The study of boundary work in journalism generally has involved examining legacy news organizations and their efforts to expel deviant actors and otherwise patrol the boundaries around appropriate professional practice. This thesis extends this body of research by analyzing the interrelationships among newer, digitally centric actors: namely, Gawker and BuzzFeed. Using textual analysis, this research examines two case studies: a feud between BuzzFeed and Gawker over journalistic norms, and Gawker’s outing of a Condé Nast executive. By blending the existing frameworks of boundary work with concepts such as authority, as well as findings from research on blogging and news aggregation, this study offers a comprehensive examination of these emerging journalistic actors. In the first case, Gawker engaged BuzzFeed over what it believed to be failures of journalistic norms in deleting articles at the behest of advertisers. In the second, Gawker wrestled with the consequences of its own failure to exercise acceptable editorial judgment in the outing of a gay magazine executive. The resulting findings suggest that, as these cases unfolded, BuzzFeed and Gawker both readily adopted some of the traditional values of journalism in an effort to be accepted by the professional community. However, in other ways, these actors continued to distance themselves from legacy news media and refused to conform to certain journalistic norms, instead remaining more closely aligned with the values they brought from their own histories as digital upstarts. These findings suggest a need for further research into the boundary behaviors of born-digital actors and a deeper examination of the discourse between new and old media entities.
University of Minnesota M.A. thesis. May 2016. Major: Journalism. Advisor: Seth Lewis. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 83 pages.
Gawker, BuzzFeed, and Journalism: Case Studies in Boundaries, News Aggregation, and Journalistic Authority.
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