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The article investigates the futures of journalism that pioneering entrepreneurial journalists anticipate. This comprises the different imaginaries that journalists employ to make sense of journalism’s present potentials, anticipate its possible futures, and inform their decision-making. By analysing semi-structured interviews with Finnish entrepreneurial journalists, the article identifies a peer-to-peer imaginary on which the interviewees draw and construct to anticipate the potential futures of journalism. In this peer-to-peer imaginary, journalism is produced in journalists’ and audiences’ peer networks of affinity and shared interests. The imaginary promises elevated audience engagement and increased income from audience members. It also emphasises journalistic work that is often seen as ideal: autonomous, multi-skilled, self-expressive and non-routine. Despite these potentially preferred outcomes, the imaginary risks distancing journalism from its public roles and embracing more individualised and market-oriented approaches. The peer-to-peer imaginary can shape a journalism that is increasingly elitist by orienting it towards serving paying audiences, contributing to the fragmentation of public discussion by its focus on niche interests and playing into the power interests of global social media platforms that govern much of the digital media infrastructure. The imaginary, thus, mirrors the prevailing contemporary tendency to employ emancipatory visions of digital technologies for commercial objectives.
Ruotsalainen, J., Heinonen, S., Hujanen, J., & Villi, M. (2021). Pioneers as Peers: How Entrepreneurial Journalists Imagine the Futures of Journalism. Digital Journalism. https://doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2021.1996252