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The Future of Dispersed Journalism

Tampere University
Duration of project1.9.2020–31.8.2025
Area of focusSociety

This project investigates how start-up culture, metrics analysis and event production have become part of journalism in Finland. In the talks about the future of journalism, these three are often introduced as possible avenues for renewal. Hence journalism is increasingly developed outside of professional newsrooms by people who are not reporters or editors. This is conceptualized as “dispersed journalism”. The project will therefore critically assess the sustainability of journalism by looking away from journalists.

The project widens the scope of traditional journalism research: on top of the journalistic field it focuses on emerging practices from the fields of (1) business, (2) technology and (3) culture. The project will take, for example, investors, data analysts and event organizers as valid informants on journalism in its separate sub-studies.

In addition, the project develops practice-oriented qualitative methodology for journalism studies. The main methods of data collection are mapping, observation, interviews, visual ethnography and ethnographic shadowing. This data that will be analyzed through practice, situational and positioning analysis.

The main theoretical framework of the study is practice theory, which provides means to conceptualize journalism as an institution of fact-based public communication that is enacted through practices by various actors, not only professional journalists. Practice theory provides analytical tools for breaking down the examined practices into the basic elements of activity, materiality and meaning. This, in turn, makes it possible to examine whether and through which of the basic elements the emerging practices reconstruct journalism. The framework is useful for following the power flows through which practices from neighboring fields spread into journalism and journalistic practices move beyond media organizations, and for critically discussing the sustainable future of journalism.


Research Council of Finland

Funding source

Academy of Finland
Project: 333503

Contact persons

Laura Ahva
Associate Professor & Academy Research Fellow
Journalism Studies
Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences
Research Centre COMET
Tampere University, Finland
laura.ahva [at] (laura.ahva (at)
+358-50-5099 219