Post-Industrial Cultural Criticism

As I have advertised in an earlier blog post, my research article on post-industrial cultural criticism (i.e., amateurs who review arts and culture online) was published in the prestigious journal Journalism Practice. It is part of a special issue on “Cultural Journalism and Cultural Critique in the Media”, which is edited by Nete Nørgaard Kristensen and Unni From, and that special issue has just been published in its entirety. There is a lot of interesting articles in it, and I do recommend it.

For those interested in my work, here is the abstract of my article “Post-Industrial Cultural Criticism. The everyday amateur expert and the online cultural public sphere“:

Integrating perspectives from research into cultural and post-industrial journalism, this article presents a pilot study of websites with reviews of arts and culture conducted by amateurs. Such websites constitute a popular space for cultural criticism, and one that challenges traditional hierarchies within journalism. The article maps which Danish websites conduct arts and culture reviews, asks what features these websites have that facilitate public discourse, and measures the actual discussion on the websites. While academic diagnoses of the state of the online public sphere have generally been discouraging, this article argues that this is partly due to a strong focus on politics rather than on culture and illustrates how the cultural public sphere of online reviews constitutes a heterogeneous space for a public discussion about arts and culture. Furthermore, it shows that some amateur reviewers have highly specialized knowledge of culture and, on that basis, argues that the emergence of this type of critic might represent a qualitative strengthening of cultural criticism.

Special issue of Journalism Practice on cultural journalism

In case you missed it, a research article of mine was recently published in Journalism Practice. The article is part of a special issue on “Cultural Journalism and the Media Reporting of Culture”, which is edited by my good colleagues Nete Nørgaard Kristensen and Unni From. It is, I think, an important special issue because the community of journalism scholars has tended to neglect research in journalism on arts and culture and instead focus on political journalism (not that political journalism is not important – it most certainly is). In an international context, this special issue is one of the first publications on the subject, and it will likely be a standard reference or go-to source for students, researchers, and practitioners alike in years to come.

The special issue will be out in hard copy in December, but the articles are already published online. And so, as a service and in the spirit of getting good research out there sooner rather than later, I have taken the liberty to put together an improvised table of contents here with links to the articles:

Because of the set-up at the publisher, people not employed by research organizations probably will not have free access to the articles (except of, perhaps, through public libraries); should you have trouble with accessing the articles, contact the authors directly and they will likely be happy to provide you with pre-print versions of their articles.

For people attending the NordMedia 2015 conference in Copenhagen, which starts on Thursday, please note that some of the research found in the special issue will also be presented at the panel “Pushing the boundaries of journalism: Nordic cultural journalism in transition” on Friday, 10:15-12:00, in room 15A.1.13.

And should you be interested in our research on cultural criticism, stay tuned for the collaborative “From Ivory Tower to Twitter: Rethinking the Cultural Critic in Contemporary Media Culture“ research project that starts officially on September 1 this year.

New publication: post-industrial cultural criticism

It has been a busy summer in terms of publications as two articles, which I have worked on for quite some time, have finally been published and I have spent a lot of time writing my Danish-language textbook on online journalism (due to serious sickness, however, the actual finishing of the book manuscript is again postponed).

So, earlier this summer, the prestigious journal Journalism Practice published my research article “Post-Industrial Cultural Criticism: The everyday amateur expert and the online cultural public sphere“.

Here is the abstract:

Integrating perspectives from research into cultural and post-industrial journalism, this article presents a pilot study of websites with reviews of arts and culture conducted by amateurs. Such websites constitute a popular space for cultural criticism, and one that challenges traditional hierarchies within journalism. The article maps which Danish websites conduct arts and culture reviews, asks what features these websites have that facilitate public discourse, and measures the actual discussion on the websites. While academic diagnoses of the state of the online public sphere have generally been discouraging, this article argues that this is partly due to a strong focus on politics rather than on culture and illustrates how the cultural public sphere of online reviews constitutes a heterogeneous space for a public discussion about arts and culture. Furthermore, it shows that some amateur reviewers have highly specialized knowledge of culture and, on that basis, argues that the emergence of this type of critic might represent a qualitative strengthening of cultural criticism.

The article is the first tangible result of a long-time collaboration I’ve had (and have) with colleagues from Denmark and abroad in the NOS-HS funded research network Cultural Journalism in the Nordic Countries. The work will continue in the collaborative research project “From Ivory Tower to Twitter: Rethinking the Cultural Critic in Contemporary Media Culture”, which is headed by Nete Nørgaard Kristensen and has just received 6.2 m DKK from the Danish Council for Independent Research.

The article is part of a special issue of Journalism Practice on Cultural Journalism and the Media Reporting of Culture, which is edited by Nete Nørgaard Kristensen and Unni From and will be published in hard copy in December, 2015.

My article draws heavily upon some of the thoughts presented in the report Post-Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present by C.W. Anderson, Emily Bell, and Clay Shirky (2013) – if you have not read it yet, I absolutely recommend it. (Their work, in turn, borrows from an old article on Doc Searls’ blog.)

Because of the publisher’s business model, access to the article requires subscription, but send me an email and I’ll send you an early version of the article.

New grants for research into cultural criticism and media economics

These weeks have been very good in terms of getting funding for future research.

First, I am part of a research project called “From Ivory Tower to Twitter: Rethinking the Cultural Critic in Contemporary Media Culture“, which succeeded in landing 6.2 m DKK from the Danish Council for Independent Research. The collaborative project is headed by Nete Nørgaard Kristensen from the University of Copenhagen and aims at exploring current changes and transformations in the practice, authority, and status of cultural criticism and critics. It is a project, I and some of the other participants have been working on for a couple of years, actually, in different constellations (e.g., in the international research network Cultural Journalism in the Nordic Countries) and in connection with a coming special issue of Journalism Practice (more on that in a later post), but this large grant is a game-changer in terms of pushing this research agenda forward.

In addition to Kristensen and myself, the research group consists of Unni From (Aarhus University), Helle Kannik Haastrup (University of Copenhagen), Erik Svendsen (Roskilde University), Troels Østergaard (The Danish School for Media and Journalism), and one PhD fellow.

Second, I participate (though much more peripherally) in a Norwegian research project called “Digitization and Diversity – Potentials and challenges for diversity in the culture and media sector“. This project is housed by the Centre for Creative Industries at the Norwegian Business School in Oslo and landed 15 m NOK for researching (among other things) the business models of digital news over a three-year period. My part in this project is a minor one, but the grant will fund at least a one month stay as Visiting Fellow in Oslo.

Both of the projects deal with subject matters, which are already on my research agenda, and so the new funding does not fundamentally change my priorities. What they do is that they improve the working conditions and offer new possibilities – and they also allow me to go back to Oslo for an extended period of time, which was most rewarding for me last time.

So, happy times and bright outlooks. Have a nice summer, everyone.