The colour-line of journalism

Exploring racism as a boundary object in journalistic practice and principles




Boundary work, Discourse analysis, Journalism, Race, Racism, Minority voices


This article argues that Danish journalistic boundary producing practices and principles uphold a representation of racial disparity. Based on critical theories of race and racism in journalism and a boundary work framework, we conduct a discursive analysis of two collective case studies that encompass 56 articles and 23 Facebook posts. Focusing mainly on 1) the construction of knowledge about potential racism, 2) who are positioned as authorities on the topic of racism, and 3) who are missing among the potential actors in the stories, we identify meta-journalistic discourses and the (re)establishment of journalistic principles and practices. We conclude that journalistic norms and practices, for now, withstand the challenges posed by minority media’s call for the recognition of race as structure by applying discursive strategies of firstly rejecting racism as structure and secondly asserting principles and practices of specific kinds of objectivity, utilising, for instance, elite sources.

Author Biographies

Camilla Dindler, Aalborg University

Camilla Dindler is Associate Professor of Communications at Aalborg University, Copenhagen. She has practised and studied journalism extensively and published on the topics of journalism practices and health communication. 

Bolette B. Blaagaard, Aalborg University

Bolette B. Blaagaard is Associate Professor of Communication at Aalborg University, Copenhagen. She has worked extensively on the topic of citizen journalism and citizen media, including in the publications Citizen Journalism as Conceptual Practice (Rowman & Littlefield 2018), Citizen Media and Public Spaces (Routledge 2016) co-edited with Mona Baker and The Routledge Encyclopedia of Citizen Media (Routledge 2020) co-edited with Mona Baker, Henry Jones, Luis Pérez-González. She is also the co-editor of the Routledge book series Critical Perspectives on Citizen Media.  


Amado, A & Waisbord, S. (2015). Divided we stand: Blurred boundaries in Argentine journalism. In M. Carlson & S.C. Lewis (eds.), Boundaries of Journalism. Professionalism, Practices and Participation (pp 51-66). Routledge.

Andreassen, R. (2007). Der er et yndigt land. Tiderne Skifter.

Baker, H. A. (1994). Critical Memory and the Black Public Sphere. Public Culture, 7(1), 3-33.

Blaagaard, B. B. (2016) Reading the Herald Today. Postcolonial Notes on Journalism and Citizen Media. In Ponzanesi, S. & Colpani, G. (eds.). Post-colonial Transitions in Europe: Contexts, Practices and Politics. (pp. 231-250). Rowman & Littlefield.

Blaagaard, B. B. (2018) Citizen Journalism as Conceptual Practice. Postcolonial Archives and Embodied Political Acts of New Media. Rowman & Littlefield.

Berger, P.L. & Luckmann, T. (1967). The Social Construction of Reality. Penguin Books.

Blumler, J.G. & Gurevitch, M. (1995). The Crisis of Public Communication. Routledge.

Bourdieu, P. (1989). Social Space and Symbolic Power. Sociological Theory, 7(1), 14-25.

Carlson, M. (2016). Metajournalistic Discourse and the Meanings of Journalism: Definitional Control, Boundary Work, and Legitimation. Communication Theory, 26(4), 349–368.

Carlson, M. (2015). Introduction: The many boundaries of journalism. In M. Carlson & S.C. Lewis (eds.), Boundaries of Journalism. Professionalism, Practices and Participation (pp. 1-18). Routledge.

Christiansen, Connie Caroe (2004) News Media Consumption among Immigrants in Europe. The Relevance of Diaspora. Ethnicities 4(2), 185- 207.

Downing, J. & Husband, C. (2005). Representing ‘Race’. Sage.

Flyvbjerg, B. (1991). Rationalitet og magt. Bind I: Det konkretes videnskab. Akademisk Forlag

Foucault, M. (1971/1994). Nietzsche, genealogy, history. In J. D. Faubion (ed.), Michel Foucault essential works of Foucault 1954-1984. Volume 2. Aesthetics (pp. 169-391). Penguin.

González, J. & Torres, J. (2011). News for All the People. The Epic Story of Race and the American Media. Verso.

Hall, S. (1985). Signification, Representation, Ideology: Althusser and the Post-Structuralist Debates. Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 2(2), 91-114.

Hall, S. (1997/2002). Foucault: Power, Knowledge and Discourse. In Wetherell, M., S. Taylor & S. Yates (eds.): Discourse Theory and Practice. (pp. 72-81). Sage.

Hall, S., Critcher, C., Jefferson, T., Clarke, J., & Roberts, B. (1978). Policing the Crisis. Palgrave.

Hanitzsch, T., & Vos, T. (2017). Journalistic Roles and the Struggle Over Institutional Identity: The Discursive Constitution of Journalism. Communication Theory, 27(2), 115–135.

Hussain, M. (2000) Islam, Media and Minorities in Denmark. Current Sociology 48(4), pp. 95-116.

Mahoney, J. & Thelen, K. (2010). A Theory of Gradual Institutional Change. In J. Mahoney & K. Thelen (eds.), Explaining Institutional Change – Ambiguity, Agency, and Power (pp. 1-37). Cambridge University Press.

Matamoros-Fernández, A. (2017). Platformed racism: the mediation and circulation of an Australian race-based controversy on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Information, Communication & Society, 20(6), 930-946.

Richardson, A.V. (2020). Bearing witness while black. Oxford UP.

RunRepeat (2020, 21 July). Racial Bias in Football Commentary (Study).

Schudson, M. (1978). Discovering the News. A Social History of American Newspapers. Basic Books.

Slots- og Kulturstyrelsen (2020). Mediernes udvikling i Danmark/Medievirksomheders beskæftigelse (Media development in Denmark/Media companies’ employment).

Stake, R. E. (1995). The Art of Case Study Research. Sage.

Titley, G. (2020). Is Free Speech Racist?. Polity.

van Dijk. T. A. (2016). Racism and the Press. Routledge.

Vogel, T. (ed.) (2001). The Black Press. Rutgers UP.

Zelizer, B. (1992). CNN, the Gulf War, and Journalistic Practice. Journal of Communication, 42 Winter, 66-81. https://doi. org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1992.tb00769.x




How to Cite

Dindler, C., & Blaagaard, B. B. (2021). The colour-line of journalism: Exploring racism as a boundary object in journalistic practice and principles. Journalistica, 15(1).



Special Issue: Journalism on the edge