Date of Award

May 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design

Committee Member

Cameron Bushnell

Committee Member

Abel Bartley

Committee Member

David Blakesley

Committee Member

Joe Mazer


This dissertation analyzes the current principles of journalism that govern professional journalists. For more than a century, mainstream journalists accepted objectivity as the best practice to report fairly, accurately, and without bias. As defined by Brian Brooks, Beverly Horvit, and Daryl Moen (2020) in News Reporting & Writing, “Objectivity was a reliance on observable facts, but it was also a methodology for freeing factual reporting from the biases and values of source, writer or reader” (Brooks et al. 2020). Today in the 21st century, journalism still holds itself up as objective. Participatory journalism has been demeaned by many in the field of journalism for being amateurish in quality and overly emotional in tone; however, it has a role to play in the transformation of the field of journalism. I argue that participatory journalism, if undertaken by professional journalists, is beneficial in reporting because it puts the journalist in the same communicative space as the audience. The journalist’s lived experience becomes identifiable to the people he/she is reporting to. This new category of reporting, I’m calling Professional Participatory Journalism. This dissertation defines this new role, examines the case study of Black Lives Matter and COVID – 19 where its usefulness becomes apparent, and suggests a new curriculum for journalism schools that incorporates the role of Professional Participatory Journalism.

Keyword: Journalists, Professional Journalists, Objectivity, Citizen Journalist, Citizen Journalism, Participatory Journalism, Practicing Journalists, Kenneth Burke, Walter Lippman, Identification, Agenda-Setting Theory



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