This article is based on 63 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with professional journalists across career stages and across media in six European countries (UK, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Poland and Sweden), and is concerned with how journalists answer the question: How is what you do different from what citizen journalists do? Based on existing literature on journalistic authority and the professional project, three areas where claims to professional legitimacy and distinction from amateurs are identified: expertise, duty and autonomy. The interview data show that while claims based on expertise and duty are common when professional journalists want to demarcate the boundary between them and citizen journalism, claims based on direct reference to autonomy are non-existent. However, claims based indirectly on reference to autonomy, but institutional or collective rather than individual autonomy, are common. Indeed the key result of this study is that legitimacy claims based on the collective nature of the journalistic endeavour are very common, in contrast to earlier constructions of journalistic professionalism, which emphasized individualism and individual autonomy.
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