Journalism, History and the Politics of Popular Culture
Hartley, John (2010) Journalism, History and the Politics of Popular Culture. In Allan, Stuart (Ed.) The Routledge Companion to News and Journalism Studies. Routledge, London, pp. 13-24.
I argue that a divergence between popular culture as “object” and “subject” of journalism emerged during the nineteenth century in Britain. It accounts not only for different practices of journalism, but also for differences in the study of journalism, as manifested in journalism studies and cultural studies respectively. The chapter offers an historical account to show that popular culture was the source of the first mass circulation journalism, via the pauper press, but that it was later incorporated into the mechanisms of modern government for a very different purpose, the theorist of which was Walter Bagehot. Journalism’s polarity was reversed – it turned from “subjective” to “objective.” The paper concludes with a discussion of YouTube and the resurgence of self-made representation, using the resources of popular culture, in current election campaigns. Are we witnessing a further reversal of polarity, where popular culture and self-representation once again becomes the “subject” of journalism?
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