Youth Media and the Business of Content: conflict, agency and counter-hegemony in a branded age

Medeiros, Vince. 2020. Youth Media and the Business of Content: conflict, agency and counter-hegemony in a branded age. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Many youth media channels today position themselves as purveyors of counterhegemonic journalism aimed at a young and increasingly disenfranchised audience. As such, they play a vital role in offering media spaces where new and adversarial discourses can circulate and grow.

However, in a landscape where print advertising revenues have collapsed and where digital display advertising no longer sustains growth, youth media are also increasingly reliant on the production of content on behalf of brands. Such a process not only has the potential to commodify and commercialise, but may also impact on prospects for counter-hegemony while leading to the adoption of rationalising routines and practices.

In this thesis, I examine whether such changes are leading to important propositional and operational changes, and whether a hypercommercial business culture is taking hold. I assess the extent to which hypercommercialism enables or limits the production of counter-hegemonic content; whether it promotes journalistic autonomy or constrains it; whether it fuels disruptive practices or instead prioritises common regimes of accumulation. In other words, the thesis examines output, as well as production, to assess whether a business model that relies, at least in part, on the production of content for clients can consistently produce journalism that challenges the system by offering important counter-hegemonic discourses for young people.

A multi-methods approach is applied to examine the impact that production practices have on output, and the type of content that is produced in light of specific production routines. Its bottom-up (production study) and top-down (textual and content analysis) methodology is designed to allow for triangulation and validation. My approach is also abductive, with the narrative constantly shifting between data and theoretical ideas around hypercommercialism.

In short, this research examines the intersection of branded content and journalism, seeking to document, understand and provide answers regarding the possibility of a hypercommercial business model supporting the production of counter-hegemonic content across youth media. Ultimately, this thesis identifies a particular, and possibly transitory, business dynamic in contemporary media markets. It explores a time when business models are in crisis, and when new sources of revenue are being sought.

Such a moment may be lasting or, more likely, temporary. But whatever the case, this study aims to further our understanding of how journalism intersects with business needs and culture, thus offering important clues for the ways in which a media system can serve its publics, and democracy, in a time of crisis.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


political economy, magazines, media, branded content, agency, journalism, counter-hegemony, youth culture, business models

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


31 May 2020

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

14 Jun 2021 08:48

Last Modified:

16 Dec 2022 12:59


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