Dissertation

My dissertation project, titled In with the New – Out with the Old? A structural and cultural analysis of the 21st century American political news media field, explores the political news media field of the United States in an era of shifting boundaries. This research asks what, if anything, has changed in news and opinion content? How do different media formats and outlets define their legitimacy and authority? Are new media content sites, television and newspapers telling the same stories? Further, are they using similar codes, symbols and narratives? This project analyzes the articles, posts and transcripts (N=2413) from ten prevalent media outlets, three print (The New York Times, the Washington Post, and USA Today), three televised (Face the Nation, The O’Reilly Factor, and Countdown with Keith Olberman), and four digital (Dailykos.com, instapundit.com, TalkingPointsMemo.com, and MichelleMalkin.com) during the 2004 and 2008 election cycles with a topical focus of the Iraq War. I argue that new media outlets, during the transition toward 2004 and between the 2004 and 2008 election cycles, expanded and re-ordered the cultural and structural environment that envelops media, politics, and the public sphere. During these transitional time periods, a confluence of specific political, journalistic, and technological events created cultural and structural volatility within the media environment. This resulted in conflict and boundary negotiations in the form of reification, adjustment, and creation. I find specific organizational structures and discursive codes that are reinforced and ossified. Simultaneously, however, I find transformations that represent an altered hierarchy of cultural symbols. In the end, I find three distinct media channels represented by three ideal typical discursive practices: Traditional Journalism, Partisan Journalism, and Citizen Journalism.

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