Jenni Mäenpää

Jenni Mäenpää

  • University of Tampere
  • School of Communication, Media and Theater
Participant in 2012

Phd Projects


Discourses of Objectivity – Re-Thinking Photojournalistic Work in the Digital Era

My PhD project deals with photojournalistic work and its changes and continuities following digitisation in the late 1980s. Since then, the field has undergone a complete technological change, from dark rooms to computerised work. In the first decade of the new millennium, the advent of Internet publishing, online news videos, amateur photography and social media has confused the traditional situation even further. These changes are part of a bigger picture that is interconnected with changes in the operational environment and key values of journalism; the relevant aspects here would include objectivity, public relations, power relations, accuracy and ethics (e.g. Deuze 2005). As a consequence of the changes, I believe that the key values of journalism have to be reconsidered by the professionals. Ideological changes are slow, however, and they remain intertwined with older values. My particular interest is in the value of objectivity in relation to photojournalism. My main questions focus on how the value of objectivity is understood and negotiated by the photojournalists of today. In order to discuss the point of view of the professionals, I have conducted interviews and a web-based survey among photojournalists in Finland. The interviews (20 people) concentrated mainly on the production of online news videos in newspapers, whereas the aim of the survey (circa 200 respondents) was to map the limits of digital photo editing in newspapers and magazines. My plan is to write the thesis in an article-based format. The dissertation will consist of 4-5 peer -journal articles in both Finnish and English. In addition to the articles, I shall write a connective introduction with methods and background and conclusions for the thesis. So far, two of the articles have been published, and I am now working on two other drafts or ideas. Currently, the articles I am planning to include in the thesis are titled as follows: 1. Mäenpää, Jenni & Seppänen, Janne (2010) Imaginary Darkroom. Digital photo editing as a strategic ritual. Journalism Practice 4 (4), 454−475. 2. Mäenpää, Jenni & Seppänen, Janne (2007) [Photojournalism as knowledge production, published in Finnish] Tiedotustutkimus 2007/3, 4−18. 3. Mäenpää, Jenni. The guardians of objectivity. The changing work practices and professionalism of photojournalists in the digital age. (Idea paper/ Draft) 4. Mäenpää, Jenni. [The paradox of a journalistic image. Objectivity of photojournalism in the digital age. In Finnish] (Idea paper/ Draft)

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