Democracy beyond hard news: cultural journalism and the humanistic role
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This project makes the case that a new humanistic role should exist alongside the previously established monitorial, facilitative, radical, and collaborative journalistic roles outlined by Christians et al. (2009). Normative theory typically concerns itself with "hard" news when addressing the relationship between journalism and democracy, but through the application of Deweyan political philosophy it becomes possible to see how purportedly "soft" news, such as cultural journalism, also performs an important normative role. This blind spot can be partially traced to the complicated history between journalism studies and the humanities, resulting in the current landscape where cultural journalism is largely absent from scholarship within journalism ethics. Through analyzing both industry metacoverage and public-facing metajournalistic discourse it is clear that there is something important already regularly occurring within cultural journalism (such as literary journalism or arts criticism) that previous normative frameworks have failed to capture. The humanistic role is important to democracy in a similar manner to that of informal civic groups that help citizens learn how to form identities and nurture empathy for one another. Humanistic journalism may only be indirectly related to politics, but it serves to illuminate possibilities for how to live the good life within a particular community. Journalism's humanistic role contains unique motivations, norms, and practices that demonstrate why some "soft" news is not beyond democracy but vital to it.