Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

‘It’s Something Posh People Do’: Digital Distinction in Young People’s Cross-Media News Engagement

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Abstract:  In this article, I analyse digital distinction mechanisms in young people’s cross media engagement with news. Using a combination of open online diaries and qualitative interviews with young Danes aged 15 to 18 who differ in social background and education, and with Bourdieu’s field theory as an analytical framework, the article investigates how cultural capital (CC) operates in specific tastes and distastes for news genres, platforms and providers. The article argues that distinction mechanism not only works on the level of news providers and news genres but also on the level of engagement practices—the ways in which people enact and describe their own news engagement practices. Among those rich in CC, physical, analogue objects in the form of newspapers and physical conversations about news are seen as ‘better’ that digital ones, resulting in a feeling of guilt when they mostly engage with news on social media. Secondly, young people with lower CC discard legacy news, which they see as elitist and irrelevant. Thirdly, those rich in CC are media and news genre savvy in the sense that it makes them able to critically evaluate the news they engage with across platforms and sites.

Keywords:  engagement; diaries, distinction, field theory; media; news; social media intermediaries; young people



© Jannie Møller Hartley. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.