Hybrid professionalism in journalism: Opportunities and risks of hacker sources


  • Philip Di Salvo Università della Svizzera italiana (USI), Institute of Media and Journalism
  • Colin Porlezza City, University of London, Department of Journalism https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1400-5879




boundary work, hackers, hybridity, journalism ethics, news sources, field theory, hacking


Hackers have a double relevance with regard to the transformation of the journalistic field: first, they have established themselves as journalistic actors, even if their work may sometimes seem unfamiliar. Second, hackers have not only become important sources for information but they are also a topic of public interest in a data-driven society increasingly threatened by surveillance capitalism. This paper critically discusses the role of hackers as news sources by analyzing the “stalkerware” investigation carried out by the online news magazine Motherboard. Drawing from field theory and boundary work, the article sheds light on how hackers exert an increasing influence on journalism, its practices, epistemologies, and ethics, resulting in an increasing hybridization of journalism. Journalism has become a dynamic space, in which hackers are not only becoming relevant actors in the journalism field, but they often represent the only sources journalists have to shed light on wrongdoings. Hence, hackers are increasingly defining the conditions under which journalism is carried out, both in terms of its practices as well as in its normative framework.




How to Cite

Di Salvo, P., & Porlezza, C. (2020). Hybrid professionalism in journalism: Opportunities and risks of hacker sources. Studies in Communication Sciences, 20(2), 243–254. https://doi.org/10.24434/j.scoms.2020.02.007



Thematic Section: The Dissolving Boundaries of Hybrid Journalism