Editor's Choice

I thought it might be fun to try something slightly different with the Virtual Special Issue (VSI) for September/October 2017. Previous VSIs have been themed and featured articles clustered around particular scholarly concerns such as Journalism and Social Media, Journalism and History and most recently, Journalism and Elections. But for this VSI, I’ve looked through the archives of the journals to identify articles which I have especially enjoyed reading and which I anticipated my ‘imagined audience’ might also relish.

My criteria for inclusion have been diverse but, as might be anticipated, include some papers which might be described as exemplifying that rather vague phrase ‘academic excellence’ – so it follows that some of these papers published in the journals have also been prize winners. In this category, the articles by Lilie Chouliaraki and Seth Lewis and Oscar Westlund, have each been awarded the ICA Journalism Division’s Outstanding Journal Article of the Year

Other papers seemed to me to be exceptionally valuable because they developed and unravelled a distinctive approach to the study of a particular topic which other scholars might adopt to enable and enhance their own scholarship and generate new findings to further understanding in our field of Journalism Studies. The paper by Philip M. Napoli, Sarah Stonebely, Kathleen McCullough and Bryce Renninger is an exemplar here. Similarly, the fascination of the paper by Meyen and Fiedler reflects their effort to construct a ‘collective biography’ from the careers of 121 journalists in the GDR and their role perceptions about the journalism profession.

Other papers impressed and excited by the sheer scale and ambition of the projects undertaken; the research study by Momin and Pfeffer with its analysis of 1.9bn Tweets should definitely be mentioned here. Yet others attracted my attention because of their concern with the seemingly arcane nature of their subject matter which – in the case of the paper by Wood and de Beer - involved a study of the first Doctorate in journalism submitted by Tobias Peucer to the University of Leipzig in 1690. The subject of the thesis (translated from the Latin) was news values and the authors make a convincing case for the relevance of the thesis to current understandings of the academic study of news values. The mention of news values allows me to segueway neatly to mention Harcup and O’Neill’s various studies of changing news values published in two articles in Journalism studies in 2001 and later in 2016. The 2001 article has consistently been downloaded more than any other article in the subsequent 16 years which, on my account reflects the centrality of its concerns to our field, its immense value for teaching as well as research and the clarity of structure and argument with which the authors make their case.

Since I mentioned high quality writing I must reference Rodney Benson’s outstanding paper listed below, but also the article by one of the most eloquent scholars in our field, Erik Neveu. His paper ‘On Not Going Too Fast with Slow Journalism’ offers a model of erudition from which we might all learn – and curiously this from someone who always insists he is a sociologist, not a scholar of journalism, and who always asks me to check his English! Modesty and excellence are often cohabitees.

Richardson’s paper offers an outstandingly powerful and intellectually rich account of Black citizen witnessing and introduced this reader to the burgeoning literature on the black public sphere, the paper by Bounegru, Venturini, Gray and Jacomy, unravels and reveals the potential of networks as storytelling devices, while Katie Day Good’s paper ‘Listening to Pictures’ reminds us of the importance of history to journalism studies and the fact that multimedia newspapers enjoy a longer history than we sometimes recall.

Le Masurier’s paper asks What is slow journalism? Her answer is eloquent and recalls British journalist James Cameron’s observation that ‘there is no such thing as good journalism, only good writing’. Le Masurier’s special issues on Slow Journalism (in Digital Journalism and Journalism Practice) contain some of the best writing which the journals have ever published. Sjøvaag’s account of the introduction of paywalls and their implications for content change offers a theoretically rich and evidence driven paper built on case studies of three Norwegian online newspapers, while Vos and Singer conduct a content analysis of papers targeting journalism professionals to curate a delightful and insightful account of journalists’ views of entrepreneurial journalism.

Hanitzsch et al’s excellent paper presents comparative findings from one of the early World of Journalism Studies research projects and highlights the value of comparative research (Folker Hanusch’s special issue on the 2015 WJS findings is published in Journalism Studies 2017). But the considerably lesser ‘claim to fame’ of this paper – although its greater quirkiness - is that it has more authors (18 are listed) than any other paper ever published in any of the three journals Digital Journalism, Journalism Practice and Journalism Studies. I remember advising Thomas that we would need to keep author ‘bioblurbs’ minimally brief or they risked breaching the pagination budget for the entire issue!

So that is my choice of some of the very best work published in the journals and the reasons informing my editorial choices – although sometimes these reasons are expressed with tongue planted firmly in cheek. It’s been fun and I’m tempted to craft another such listing which reveals not only my shameless commitment to hedonism, but the rich resource of excellent material which these three journals have in their archives and which are readily accessible via the Routledge, Taylor and Francis website

The articles listed below can be accessed for free via this page until the end of October 2017. I hope you will enjoy reading them and perhaps they will help you to construct your own list of favourites.

Bob Franklin.