Linda Kay, Rosemary C. Reilly, Kate Connolly and Stephen Cohen
This paper describes the impact of extensive journalistic coverage on a small community in Quebec that experienced the murder of a teenage girl by a local man. Press coverage of the case was intense, as journalists converged on the small rural town to cover the story and the subsequent arrest of the suspect and his parents. In presenting the voices of both local residents and a journalist, this paper illuminates the secondary trauma and symbolic violence that can result from some forms of news coverage of a traumatic event. Five key themes regarding the impact of the media on community residents arose from the data: alienation from the community, anger at the media’s public construction of the community, intrusion on community life, intrusion on the private processes of grief, and triggering renewed feelings of loss and grief. Implications for journalists are discussed, including being aware of the dynamics of symbolic violence and secondary trauma and incorporating positionality, empathy, and reflective practice into their reporting praxis.
Sallyanne Duncan and Jackie Newton
The death knock is a reporting task that presents its own particular pressures. In addition to the usual editorial, legal and ethical concerns, the potential for journalists to do harm is heightened as they attempt to interview already vulnerable people in a situation for which most are ill prepared. In this environment, reporters are generally expected to learn how to undertake this particular form of sensitive reporting “by doing”. Many journalists have received little or no training in this area and despite journalism educators demonstrating a willingness to prepare their students for their first attempt at this type of reporting, there is considerable confusion over the most appropriate and effective methods for doing so. This article discusses certain approaches, specifically role-playing, that could be used in the classroom. Journalists’ perceptions of the activity and their preparedness for it were identified in order to enrich educators’ understanding of the process. Three studies form the basis of this work – a survey of journalists’ attitudes to intrusive reporting, interviews with journalists and other interested parties on their perceptions of the death knock and educational strategies, and a focus group of current second and third year students.
Jenni Maenpaa and Janne Seppanen
Although the darkroom as a physical space has disappeared from newsrooms, it continues its life in an imaginary form, which sets the limits for digital photo editing. This article sheds light on this imaginary darkroom and its Tuchmanian rituals of objectivity by presenting results of a survey that was conducted in Finland among editorial staffs from different types of newspapers. By showing example sets of unaltered and altered photographic images, the survey mapped answers to such questions as: what are the limits of legitimacy for photo editing, what kinds of alterations in images should be announced to readers, and what effects may digital editing have on the alleged status of the “objective image”? The results show that all categories of staff generally oppose altering photographs used in a news context. The so-called objectivity of the journalistic image is an ideal that is deeply intertwined with journalistic work routines, but in concrete editing examples, opinions about what is acceptable and what is not may differ considerably. However, very often professionals refer to the ‘darkroom principle’: what was allowed in traditional darkrooms is allowed in digital editing, too.
Åsa Kroon & Mats Ekström
This study focuses on how interviewees’ utterances are used as resources in news production processes. We examine how these communicative units, here labelled ‘interview bites’, are integrated in every major aspect of the news production process as well as in the presentation of news reports. Basically, we argue that an interview bite operates in three distinct ways, as (a) a format, (b) a mental representation, and (c) an artefact. Although we claim that it has these different functions, the three dimensions interact and collectively work as powerful motivations for the choices made by reporters throughout the news production process. The data are gathered from field observations of Swedish reporters’ work at a major news desk and from in-depth reporter interviews. Theoretically, the study re-visits Clayman’s (1995) considerations for enhancing quotability: narrative relevance, conspicuousness and extractability. While maintaining these three basic cornerstones of what makes certain statements quote-worthy, a re-definition of the rationale behind each consideration is needed in order to make them relevant for our understanding of everyday news production practices.
This article looks closely at the issue of unionization among a sample of Arab journalists working in transnational media. Although divided geographically, these media share the same trait of addressing Arab audiences all over the Arab region and indeed the whole world. The main question addressed in this article is how those journalists perceive the role of unions and whether there are differences among those who work in Europe, particularly London, vis-à-vis those in the Gulf. The article is based on interviews with twenty-five journalists from such outlets, who were asked about their membership and views of journalism unions in their local or host countries. I argue that journalists who work in London and who have joined the British National Union of Journalists (NUJ) see the NUJ as part of the British political scene and consider it to be a powerful potential tool in defending journalists’ rights when reporting inside the Arab region.
Charles St. Cyr, Serena Carpenter and Stephen Lacy
This study used data from a survey of city government reporters at U.S. metropolitan daily newspapers to test the Lowrey and Mackey (2008) model of occupational competition. The results indicate that as the quality of Internet competition (as perceived by the U.S. city hall reporters) increased, reporters were more likely to report stories they might have missed and were more likely to increase the number of city government stories. This study also suggests that the perceptions of the reporters as well as the perceptions of editors play a role in the reaction to occupational competition and that city government reporters were affected more by the perceived quality of competitors’ coverage than by the number of news outlets providing that coverage.
Will Gore and John Horgan
Notes on Contributors
Jay G. Blumler
The Future of Journalism
Large parts of media development work have focused on providing support to create privately owned, independent media in transition and developing countries. The accepted logic of many donor organisations has been that creating external pluralism, i.e. having many different private media companies operating in one country is the best way to build democracy and to provide access and voice to citizens. Often the model of choice was the one that has dominated the media landscapes of the US and Europe since the Second World War: privately owned media funded through advertising and sales revenues. But as advertising income dwindles for traditional media and as newspapers close at alarming rates, the question arises whether promoting this business model in the developing world is the right way forward. In developing a response to this question, this article explains how media assistance has developed, identifies the main characteristics of the current crisis in journalism in the developed world and indicates how some of the experience gained in media development can help to provide answers to the current crisis. Media development itself has come a long way in recent years and today adopts a more holistic approach that focuses not only on building private media but recognises the need for legal reform, civil society involvement, enhanced professional capacity, strengthened institutions that support media freedom and development of technical media infrastructure.
Heikki Heikkila, Risto Kunelius and Laura Ahva
Uncertainty about the future of journalism and what may be expected from the news media have generated special interest in how news organisations connect with the audience. In this paper three analytical approaches are described: institutional connection, market connection and public connection. While the two former approaches are more familiar to the media industry, it is argued that the latter seems theoretically and empirically more useful. Future studies on journalism’s public connection should consider the fact that the relevance of journalism for its readers is embedded in the social fabric of their everyday lives. This approach needs to be informed by the key sociological concepts of networks, habits and interests. At the end of the paper a short outline of an audience research project recently launched in Finland is introduced.
Marina Vujnovic, Jane B. Singer, Steve Paulussen, Ari Heinonen, Zvi Reich, Thorsten Quandt, Alfred Hermida and David Domingo
This comparative study of user-generated content (UGC) in ten Western democracies examines the political economic aspects of citizen participation in online media, as assesed by journalists who work with this content. Drawing on interviews with more than 60 journalists, we explore their perceived economic motivations for an ongoing redefinition of traditional journalistic roles, as UGC becomes an increasingly dominant feature of news websites.
This paper examines new para-journalism forms such as micro-blogging as “awareness systems” that provide journalists with more complex ways of understanding and reporting on the subtleties of public communication. Traditional journalism defines fact as information and quotes from official sources, which have been identified as forming the vast majority of news and information content. This model of news is in flux, however, as new social media technologies such as Twitter facilitate the instant, online dissemination of short fragments of information from a variety of official and unofficial sources. This paper draws from computer science literature to suggest that these broad, asynchronous, lightweight and always-on systems are enabling citizens to maintain a mental model of news and events around them, giving rise to awareness systems that the paper describes as ambient journalism. The emergence of ambient journalism brought about by the use of these new digital delivery systems and evolving communications protocols raises significant research questions for journalism scholars and professionals. This research offers an initial exploration of the impact of awareness systems on journalism norms and practices. It suggests that one of the future directions for journalism may be to develop approaches and systems that help the public negotiate and regulate the flow of awareness information, facilitating the collection and transmission of news.
This paper considers the current and future role played by the document-leaking site Wikileaks in the process of investigative journalism, by analyzing the way in which Wikileaks has articulated its own relationship with the press and then detailing how reporters have actually discovered and used the site. My research shows that Wikileaks is used both as a regular destination and as a one-time source for leaked material; additionally, it is increasingly as a repository for leaked documents that are removed from print and online media outlets through legal action. I argue Wikileaks represents perhaps the most extreme of a number of new web-based interventions into the troubled climate for investigative reporting, and might usefully be seen less as an ‘outlier’ than as on the far end of continuum.
Christoph Neuberger and Christian Nuernbergk
This article discusses how the relationship between professional and participatory media could be described in a changing media environment. It presents key findings of a two-year research project which explored online journalism in Germany. The findings draw a multilayered picture of the latest developments concerning professional online newsrooms and their counterparts in participatory media. The data consist primarily of standardised interviews with editors-in-chief of online newsrooms. In most newsrooms, they produce a supra-regional and comprehensive news offer on their websites each day. 183 newsrooms participated in the survey, which was conducted in 2007 (response rate: 44%). At first glance, three different relations can be identified between professional and participatory media: competition, complementarity and integration. We found little evidence that weblogs or other forms of participatory media are replacing traditional forms of journalism. It seems to be more likely that they complement one another. Besides this, we observed that the integration of audience participation platforms into news websites is expansive. Therefore, the study also reflects on the following questions: How do newsrooms manage user contributions on their sites? What kinds of rules and features have already been implemented?
This paper discusses the political and social implications of the rise of ‘citizen journalism’ (CJ) in China, a country where mainstream media are still under tight control while social conflicts are intensifying and nationalistic sentiments are exacerbating. The impact of CJ on mainstream journalism (MJ) and public participation is mostly discussed in respect of Western democratic societies. We know little about CJ and its political and social impact in nondemocratic societies like China. This paper provides an analysis of four case-studies of CJ practice in China, which show that the impact of CJ on Chinese mainstream media and society is multifaceted. There is evidence that CJ is used by MJ as a news source as well as an alternative channel for distributing politically sensitive information. Therefore, it can be argued that CJ can work effectively together with MJ to make it more difficult for the Party to control online information flows within the country, even though CJ alone is unlikely to be a driving force in promoting social change in China. Meanwhile, CJ is also establishing itself as a vehicle for the expression of nationalistic sentiments.
In the 50 years between 1956 (when television began) and 2006, Australian newspapers grew and changed in fundamental ways. A content analysis of six of Australia’s leading papers, taken at decade intervals, showed, most obviously, that their size increased very substantially. The increase in editorial space was even greater, as the proportion of space taken by advertising declined. While in absolute terms, advertising volume grew steadily in the early decades, in the last two decades classified advertising declined both absolutely and proportionally, while the volume of feature advertising held up better. Newspapers in 2006 were very different visually from 1956. Several of these changes were introduce slowly, with only relatively modest changes between 1956 and 1976, but then change occurred at an accelerating rate, especially with the introduction of colour throughout the newspaper from the 1990s. The other significant trend in newspapers has been their increasing segmentation, with more specialised sections, many of them with distinctive advertising appeals.
Much like their counterparts in the US and elsewhere, British newspaper publishers have seen a sharp decline in revenues from traditional sources – print advertising and copy sales – and many are intensifying efforts to generate new income by expanding their online offerings. A study of the largest-circulation newspapers in the 66 cities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland showed that while only a small minority did not have companion websites, many of the publishers who do have an online presence have transferred familiar revenue models. It has also been recognised that income from these sources is not enough to sustain current operations and innovative publishers have diversified into additional broad categories of Web business models. Significantly, this study did not only compare the approaches of various news publishers with each other, but it also considered how active newspaper publishers were in taking advantage of the variety of business models generally being employed on the Web1 – and which opportunities were ignored.
Professional journalists rate investigating, fact checking, and standards of accuracy, high among the qualities that set them apart from amateur journalists and bloggers. This paper addresses the spread and the implications of news “cannibalization”, (taking material from other news organisations, without attribution). It asks how the loss of exclusivity is impacting on practices of reporting and on standards of “accuracy” and “sincerity” and suggests that establishing new standards of transparency could help protect professional reporting in the new, networked era, as well as improving ethical standards in journalism.
Privacy is one of the key ethical restrictions for journalists. It is the ethical dilemma that most often, and certainly most contentiously, collides with the right to freedom of expression that is used as the rationale to under-pin press freedom. The attempts by UK courts to determine this balance by developing the law of privacy through the law of confidence and the Human Rights Act, have attracted much attention and often condemnation by a UK media concerned that their freedom to publish popular, but intrusive, celebrity news might be more tightly controlled. Court cases won by celebrities have sparked outrage in the press as they have tightened the definition of confidence, so making intrusion in some cases more difficult. However, definitions of privacy are also being tightened by regulators, including the statutory broadcast regulators and the Press Complaints Commission (PCC - which covers press and many news internet sites) following a number of important incidents requiring adjudication – many of which have received very little attention. Broadcasting has been more prominent with a couple of cases seizing the headlines, but the PCC has been working more quietly although just as importantly, defining new levels of privacy with a series of cases that will set the standard for photographs and reports concerning suicide, as well as privacy over health issues – all elements a good deal more central to standard reporting than their titles suggest. As the PCC is self-regulatory, the press it controls must either agree its rulings or risk making it unworkable; as doomed as its predecessor the Press Council. This study of its key judgements in this area over the past five years is therefore important since it is likely that these rulings will have far more effect on the future of reporting in the press and on the internet than any of the much-criticised cases from the courts.
Trade magazines devoted to coverage of the changes and challenges facing the American journalism industry and the practitioners of its craft are vital resources for understanding journalism’s terrain. However, scholars tend to prefer institutionalized qualitative and quantitative methods for the study of journalism, so these magazines – as windows into the field – have been underutilized as scholarly resources. Letters to editors of American Journalism Review, Columbia Journalism Review, and feature unique, monologic conversations by wide range of American journalism’s laborers, profiteers, and consumers. The introduction of online publication and other forms of multimedia as valid journalism has afforded a cacophony of voices access to publication methods traditionally reserved for members of the commercial press. The implications of this change are reflected across a broad spectrum of the media landscape, including the letters pages used as data here. Deuze’s (2005) model of professional journalism’s occupational ideology is used here as a model for critical analysis of letters published in the magazines from 1998 to 2008. Ultimately, the letters suggest journalists’ ideological constraints have withstood many of the cultural and economic pressures of the past decade despite ample opportunities for growth and progressive change.
The media in much of sub-Saharan Africa is severely constrained by several factors: lack of resources, government pressure, the influence of media ownership and the declining quality of secondary education and professional journalism education. In many countries, newspapers are unable to perform the role of watchdog or effectively educate the public in part because of the difficulties faced by the journalists in their employ. Into the breach has stepped a plethora of foreign organizations which provide journalism training. Some of these are non-governmental organizations with a development agenda that seek to promote education about their causes. Others are the training arms of professional media groups (Thomson Reuters, BBC Trust) or are organizations that work on journalism education (the Berlin-based International Institute for Journalism and the International Center for Journalism in Washington DC). This study – which includes content analysis and interviews with journalists who have received journalism training - considers these training efforts to see how effective they have been. The paper argues that given the challenges faced by the African media, donor-driven training programs will have only a limited effect on the larger media climate.
Jane B Singer
This study of local British newspaper journalists focuses on three aspects of entrenched newsroom culture -- news values and norms, work routines and outputs, and occupational roles – to explore the boundaries that journalists see as distinguishing them from outside contributors. Findings suggest they view UGC from a traditional professional perspective and weigh its benefits in terms of its contribution to the journalism they produce. While most are open to its inclusion on newspaper websites, particularly as a traffic builder and supplemental source of hyperlocal information, they believe UGC can undermine journalistic norms and values unless carefully monitored – a gatekeeping task they fear cannot fit within newsroom routines threatened by resource constraints of increasing severity.
The need to distinguish clearly the disciplines involved in quality reporting from the now universal capacity for conveying facts and opinions has never been more widely acknowledged. To date, attempts to classify the attributes of journalistic practice have encompassed professional traits or values, journalists’ criteria of quality or excellence, and the elements or principles underlying journalism. This paper considers the utility of those streams of work for evaluating the practice of journalism and builds on the classical study of rhetoric in order to propose a new assessment framework. The proposed framework is organized within five ‘faculties’ (discovery, examination, interpretation, style and presentation). Specific evaluative topics are associated with each of the faculties, plus potential standards (quality journalism is independent, accurate, open to appraisal, edited and uncensored) and criteria of excellence (the best journalism is ambitious, undaunted, contextual, engaging and original).
Seth C. Lewis, Kelly Kaufhold, and Dominic L. Lasorsa
This study seeks to understand how community newspaper editors negotiate the professional complexities posed by citizen journalism—a phenomenon that, even in the abstract, would appear to undermine their gatekeeping control over content. Through interviews with 29 newspaper editors in Texas, we find that some editors either favor or disfavor the use of citizen journalism primarily on philosophical grounds, while others favor or disfavor its use mainly on practical grounds. This paper presents a mapping of these philosophical-versus-practical concerns as a model for visualizing the conflicting impulses at the heart of a larger professional debate over the place and purpose of user-generated content in the news production process.
Moreover, these findings are viewed in light of gatekeeping, which, we argue, offers a welcome point of entry for the study of participatory media work as it evolves at news organizations large and small alike. In contributing to a growing body of literature on user-generated content in news contexts, this study points to the need for better understanding the causes and consequences of journalism’s hyperlocal turn, as digitization enables newswork to serve increasingly niche geographic and virtual communities.
The training of journalists in a university context must fulfil a twofold requirement, as it unavoidably has to integrate theory and practice, academic study and practical application – this is the central didactic challenge. There is no doubt, however, that the concepts of theory and practice are employed in a diffuse way in the current debates both within the relevant academic fields and elsewhere. The present article seeks to sketch out the difficulties, which will inescapably arise in any attempt to integrate academic study and practical application within a university, and it relates these difficulties to specific fundamental problems (the problem of definition, the problem of reputation and recognition, the problem of concretisation, etc.).
In addition, the author demonstrates by results from his own project work how this integration of theory and practice may be successfully accomplished. The essential purpose of the article is to initiate a didactic debate that meets the demands of the university as well as the requirements of professional practice in equal measure.
Fernando Lopez Pan
The journalist usually introduces the voices of different people —sources, witnesses, and protagonists— into the writing of the news. This makes studying how oral discourse is translated into writing, along with the consequent ethical implications that this implies, a very interesting field within journalism. This article, limited to Spain, shows that while newspaper stylebooks and news writing manuals require that direct quotes be textual transcriptions of the words of the person quoted, research conducted by Spanish scholars whose background is in linguistics shows that direct quotes in print media sometimes change with respect to the actual words used by the quoted speaker.
This creates two problems: first, the risk that some readers may interpret erroneously the direct quotes in the news, as literal transcriptions of the words said, when that is not always the case. Second, that news-writing textbooks do not train journalists for the use of others’ voices in the news they report.
Campaign journalism is a distinctive but under-researched form of editorialised news reporting that aims to influence politicians rather than inform voters. In this it diverges from liberal norms of social responsibility, but instead campaigning newspapers make claims to represent the interests or opinions of publics such as their readers or groups affected by the issue. This could be understood as democratically valid in relation to alternative models such as participatory or corporatist democracy. This essay examines journalists’ understanding of the identity and views of these publics, and how their professional norms are operationalised in their journalistic practice in relation to five case studies in the Scottish press.
The campaigns are analysed in terms of four normative criteria associated with corporatist and participatory democracy: firstly, the extent to which subjective advocacy is combined with objectivity and accuracy; secondly, the extent to which civic society organisations are accorded access; thirdly, whether the disadvantage of resource-poor groups in society is compensated for; and finally, to what extent the mobilisation of public support for the campaigns aims to encourage an active citizenry.
Confessional journalism has become a staple of contemporary journalism, either in the form of first person real life experiences (often ghosted by journalists) or regular columns by journalists detailing intimate details of their lives. The form is now recognised as a distinct genre but what has not received attention, except as an internal debate within journalism itself, are the consequences of this form of writing for journalism and journalists. There is mounting evidence that editors are exerting pressure towards this form of writing, favouring particular types of writers. This article investigates the compelling ethical implications for writers and their subjects within the genre and argues that these implications are producing distinctive journalistic responses and strategies.
Notes on Contributors
Monica L öfgren Nilsson
Although many news organizations claim to be gender neutral, and are more often than not treated as such within research, organizations are indeed gendered. By analysing a Swedish broadcasting newsroom, this study shows how gender expectations were embedded in daily practice, in routines and rituals. Furthermore, the study highlights how daily practice and cultural meanings interact with the gendered division of labour in the newsroom.
When news reporters connect people in a news story they essentially construct social networks in the news media. Networks through which news sources can be aligned symbolically in written, audible or visual form. This particular type of network is first defined and described with reference to the ways in which the concept of networks has previously been used by researchers and news reporters. Following this conceptualization the vision of networks in the news media and the adjacent vocabulary are then operationalized and used as backdrop for an analysis of Danish newspapers from 1905-2005.
This is an approach that can help delineate - and graphically visualize - how networks in the news media have evolved over the past century, and the content analysis shows that the socio-symbolic networks not only augment communicative actors and structures from parliament and other pre-existing platforms for communication, but also complement or even substitute them. The development offers people both inside and outside news rooms new potentials – and problems – when it comes to affecting the lives of people connected directly or indirectly to the networks.
To successfully cast an issue as an extraordinary threat requiring a suspension of normal political functions is to “securitize” it. This content analysis uses portrayals of the “war on terror” in three U.S. newspapers from 2001 to 2006 to show how a securitization frame can be invoked or contested and how it changes across time. Results suggest the importance to political figures of being able to invoke security, not only on matters of political violence but on such other issues as immigration or public health.
In an increasingly digital world where many are predicting the doom of the traditional newspaper, the media are turning to the masses to report and help report through the power of Internet journalism. Taking their cues from other areas such as photography and science, news organizations are employing the increasingly popular concept of “crowdsourcing” where tasks traditionally performed by employees are outsourced to a large network of people, recruited through an open call.
This paper examines five different cases of crowdsourced journalism, classified on the basis of type of coverage and audience demographic. The study explores the strategies employed in each case, analyzes the benefits and pitfalls, and offers suggestions and ideas for future ventures. Observations and insights from journalists in different organizations are used to evaluate how crowdsourcing is blurring the lines between journalists as reporters and citizens as consumers.
John esley and M. Chris Roberts
Analysis of qualitative interviews with newspaper journalists who have covered an instance of citizen deliberation show that these journalists are largely positive about the role that extended modes of citizen engagement can play in public governance. The journalists report that deliberation represents a unique way for citizens to communicate with decision-makers, and the process itself is considered newsworthy.
They further highlight their belief in the potential for deliberation to enhance citizen knowledge and efficacy while expressing pessimism about the potential for deliberation to have much impact on decision-makers. The journalists argue that citizen engagement could play an important role in public discussion about complex issues, though challenges exist. The manuscript describes what these results may mean for those interested in “mediated” deliberation, and it suggests areas of future research.
Ever since Tom Wolfe wrote a thirteen page essay entitled The birth of the new journalism, eyewitness report by Tom Wolfe, in the Seventies, debate has raged over the nature of this New Journalism or literary journalism or creative non-fictions. Yet geographically, the debate has been confined to the United States and the UK. Australia has remained notably silent on the issue. One thing is certain, no matter where the debate was born – the nomenclature would not be definitive.
There is no consensus among media theorists about an appropriate name. This paper investigates the history of the US and UK evolution of the genre pre and post Tom Wolfe. Drawing on new research, it then adds Australian voices to the “naming” debate. Creative non-fiction courses are in high demand within the Australian academy. Coupled with the advent of contemporaneous internet news, this paper suggests that perhaps Australian newspapers should recognise and exploit this genre to reinvigorate its backgrounding news sections, investing journalists with more time, space and resources to write within the genre on running news stories of the day.
David Baines and Ciara Kennedy
News industry employers want recruits to meet their stated needs for an ever-expanding range of skills, and their wishes largely determine the form of journalism education. But traditional news work and career paths appear to be dissolving. Boundaries between work in journalism, PR and information brokerage are porous. Careers on which journalism graduates are embarking, like those of many journalists today, are increasingly likely to feature consecutive and concurrent periods of long-term employment; short-term contracts; self-employment; working in temporary clusters on specific projects - and perhaps outside media, news and communication altogether. In the light of these changes, this paper argues that educators should look beyond the demands of traditional employers of journalists and strive to give students the opportunity to become entrepreneurial self-employed agents, who might compete with, as well as serve, other media organisations.
The argument here is that students need to gain skills and knowledge to act as reliable analysts and brokers of information in ever-more complex social and political contexts, and, in doing so, develop creative, innovative, experimental and entrepreneurial approaches to journalism. The paper concludes by highlighting several strategies to encompass these objectives within a coherent curriculum, but does not claim that these suggested solutions are exhaustive.
Notes on Contributors