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Legitimacy has become a central issue in journalism, since the understanding of what journalism is and who journalists are has been challenged by developments both within and outside the newsrooms. Nonetheless, little scholarly work has been conducted to aid conceptual clarification as to how journalists justify themselves and their work. This article introduces an analytical framework for understanding legitimacy in a journalistic context. A framework based on a review of material ranging from historical accounts to research articles, and book-length studies. The framework comprises three distinct, but interconnected categories—preference, principle, and practice. Through this framework, historical attempts to justify journalism and journalists are described and discussed in the light of the present challenges for the profession.

Keywords: authority; journalism history; legitimacy; professionalism

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-06-01

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