Challenging Journalistic Authority in the Networked Affective Dynamics of #Chemnitz
Makhashvili, Ana; Medeiros, Débora; Lünenborg, Margreth – 2022
Journalism as an institution is increasingly under pressure in hybrid media systems. Various far-right actors use social media platforms as a key staging ground for contesting legacy media. Drawing on affect theory and discursive institutionalism, this article empirically examines how journalistic authority was challenged on Twitter during far-right riots in the German city of Chemnitz in 2018. Through these public and networked contestations, we see the emergence of “affective publics” that form around shared and competing emotions. Through social network analysis, we examine the networked polarization around #Chemnitz. By applying in-depth textual analysis, we then untangle how far-right actors attack legacy media by strategically mobilizing and performing outrage. Based on our findings, we propose to understand journalism as an affective institution, whose authority is perpetually contested as affective publics gain agency. Such an understanding involves a profound questioning of the notion of objectivity that has been constitutive of journalism in the 20th century.