In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Journalism

  • Introduction
  • Textbooks
  • Reference Works
  • Anthologies
  • Tracking Journalism Trends
  • Reviews
  • Journals
  • History
  • Democracy
  • Ideology
  • Journalists as Professionals
  • News and Objectivity
  • Journalists and Sources
  • Newsroom Ethnographies
  • Comparative News Studies
  • Journalistic Formats
  • Technology
  • Stories
  • Collective Memory and the News
  • Journalistic Discourse
  • News Images

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Communication Journalism
Matt Carlson
  • LAST REVIEWED: 23 February 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 February 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0067


The study of journalism is complicated by questions of just what journalism is. Journalism can be viewed as a profession employing thousands of workers, a practice with a set of rules and expectations, and a product that we also call news. Scholars have been exploring these phenomena through a variety of methods and theoretical approaches over the past century. The interest in journalism as a particular form of media work stems from the close association between news and democratic governance. Self-governing societies too large to communicate face-to-face require a mechanism for citizens to gather information about public life. This task has been largely divorced from the state, creating an independent voice outside the government to inform citizens about what that government is—or is not—doing. This conception of news underlies research on a variety of topics ranging from legal policies to sourcing routines. But journalism research extends beyond the political to the cultural. Journalism creates a commonly consumed text that continuously tells us about how the world works, who is important, and what is right or wrong. This focus has given rise to an interest in narratives, myths and collective memory. As a whole, these issues all remain central as journalists and journalism researchers seek to make sense of how changes in technologies are altering this thing we call journalism.


Scores of journalism textbooks instruct students in developing their skills as they seek to become practitioners. Other textbooks focus on mass communication or media studies as a more general area. Only a few textbooks adopt a research perspective in relation to the news. In this section, these books adopt different tones. Meyer 1991 aims to help journalists understand better how to incorporate social scientific methods into their work. Shoemaker and Reese 1996 provides an overview of how to think about forces shaping news content. Finally, Allan 1999 and Harcup 2009 reviews cultural and critical research on journalism in an accessible tone.

  • Allan, Stuart. 1999. News culture. Philadelphia: Open Univ. Press.

    This book addresses news from a cultural/critical perspective, relying heavily on major works in the field. It also includes a glossary. While mostly focusing on British scholars, it also includes American work and some European thinkers. Major sections include media history, ideological (political economic) perspectives, cultural production, audiences, gender and race.

  • Harcup, Tony. 2009. Journalism: Principles and practices. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    This textbook mixes journalism skills with academic research on journalism in a presentable and readable manner. Its unique layout moves the glossary into the text as its own column alongside the narrative of the text. Written from a British perspective, but useful internationally.

  • Meyer, Philip. 1991. The new precision journalism. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press.

    In this updated version, Meyer helps guide journalists in their use of social scientific data. The book contains useful chapters on statistics, survey research, databases, and experiments written in an accessible and lively manner.

  • Shoemaker, Pamela J., and Stephen D. Reese. 1996. Mediating the message: Theories of influences on mass media content. White Plains, NY: Longman.

    This comprehensive account of the forces shaping news production carefully examines a wide range of constraints on news. The book is an easy-to-understand primer and an important guide to doing research on how the news gets made.

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