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Celebrity, journalism and self-identity

Celebrity, journalism and self-identity
Bethany Rowan Wishhart Usher


School of Media and Communication, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UNITED KINGDOM.


THIS thesis explores the intertwining discourses and displays of celebrity, print journalism and self-identity in the capitalist democracy of Britain, with particular consideration of relationships with US media cultures. Part One plots three successive phases in the development of celebrity journalism in relation to the “authentic self” linked to consumerism, “the citizen” linked to national identity, and “the star” linked to hyperreal self display. It spans the 18th to the late 20th centuries and considers celebrity and celebritised journalism in relation to socio-cultural, political, economic and media transformations. It argues celebrity and journalism cultures developed together, and this formed linguistic constructs and conventions that influenced how self-identity is articulated and constructed. Part Two considers how these themes shaped and are reshaped in digital spaces to create networked presentations of self-identity for specific social, political and commercial goals. It demonstrates how the thematic and structural conventions of celebrity journalism are used to effectively self-present on social media and the impact of this on news agendas. There is a gap in research in celebrity journalism due to it falling “between a number of disciplines, none of which have devoted sufficient attention” (Dubied and Hanitzsch 2014: 140). This study uses a theoretical framework and methodologies drawn from not only journalism and cultural studies, but also history, literature, sociology, and digital communications to demonstrate both the potentials and dangers of celebrity and celebritised journalism as a mechanism for constructing both self-identity and reality.