Volume 20, Issue 5
  • ISSN 1569-2159
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9862



U.S. journalism during the Trump era has experienced numerous legitimacy attacks by the leading political figure. Building on the concepts of institutional legitimacy and intentional trust, this study analyzes legitimation narratives in projections of journalism’s future, using the Harvard University’s NiemanLab Predictions of Journalism from 2017 to 2021. Projectory narratives are meaningful constructions of a field’s future and provide guidance for its actors. The qualitative analysis of a Trump-related subset of predictions (ca.  = 130) convey (1) confrontational narratives of threat, self-reproach, and epistemological authority loss. Confrontational narratives serve to secure consent for suggested transparency and audience relationship building solutions. These (2) solution narratives represent trustification strategies. Lastly, (3) survival narratives aim at regaining authority and agency through legacy mythopoesis and the construction of a cautiously optimistic post-Trump outlook for journalism. Hence, the analysis of projectory narratives reveals how an organizational field collectively prepares for change to regain legitimacy.

Available under the CC BY-NC 4.0 license.

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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): digital journalism; discourse; disinformation; fake news; future; legitimacy; politics; renewal; Trump; truth
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