Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Communication

First Advisor

Barbie Zelizer

Abstract

This dissertation examines how U.S. newspaper journalists respond in their newspapers to the ongoing secular decline of the U.S. newspaper industry. Focusing on the U.S. metropolitan daily newspaper, this dissertation theorizes newspaper journalists as a mnemonic community and examines self-reflexive, published responses to three material manifestations of industrial decline: job losses, the sales of newspaper buildings and headquarters and accompanying newsroom moves, and the closings of newspapers. Collective nostalgia is manifest in each of these case studies, and this dissertation argues that collective nostalgia provides newspaper journalists with a structure of feeling to turn to when the structure of feeling of newspaper journalism has been eroded by industrial decline. The use of collective nostalgia helps preserve the values of newspaper journalism for the future, even as it periodizes and thus consigns newspaper journalism itself to the past. Nostalgized values are not just preserved for journalists and for future reconfigurations of journalism, but also are seeded in other cultural products, from film to museum exhibitions to literary journals. Collective nostalgia thus helps spread newspaper journalism’s structure of feeling into wider cultural memory at a time when newspaper journalism itself is less able to maintain that structure of feeling. Ultimately, this dissertation further elaborates the concept of collective nostalgia, through articulations of the specific dimensions manifest in the discourse studied in this dissertation, and through a discussion of how that collective nostalgic discourse circulates in and outside of the U.S. newspaper.

Embargoed

Available to all on Tuesday, December 21, 2021

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