Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Mass Communication and Media Arts

First Advisor

Freivogel, William


The word journalist, and the domain of producers and texts that inhabit its boundaries, often lacks a clear and agreed definition. The dominant body of literature looks at journalists in the United States through a remote lens, locates them within a cadre of journalists operating out of a newsroom, and overlooks the multiple roles they inhabit at once. This dissertation represents an attempt to build on and extend the depth of definitions afforded the American print journalist offered in literature that dominates journalism studies. This dissertation utilizes critical textual analysis for a case study of journalists' letters to editors of journalism trade magazines to identify the patterned ways journalists define journalists. Deuze's (2005, 2007b) theory of the ideological definitions of journalists provides a framework for the analysis. Journalism trade magazines perform a special role as watchdogs of the press. Journalists who write letters to editors of these magazines are watching the watchdogs. This dissertation looks to those journalists' words to craft a nuanced understanding of the factors that shape the forces defining these journalists, their labor, and their pursuit of democratic ideals. Drawing from the corpus of letters published in American Journalism Review, Columbia Journalism Review, and Editor and Publisher, critical textual analysis identifies how discourses in the letters reflect or reshape traditional print journalists' self definitions. The result is a catalog of information that shapes an understanding of the letters within the individual ideological framework of the community of people who volunteer their opinions for publication in these journals. The dissertation works to develop a more complete picture of the ideology of traditional print journalists as it is defined in their own words.




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