Digital Media: Resilience and Malleability of Occupational Cultures

Digital media did not have the same impact on reporters, particularly with respect to occupational norms and performances. Even though there was a growing sense of waning authority of journalism, particularly social media have not challenged traditional ideas of professionalism in the German case. Traditionalists still dominated the LP while they represented a defeated minority in the LCA. In light of the immediacy-obsessed, snarky social media reporting many of their colleagues got into, traditionalists held an essentialist view of professionalism and saw a deviation of norms on one platform as undermining journalism altogether in the US case. Innovators, who represent about half of the LCA, believed in the value of diversified professional performances. Still practicing traditional journalism in legacy news venues, they engaged in performances of transparency on Twitter, which followed different occupational roles, norms, and forms of expression.

Twitter was so successful in the LCA because its participatory promises appealed simultaneously to professional and economic concerns: reclaiming interpretive authority by retrieving and better serving dissipating net audiences, generating web traffic and strengthening consumer loyalty. After adopting Twitter, state house reporters discovered further advantages of it. The performance of transparency of other reporters fostered more space- transcendent news reporting, helped them anticipate future events, and immediately convert exclusive on-site information into discursive influence. To them, these benefits outweighed the costs of the new news situation, namely the often paralyzing drama of instantaneity (Papacharissi and de Fatima Oliveira 2012) that stifles in-depth reporting and the frequent contradictory feedback loops between digital and non-digital spaces.

The difference in digital media adoption was not only a function of still more profitable legacy media in Germany that was less compelled to tap new revenue streams online. The fact that civic power shields the journalistic field more from commercial pressures in Germany and the more normatively consensual and change-resistant occupational culture mutually reinforced each other. A national repertoire of evaluation defined by collectivism and idealism creates the basis for more rigid cultural boundaries that are relatively resistant to technologically induced change.

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