Bourdieu’s field theory presents a distinction between the autonomy of a field and the heteronomity of the fields that surround and potentially encroach on it. Journalism is one such field which attempts to maintain its autonomy in the face of change imposed from beyond its boundaries. This paper looks at how the field of journalism responds to two incursions in the form of feedback: quantitative Web analytics and qualitative reader comments. Each offers an opportunity for the field to adapt to incorporate it—that is, turn heteronomous input into autonomous doxa—or to resist it. Based on an ethnography of eight digital newsrooms, it looks at when the voice of the people is accepted as legitimate input and internalised, and when it is resisted as illegitimate and kept external. The implications for further theorising on the relationship between adjacent fields, as well as autonomous and heteronomous aspects of field theory, are discussed.
- field theory
- Web analytics