Breaking boundaries: Journalism studies, emerging media ecologies and the new emotional politics

The keynote speaker at the 2019 ECREA Journalism Studies Section Conference will be Professor Karin Wahl-Jorgensen, Cardiff University.


This talk considers how emerging media ecologies, coupled with shifts in public discourse, are challenging received assumptions about journalism, and therefore also raising fundamental questions for journalism scholars.

On the basis of research focusing on the role of emotions in mediated politics (e.g. Wahl-Jorgensen, 2018), the talk proposes the need to closely examine binary distinctions shaping our inquiry, including those between objectivity and emotionality, and journalists and audiences.

In particular, the talk suggests that the rise of social media and the populist discourse it has facilitated undermines the authority of journalism and its privileged position in epistemic hierarchies. It takes a closer look at the example of the emotional politics of Donald Trump – the ways in which he both elicits and expresses a distinctive range of emotions, giving rise to a shift in the “emotional regime” (Reddy, 2001).  Based on an analysis of media coverage and social media debates, the talk looks at how the Trump era has made anger a dominant political emotion – one which shapes how political decisions and events are justified, interpreted and contested. This anger is not merely articulated and elicited by Trump, but also by his supporters and opponents.

The era of angry populism, the talk suggests, has been facilitated by a confluence of circumstances linked to transformations in journalism, alongside a series of broader social, political and economic trends. These require a careful and nuanced analysis that journalism studies is well placed to offer.