Maarit Jaakkola

Maarit Jaakkola

  • University of Tampere
  • Department of Journalism and Mass Communication
Participant in 2007

Phd Projects


Changes in the Professional Culture of the 21st-Century Cultural Journalism

It has been claimed that literary criticism, as well as criticism dealing with other forms of arts, is in crisis these days. Newspapers are decreasing the number and length of published critiques in favour of glossy interviews, impressive reportages and artists’ portraits in a human-interest style. Criticism is massively produced but, at the same time, its judgmental basis has receded – as a result, it is also massively ignored. In order to understand what is going on, we have to turn to the professionals operating in the field. To a large extent the crisis discourse comes down to the tendency that the relation between the universalism of the traditional newspaper (the tradition of journalism) and specialist expertise (the tradition of criticism) is being re-defined. As the strict disciplinary bounds are crumbling and the boundaries between high and popular culture are eroding, the development towards ‘democratisation’ in culture holds no place for specialists. My PhD project attempts to study the interplay between the so-called journalistic and criticistic tradition in terms of newspaper’s cultural journalism. I will look at the changes in professional notions of journalists and critics writing for the newspaper’s cultural departments. The two-sided professional culture is approached by questioning what kind of subject positions the contemporary writers in newspapers occupy in their texts, and what kind of positions are rooted and maintained in the organisational culture. Reconstructing a genealogy of these subject positions within a single organisational system makes the historicity of both paradigms visible. The object of my empirical phenomenographical research is the cultural department of Helsingin Sanomat, the largest and the most influential newspaper in Finland. In my PhD research I intend to discuss what the concept of journalism means in the context of 21st century cultural journalism and whether the conception of the so-called journalistic turn or journalistification is appropriate. In this context journalism tends to be termed as an ideological construction by both critics and artists. As my approach attempts to unify both the journalistic and the criticistic sides of cultural journalism, I call it an integrative approach. So far, cultural journalism has mainly been a task for literary or art historians, due to which only some of the strategies have been examined at a time. Moreover, the outcome has been limited. The integrative approach provides us with a more diversified sensitivity for the two paradigms that are both elements of the reception history or, in Gadamer’s terminology, effective history of the arts and literature.

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