Vaios Papanagnou

Vaios Papanagnou

PhD Researcher

Department of Media and Communications

About me

Research Topic

Social media and the transformation of journalism

I am interested in the influence of social media on the transformation of journalism. I argue that this is a relationship that now enters its second phase, following a decade’s use and experimentation with online networking platforms in newsrooms around the world.

From an academic perspective the relationship between journalism and technology has been approached in terms of a tension between optimism and pessimism. Optimists emphasise the non-hierarchical organisation of networks that disrupts established relations of power: journalism is willy nilly transformed into a more transparent and participatory practice. Pessimists see the systemic reaction of institutional journalism protecting its turf with its political and economic resources and the determination of social media by neoliberal principles encoded in their algorithmic logics.

Reading in this tension the sociological gridlock between agency and structure, and motivated by a realist epistemology that recognises a social problem in the destruction of jobs in this sector, I move to investigate change in modern journalism from a conceptual framework that understands practice as the interplay between action and structure borrowing from Giddens , Bourdieu, and Boltanski. Recognising journalists as the reflexive subjects solely responsible of fashioning their own identities I seek to answer the research questions: ‘How do journalists use and justify using social media?’ ‘How do journalists negotiate the tensions between their autonomy and the heteronomous demands from the field of social media?’. My perspective rests on the understanding that journalists use language to act and justify their action, constructing their identities in discourse as amalgams of values and power positions.

My study is based on a series of depth interviews with journalists from the Guardian. This is a case study of a paradigmatic organisation in the global mediascape: a quality publisher recognised as a trusted, authoritative journalistic voice with the power to influence the sector well beyond its immediate UK context. 

Supervisors: Professor Lilie Chouliaraki, Professor Charlie Beckett


I hold a Master’s in Electronic Communication from University College London, and a Bachelor’s in Linguistics from the University of Athens. I have worked as a journalist in news and magazines for over a decade. 

Working Papers

(2017) The transformation of journalism and social media: a case study of the Guardian. Paper presented at the ISA RC 52 Conference: Change in Professions and Professionalism: Signs and Directions, Oslo, Norway, 8-10 June 2017

(2017) Change in journalism: justifying the domestication of social media in the Guardian. Paper presented at the 13th Conference of the European Sociological Association, Athens, 29 August - 1 September 2017.