ARTICLE: Journalism researchers should look beyond “hybridity”

Untitled by Bach Nguyen, licence CC0 1.0

The concept of “hybridity” and “hybrid journalism” has been useful in describing things that do not fall into dichotomous categories. However, the concept is insufficient in describing the complexity inherent in journalism, a team of researchers argues. They review the history of the concept and propose a way for journalism scholars to move towards a more complete understanding of their object of study.

Hybridity has often been used as a catch-all term to describe things that are complex or inconsistent with earlier classifications (e.g. professional vs. non-professional journalism), the authors write. The “hybrid turn” in journalism research implies historical stability in journalism, the departure from which “hybridity” in academic parlance denotes. This image of a grand, hybrid revolution is a misconception, the authors suggest: hybrid features have existed in journalism for centuries.

The concept of hybridity does not provide a sufficient break from dichotomies, either, the authors suggest. It merely adds the third option of “both” on top of dichotomous conceptualizations of journalism, without being able to fully describe the object in all its complexities. Instead, journalism research should move towards experientalism, the team proposes. “Quite simply, we are advocating for understanding journalism (and life!) as made up of inconsistencies”, they conclude.

The essay was authored by:

  • Tamara Witschge, of University of Groningen
  • CW Anderson, of University of Leeds
  • David Domingo, of Universit√© Libre de Bruxelles
  • Alfred Hermida, of the University of British Columbia

The essay “Unraveling hybridity, normativity, and complexity in journalism studies” was published by the journal Journalism. It is available online on the publisher’s website (open access).

Picture: Untitled by Bach Nguyen, licence CC0 1.0.

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