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Shifting foundations: journalism and the power of the 'common good'
journal contributionposted on 2017-08-01, 00:00 authored by Kristy HessKristy Hess
This essay rethinks the relationship between news media and the universal notion of the ‘common good’ as a key foundational concept for journalism studies. It challenges dominant liberal democratic theories of the press linked to the idea of the ‘public good’ to offer a new way of conceptualizing news media’s relationship to civic life that incorporates power and legitimacy in the changing media world. In doing so, it argues current understandings of journalism’s relationship to the common good also require some re-alignment. The essay draws on Pierre Bourdieu to contend the common good can be understood as a global doxa – an unquestionable orthodoxy that operates as if it were objective truth – across wider social space. How this is carried out in practice depends on the specific context in which it is understood. It positions the common good in relation to news media’s symbolic power to construct reality and argues certain elites generate and reinforce their legitimacy by being perceived as central to negotiating understandings of the common good with links to culture, community and shared values.