Early morning in Stockholm with the City Hall in the background. Photo: Instamatic © Mostphotos
Early morning in Stockholm with the City Hall in the background. Photo: Instamatic © Mostphotos

In an era when culture itself has become central to political debates, when boundaries between hard and soft news, facts and opinion are dissolving, cultural journalism in mainstream media contributes to democratic discourses on vital issues of our time. European and Nordic research has shown the steady expansion of cultural journalism, from new forms of aesthetic expression to news, to harbouring debates and reflection on such issues as freedom of expression, ethnicity and national identity. Cultural journalism is furthermore indicative of questions of journalistic autonomy and specialisation within media organisations, and of the relationship between the cultural and political public spheres.

This symposium brings together international researchers to compare and contrast research on cultural journalism from diverse geopolitical contexts, focusing specifically on transnational and democratic aspects. The symposium will showcase and discuss prominent research in the field, and identify future research agendas on cultural journalism. To this end, it aims to create opportunities for collaboration across geographical, disciplinary and subject-specific contexts. The symposium also constitutes an opportunity to interact with practitioners of cultural journalism, and to discuss the particularities of cultural journalism as well as the challenges that concern the entire journalistic field, such as the economic and democratic crisis of journalism, professionalization, populism, and the importance of digital platforms and social media.

Cultural journalism’s expansion of content coincides with the increased blurring of the boundaries in relation to lifestyle and celebrity on the one hand, and news journalism and political debate, on the other. Cultural journalism’s engagement in themes such as migration, #Metoo, terrorism and climate change, have inspired some scholars to go beyond the boundaries of the field, and connect it to political communication. Research has also pointed to the fact that the topics and discourses of cultural journalism are becoming more difficult to distinguish from lifestyle journalism, especially since the adoption of a more “service-oriented” journalism, which sets itself up as a guide to personal cultural consumption. At the same time, scholars report a greater international, or even transnational orientation of cultural journalism. This may portend a greater homogenization of content, as well as more cosmopolitan and transnational perspectives in content. Although several large comparative studies have linked the field of cultural journalism to globalization in this sense, studies of cultural journalism have in themselves still mainly been undertaken in national contexts.

The symposium will provide a forum for presenting in its final stages the project “The Worlds of Cultural Journalism: Politics and Culture under Globalization and Digitalization”, which explores content, production and consumption of Swedish cultural journalism over the last four decades. The symposium will provide the opportunity for the cultural journalism research field to summon and direct its attention to transformations related to democracy, politics and globalization, including issues such as citizen participation, reach, digitalization, professionalization and the blurring of genres in view of new media ecologies.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to, the following areas:

  • Geographical, spatial and scalar dimensions of cultural journalism
  • Cultural journalism, politics and democracy
  • Cultural journalism and cultural conflicts
  • Multiculturalism and hybridity in cultural journalism
  • Cultural journalism and professionalization
  • Cultural journalism and its relation to the cultural industries
  • The sources and actors of cultural journalism
  • Cultural journalism beyond legacy media
  • Local, national or global audiences of cultural journalism
  • Cultural journalism and digital content circulation in social media
  • Genre and style developments in cultural journalism
  • Representations of “culture” in other subfields of journalism (e.g. news, economy, editorials, sports journalism etc.)
  • Critics and public intellectuals in the digital media 
  • Entertainment, celebrity and cultural influencers

We plan to draw on the symposium contributions to put together a comparative international anthology that contributes to the current literature on the subject.

The program includes:

Confirmed keynotes: Professor Nete Nørgaard Kristensen (University of Copenhagen) and Professor David Hesmondhalgh (University of Leeds)

Presentation of results from “The Worlds of Cultural Journalism” project by Kristina Riegert, Anna Roosvall and Andreas Widholm.

A concluding keynote panel with researchers and cultural journalists discussing the future of cultural journalism.

Participation is free of charge and includes two lunches and one dinner.

Please e-mail your abstract to: cjsymposium@jmk.su.se no later than 5 November. Notification of acceptance will go out 15 November. If you have any questions about the symposium, don’t hesitate to ask kristina.riegert@ims.su.se.

We hope to see you in Stockholm!

Kristina Riegert, Professor of Media and Communication Studies

Anna Roosvall, Professor of Media and Communication Studies

Andreas Widholm, Associate Professor of Journalism

Department of Media Studies, Stockholm University

 Please visit The Worlds of Cultural Journalism project website