions ask how the Internet’s influences upon journalism might be categorised and, further, ask what new tasks and practices journalists have adopted in their work as a result of the use of the Internet.
The literature review reveals scholarship in the field has developed rapidly during the course of the study, however while much of the research has targeted specific phenomena in the journalism / Internet / education interface, there has been a dearth of literature attempting to synthesise the three in a holistic theorybuilding exercise such as this. Certainly, there have been no attempts to use a grounded theory approach to the analysis of electronic discussion list data in building such theory.
The data upon which the analysis is based are the discussions about journalism practice and journalism education on four electronic discussion lists during a nine week period in 1997. The 1217 messages posted to the lists were sorted according to their relevance to the research questions and the 629 messages selected were coded and sorted using the NUD.IST qualitative research software and analysed in accordance with grounded theory procedures recommended by Strauss (1987) and Strauss and Corbin (1990).
The study illustrates that the Internet has had a major influence upon journalism which has important implications for journalism education. The thesis presents a descriptive categorisation of the Internet’s influences upon journalism.
The Internet’s actual influences upon journalism are identifiable and numerous, and include 169 new journalistic tasks and practices. The influences are so profound in some respects that they force a re-evaluation of journalism and its purpose.
The influences of the Internet upon the context in which journalism is practised and upon the practice of journalism are momentous. They represent the emergence of an endeavour which, while retaining many of the characteristics of journalism as it has been known, is too fragmented, multi-dimensional and multipurposed to continue to be classified as such, a notion which has profound implications for journalism education and necessitate a review of its aims and practices. The term “Multi-Journalism” has been coined to describe this new manifestation of journalism as an occupation.
Numerous opportunities for further research have been identified, covering all three domains addressed in the thesis: the context in which journalism is practised, the practice itself, and the implications of Internet influences for journalism education.