Epistemic modes in news production: How journalists manage ways of knowing in hybrid media events involving terrorist violence

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Abstract

In this article, we investigate the challenge of hybrid media events of terrorist violence for journalism and analyse how news organizations manage epistemic modes in such events. Epistemic modes refer to different ways of knowing, which are managed by newsrooms through journalistic and editorial practices. We draw from an empirical study of terrorism-related news production in the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle). Our data consist of thematic interviews (N = 33) with Yle journalists, producers, and content managers and newsroom observations (14 days) conducted at Yle. The study investigates the data through a grounded theory approach with the aim of creating a theoretical understanding of knowledge production in hybrid media events. The results are drawn from a qualitative content analysis and close reading of the interview data, with the other data sets informing the core analysis. The article identifies seven epistemic modes of relevance to news production in hybrid media events: not-knowing, description, rumoring, witnessing, emotion, analysing and perpetrating. The modes are analysed in relation to three dimensions of crisis reporting: immediate sense-making, ritualizing and transformation back to normalcy. The article finds that although particular epistemic modes are typical to certain dimensions of reporting hybrid, disruptive media events, both the modes and the dimensions also are also merged and intermixed. This condition together with growing amounts of problematic epistemic modes of rumoring, emotion and perpetrating challenge journalists’ epistemic authority in reporting hybrid media events involving terrorist violence.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournalism
Volume23
Issue number9
Early online date16 May 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • epistemic mode
  • hybrid media event
  • journalistic authority
  • journalistic practice
  • newsroom
  • Terrorism news production

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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