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Journalism Practice 2011: Contents and Abstracts

Contents and Abstracts of December 2011

(Vol 5 - No 6)



Community Service: What editors like and users visit on local newspaper websites

Jane B. Singer

Armed with readily accessible online traffic logs that provide detailed information about the items users are selecting to view, editors are voicing concern about the potential effect on their own content decisions. Through a survey of local British newspaper editors, this article examines the overlap between user preferences, as suggested by assessments of website traffic, and content that editors identify as their best. Results are considered in the context of two related subsets of agenda-setting theory, as well as the sociological process of “making news.” The study finds overlap between broad categories of stories preferred by editors and users, but a considerable disconnect over the nature of the items within those categories.

Who’s Got the Power? Journalists’ Perceptions of Changing Influences over the News

Jesper Strömbäck & Michael Karlsson

Over the last decades, media environments have become radically transformed. Among the most significant changes is the rise of interactive media technologies, which raise new questions about how influence over media content has changed. At the same time, changes in media technologies and how they may change the influence over the news should not be understood in isolation from other changes in media environments. Against this background, the purpose of this paper is to investigate how much influence journalists ascribe to different sets of actors; how they perceive changes over time; and whether journalists working with online publishing differ in these respects from other journalists. Among other things, the study shows that the most influential group is perceived to be journalists, followed by the audience and media owners. The group that is perceived to have increased their influence the most is media owners. All investigated groups – except journalists – are perceived to have increased their influence at least somewhat. The results are discussed in the light of research on how interactive media technologies may reshape the influence over the news.

The Contingencies of Ordinary Citizen Appearances in Television News

David Nicolas Hopmann and Adam Shehata

While few would deny the crucial role of citizens in democratic governance, there are still only a few studies that focus on ordinary citizens’ inclusion in political news coverage. First, we present a number of factors conditioning ordinary citizens' appearances in the news. Second, based on the discussion of these factors, we formulate a number of research questions. After conducting an extensive content analysis covering almost 6,000 actors appearing in political news coverage in the two major Danish broadcasters, DR1 and TV2, between 1994 and 2007, we find that ordinary citizens appear more often in reports on intrusive issues such as welfare, that they appear more often in news items positioned later in the news bulletins, that they, largely speaking, appear more often closer to election day, but that there are almost no differences between commercial and public service broadcasting. These findings are discussed in the light of past research on media source use and the ongoing changing foundations of political communication.

Happier Working for Themselves? Job satisfaction and women freelance journalists

Brian Massey and Cindy J. Elmore

This survey analysis of women freelance journalists is a first step towards filling a gap in the largely uncharted territory of women in the U.S. who leave traditional employer-based news jobs for self-employment. The findings show that female respondents were satisfied with their work hours, earnings, and ability to combine their atypical newswork jobs with raising children. However, they were no more satisfied with their work than male respondents who also worked as freelance journalists.

“We’re just trying to have a nice time” How software like CoveritLive pushes new ideals to the professional ideology of journalism

Steen Steensen

In recent years applications like CoveritLive have diffused with great speed throughout online newsrooms. Such technologies create an interface where audience participation and journalistic reporting potentially merge into a text-production system marked by a high degree of immediacy and interactivity. This paper investigates the consequences of such practices for the professional ideology of journalism. What norms and ideals do journalists who initiate and partake in such practices adhere to? To what degree does their practice conflict with traditional ideals of journalistic reporting? The paper analyses the ‘live’ coverage of football matches in the two most popular Norwegian online newspapers, VG Nett and The findings suggest that the merger of audience participation and immediacy creates conflicts of ideals for the journalists involved, and that ideals of subjectivity and social cohesion are promoted by such practices of journalism.

Correcting the record: The impact of the digital news age on the performance of press accountability

Nicole Joseph

Contemporary journalists are, on a daily basis, adopting new work practices to remain relevant in the changing media environment. This study examines these changing practices to determine if, and how, they have been accompanied by changes in journalists’ abilities to enact traditional ethical standards in the newsroom. It posits that by examining the performance of ethics by news actors, as opposed to ethical standards themselves, the importance and impact of changing news practices can be realized and addressed. To illustrate these changes, I explore the use of news corrections as a means for maintaining journalistic accountability. The findings suggest that key attributes of the contemporary news environment, including the rapid speed with which online information is transmitted, and the increasing participation of news consumers in the media environment, can help journalists in their quests for accountability. However, other changes associated with the online news environment, such as the ease with which online information can be erased from history, and the continuous evolution of newsroom technologies, highlight the need for journalists’ ongoing pursuit of new techniques to ensure that the standard of accountability is maintained.

Crisis journalism at a crossroads? Finnish Journalists’ Reflections on Their Profession after Two School Shooting Cases

Kari Koljonen, Pentti Raittila and Jari Väliverronen

The ongoing changes in journalism in Finland have forced the profession to consider its position and practices. This need for reflection was particularly clear after the recent school shooting cases in Jokela in 2007 and in Kauhajoki in 2008 that gave rise to a public debate about journalists’ actions. Using qualitative content analysis and the idea of reflective practice as its methods, this study investigates how 45 Finnish journalists reflected on their and their profession’s work after the two cases. The study focuses on journalists’ views of journalism, about the shooters and victims and reveals a shift in journalists’ thinking from a strong deontological ethos towards a more teleological stance. It also highlights the need for further research to determine whether the change observed is a permanent one.


Political Journalism: Anthony Sampson (1926-2004) and Seymour Hersh (1937- ) David Finkelstein


Film Review: Villains of the piece
Brian McNair

Book Reviews

Notes on Contributors

Contents and Abstracts of October 2011

(Vol 5 - No 5)




Guest Editor: Martin Conboy


Anthony Delano


Introduction: How journalism uses history

Martin Conboy

A Reservoir of Understanding: Why journalism needs history as a thematic field

Horst Pöttker

The article demonstrates that history is not only a legitimate but a necessary field of reporting which is becoming more and more important for journalism if the profession is to survive the challenges to its continuance from changes caused by the digital upheaval. There are five steps in argumentation: The first reconstructs the present transformation of journalism from the news function to the orientation function and identifies history as a reservoir of potential knowledge which enables an orientation in the present. This can be done by observing the present as a contrast to the past (critical mode), by looking out for similarities between the present and the past (analogical mode) or by reconstructing the present as something which has developed from the past (genetic mode). The following paragraphs concentrate on each of these three possible modes in which journalists can connect historical material to the present and thus do justice to the rules of topicality. This is demonstrated by examples of how the NS-past is and can be treated. The fifth step asks if journalists should trust themselves to interpret historical events. Here, it should not be forgotten that the choice of facts already implies an interpretation.

Are Journalists Always Wrong: And are historians always right?

Chris Daley

This piece focuses on a seminar which is currently taught at Boston University which draws on the insights of a conference held at the same university in autumn 2009. The conference brought together leading historians and journalists to explore the ground shared by the disciplines and, it is fair to say, sometimes divides them. The article argues that there is much need for an approach which draws on the strengths of both traditions while remaining aware of the shortcomings of each discipline. Drawing on debates within the historiography of both journalism history and mainstream history it demonstrates the intellectual underpinning of the seminar which aims to point students to a wider array of the challenges, successes and reversals experienced by journalists and historians. It hopes to provide a method of investigating core questions about the journalism of the past in order to better inform the practice of journalism in the future. Furthermore, it extends this ambition to providing a collegial model for the exploration of other societies or periods of time which can be adapted at other universities.

Teaching Journalism History to Journalists

Andie Tucher

This article will be rooted in the experience of helping to develop and introduce a range of required and elective journalism-history courses into a professional school whose jam-packed one-year curriculum has always been dominated by hands-on training in the skills and techniques of the craft. Some of the challenges have been practical and logistical. We decided early on, for instance, that all assignments would involve reading or viewing works of journalism, not secondary sources, but it was harrowing to have to choose no more than three dozen or so pieces to represent three centuries’ worth of evolution. And since our limited time required us to focus mainly on journalism history in the United States, we had to decide how elaborately to explain events like the U.S. Civil War that American students had studied from the cradle but that some of our international students couldn’t date within a half-century. But the most interesting, and rewarding, aspect of these courses was watching the changes in the students’ thinking about the complexities and conundrums of their chosen profession: the achievements and also the missteps of their predecessors, the contingency of conventions and the mutability of values, the ideas what journalism is for and how it should be judged. We haven’t won all of them over yet on the need to spend some of their precious time every week on a course that won’t directly contribute to getting them a job. But we do make them think more widely about what that job means. This article charts the institutional and intellectual challenges in constructing a suitable history syllabus at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

Broadsheets, Broadcasts and Botany Bay: History in the Australian media

Bridget Griffen-Foley

The ‘Australians and the Past’ survey in the late 1990s showed that the vast majority of people gained their principal historical understanding from some form of entertainment across their lifetime. For over a century the media has been a key source in the development of Australians’ historical understanding and historical consciousness. This article explores some of the many ways history has been presented by Australian journalists and other media practitioners, focusing on the press and radio, since World War I. The article surveys the coverage of the 1938 sesquicentenary of the British settlement of Australia, history pages in Australian newspapers, and an unusual historical  newspaper published in 1948-49. It traces how the emergence of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and commercial radio during the interwar years created a new outlet for popular historians led by Frank Clune and distinguished professors such as S. H. Roberts. In doing so, it considers the role of journalism, and the media more generally, in creating a national narrative around Anzac Day; recognising indigenous dispossession; and facilitating the emergence of Australian public historians and intellectuals. 

The Presence of the Past: The uses of history in the discourses of contemporary South African journalism

Herman Wassermann

Since the demise of apartheid in South Africa, the media landscape has undergone significant shifts that impacted on journalism practice. Among the most important of these shifts was the setting up of a system of self-regulation to ensure ethical journalism in the new free democratic environment. The normative frameworks upon which this system rested, have however been highly contested, and subjected to much debate. In mounting a defence against what has been seen as ongoing attacks and threats to press freedom, journalists often invoked history to validate their normative positions and to assert their professional values and identities. This article draws on semi-structured interviews with South African journalists to explore their attitudes towards the impact of South African journalism history on current practices and professional ideologies. The aim is to establish the ways in which apartheid history is used to make meaning in post-apartheid professional debates.

Framing Revolution and Re-framing Counter Revolution: History, context and journalism in the new left-wing Latin American paradigm

Jairo Lugo-Ocando, Olga Guedes Bailey and Andres Cañizalez

The end of the 1990s marked the rise of left-wing governments in Latin America. Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil, Néstor Kirchner in Argentina, Evo Morales in Bolivia, among others, swept into power, in most cases in landslides victories at the polls, only to encounter almost immediately afterwards a forceful opposition from the mainstream and privately owned commercial news media. Evidence of this can be seen in the active role played by these news media outlets in the rapid overthrow of President Hugo Chavez in April 2002 and in the quasi-antagonistic relations between the media and the government in places such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Nicaragua. We argue that at the centre of this struggle is an appropriation of history by journalists and news editors which serves to contextualise and frame political news stories so as to provide specific meanings to current accounts and narratives. This, we argue, is in itself a crucial aspect of political power relationships during a period when the armed forces and traditional political parties no longer have the leverage they once had. This article assesses the extent to which journalists and news editors have been using history to frame the accounts and narratives in their news stories as a way of providing legitimacy to their political allies while undermining that of their foes. In so doing, it looks at specific cases in the region, while analysing news content during key events in recent years.


Film Review: Citizen Murdoch?
Brian McNair

Book Reviews

Notes on Contributors

Contents and Abstracts of June 2011

(Vol 5 - No 3)


Journalists’ Moral Judgment about Children:  Do as I say, not as I do?

Renita Coleman

This study used a controlled experiment to examine the ethical decision-making of 99 professional journalists in the United States to see if they held different attitudes, made different decisions, and used different levels of moral judgment when stories involved children than when they involved adults. It found that these journalists were significantly more concerned with protecting children’s privacy, keeping them from harm, and ensuring informed consent than they were for adults. But they did not use significantly higher levels of moral judgment for children than adults, nor did they withhold children’s photos significantly more often than adults’. The journalists in this study believed they were protecting children from harm but did not carry through with those beliefs. It is important that the news media treat children well because having children’s voices in news stories is vital to understanding their worlds and reporting on injustices against them.

Media Critique, Agonistic Respect and the (Im)possibility of a “Really Quite Pretentious” Liminal Space

Sean Phelan

This essay reflects on the blogosphere reaction to a journal article of mine about the relationship between journalists and media academics in Aotearoa New Zealand. Much of the response reenacted the original essay’s argument about journalistic antagonisms towards critical theoretical scholarship. I resituate the reaction in terms of the original essay’s objectives, and discuss the chaotic nature of these academic field/journalistic field exchanges. I argue that it would be a mistake to simply dismiss the blogosphere attacks, because that would merely reinscribe my identity in the blind antagonistic frame I had originally critiqued. Instead, revisiting aspects of the original essay that were subsequently ignored, I elaborate on the implications of William Connolly’s call for an ethos of “agonistic respect” both for the articulation of an engaged counter-response and the interrogation of political and cultural antagonisms more generally.

Media Morality and Compassion for “Faraway Others”

Ryan James Thomas

In January 2009, the BBC refused to broadcast an appeal by the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) for humanitarian relief for refugees in the Gaza region on the grounds that it would compromise BBC impartiality. This study highlights three issues raised by the decision: The blurring of the lines between news and non-news; the journalistic norm of impartiality and its utility and consequences; and the need for greater theorizing on the responsibilities that media institutions have to “faraway others.” This study uses this decision by the BBC to spur a broader epistemological critique that will seek to map out a vision for a globally-conscious and responsible media practice, spur future theorizing on matters of media ethics, globalization, humanitarianism, and the intersections within, and to call for media practice that is responsive to, and compassionate towards, the needs of people across the world, not just those within the borders within which they operate.

Structuring The Science Beat: Options for quality journalism in changing newsrooms

Jan Lublinski

Science journalism, as one specialization within journalism, has undergone remarkable changes in the past two decades; not only in content but also in the way work in the newsroom is structured. This paper takes a closer look at science beats and their organisational variance. Observational studies conducted in German newsrooms are reviewed and concepts from organisational theory are discussed. Two heuristic concepts are introduced for the analysis of journalistic work processes in newsrooms, the beat concept and the mental editorial plan. The paper then constructs four ideal types of science beats to describe possible development trends within newsrooms: the current news science beat, the creative science beat, the audience- and business-oriented science journalism team and the science beat as a specialized correspondents’ office. The latter cooperates with various other beats or departments and is engaged in dynamic topic teams. For this new work-structure, the paper argues, a high level of journalistic proficiency is demanded of science journalists to sustain and improve the quality of science journalism in changing newsrooms.

Preference, Principle and Practice: Journalistic claims for legitimacy

Morten Skovsgaard and Peter Bro

Legitimacy has become a central issue in journalism, since the under­standing of what journalism is and who journalists are has been challenged by develop­ments both within and outside the newsrooms. Nonetheless, little scho­larly work has been conducted to aid conceptu­al clarification as to how journalists justify themselves and their work. This article introduces an analytical frame­work for under­standing legi­timacy in a journalistic context. A framework based on a review of material ranging from historical accounts to research articles, and book-length studies. The framework comprises three distinct, but interconnected categories - preference, principle, and prac­tice. Through this framework, historical attempts to justify journalism and journalists are described and discus­sed in the light of the present challenges for the profession.

Chicana/O Student Journalists Map Out a Chicana/O Journalism Practice

Sonya M. Alemán

Research documenting the media under-representation of people of color indicates that unless journalists re-imagine the way they report on communities of color, those growing segments may be left without a stake in the ’public imaginary’. In this paper, I suggest that journalism educators turn their attention to Chicano/a student journalists in order to begin the process of re-envisioning newsgathering and writing in ways that more accurately depict and inform Latino/a communities. Driven by a collaboration between myself and undergraduate student producers of Sendero, a bilingual Chicano/a student publication at a western state university, this paper builds a case for why these student journalists are an important source of knowledge and inspiration for journalism educators concerned with improving mainstream coverage of diverse communities. The essay also summarizes my association with the Sendero staff in order to model how journalism educators can team up with alternative student journalists and it demarcates traits that typify their evolving Chicano/a journalism practice. 

How and Why Journalists Create Audio Slideshows: An exploratory study of multimedia adoption

Jonathan Lillie

Almost all newsroom staff now create content specifically for the Web. Only a handful of studies address aspects of multimedia news production, and no studies have focused on the increasingly popular audio slideshow format. This paper reports the results of an exploratory, qualitative survey of 38 newspaper workers who produce audio slideshows to understand better how and why journalists use them. Although videos are published by a greater percentage of newspapers than audio slideshows, the survey respondents by-and-large prefer the latter as a storytelling medium. Many reported newsroom contention regarding how video verses audio slideshows should be used and feel pressure to focus on the quantity, rather than quality, of multimedia news stories.


Film Reviews
Journalism at the Movies
Brian McNair

Book Reviews

Notes on Contributors

Contents and Abstracts of April 2011

(Vol 5 - No 2)



User-generated Content and the News: Empowerment of citizens or interactive illusion?

Anna Maria Jönsson and Henrik Örnebring

The involvement of citizens in public life through the Internet, variously described by terms such as interactivity and user-generated content, is frequently held up as a democracy-enhancing development. However, these concepts say little about the exact nature and character of media-audience relations. We wish to introduce a more detailed taxonomy of user-generated content (UGC) that takes issues of power and influence into account. We examine the media-reader relationship (in online newspapers) by looking at a) degree of participation and b) type of content. We also suggest that it might be fruitful to think in terms of a political economy of user-generated content. Our results show that users are mostly empowered to create popular culture-oriented content and personal/everyday life-oriented content rather than news/informational content. Direct user involvement in news production is minimal. There is a clear political economy of UGC: UGC provision in mainstream media to a great extent addresses users-as-consumers and is part of a context of consumption.

Legitimizing Wikipedia: How U.S. national newspapers frame and use the online encyclopedia in their coverage

Marcus Messner and Jeff South

Within only a few years, the collaborative online encyclopedia Wikipedia has become one of the most popular websites in the world. At the same time, Wikipedia has become the subject of much controversy because of inaccuracies and hoaxes found in some of its entries. Journalists, therefore, have remained skeptical about the reliability and accuracy of Wikipedia’s information, despite the fact that research has consistently shown an overall high level of accuracy compared to traditional encyclopedia. This study analyzed the framing of Wikipedia and its use as a news source by five U.S. national newspapers over an eight-year period. A content analysis of 1486 Wikipedia references in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The Christian Science Monitor found that Wikipedia is framed predominantly neutral and positive, and that it is increasingly used as a news source. By framing Wikipedia as credible and accurate, the newspapers help legitimize the use of the online encyclopedia. By allowing Wikipedia to influence their news agendas as a source, the newspapers confirm the growing reliability of Wikipedia.

Research and Reflection: Supporting journalism educators in becoming scholars

Tony Harcup

Journalism education is increasingly located within universities where much of the teaching is carried out by journalists and former journalists known as “hackademics”. Yet only a minority of journalists-turned-journalism-educators are engaging in the scholarly research typically expected of academics. Should this grouping be expected to undertake academic research into journalism and, if so, how might they be supported in becoming scholars? Such issues will be explored in this study of journalists-turned-journalism-educators in the higher education sectors of the UK and Ireland. Their experiences of, and attitudes to, academic research into journalism will be reported and analysed alongside the perspectives of journal editors and in comparison with the experiences of academics in other disciplines. Within the context of a growing literature on journalism education, the concept of reflection-upon-practice will be discussed as one with resonance not only for the graduate journalists now being turned out by universities, but for journalism educators internationally.

The Journalistic Construction of Voters in the Spanish General Election Campaign 2008

Iñaki Garcia-Blanco

This article examines the mediated construction of citizens during an electoral campaign, a political period in which citizens are normatively expected to play a fundamental role. From a social constructionist, discursive approach, this article qualitatively explores the representation of citizens in the press in the coverage of the main Spanish newspapers (El País, El Mundo, and Abc) during the campaign for the Spanish General Election of 2008. It is understood that the media’s portrayal of citizens contributes to spreading and legitimising certain discourses about citizens’, about citizens’ political behaviour, and also about the reasons behind citizens’ political attitudes and motivations. On occasions, these discourses are based on pre-electoral polls or previous research, although many rest only on inferences about the public. The newspapers put forward a reductionistic set of ambivalent discourses naturalising uninformed voting and legitimising the vote for major parties, while sympathising, at the same time, with disenchanted voters, justifying citizens’ distrust in politicians.

News Stories: An exploration of independence within post-secondary journalism

Robert E. Gutsche Jr. and Erica R. Salkin

Through focus groups with four self-described “independent” college student newspapers, this study provides a new perspective on how to view student media independence. Choices student journalists make concerning sourcing, funding, location and guidance may contribute to the newspaper’s level of independence more than how much an institution attempts to control the student media. Expressed invitations by student journalists to non-students and faculty in guiding editorial content and by using university resources to produce a newspaper, such as Internet access, relinquishes the students’ control to the university and other non-students.

Who Wants a Voice in Science Issues – And Why? A survey of European citizens and its implications for science journalism

An Nguyen and Steve McIlwaine

This paper makes a preliminary exploration of new opportunities for journalists and media to establish relevance and audiences through engagement with science issues. It looks at developments in the “democratisation” of science and, in the light of an analysis of a recent Eurobarometer survey, attempts to discover how a largely untapped active audience for the media may be attracted.

Intermedia Agenda Setting and News Discourse: A strategic responses model for a competitor’s breaking stories

Jeongsub Lim

This study proposes a model of strategic intermedia responses to a competitor’s breaking stories by integrating intermedia agenda-setting studies and news discourse studies. The model predicts three possible responses:  ignore, follow and upgrade. A content analysis of relevant stories in The New York Times, USA Today and The Washington Post reveals that the two major newspapers mostly ignore The New York Times’ breaking stories. The next most frequent responses however are to follow and upgrade. The findings support the utility of the model.


Sports Broadcasters: Howard Cosell and Harry Carpenter

David Finkelstein


Book Reviews

Notes on Contributors

Contents and Abstracts of February 2011

(Vol 5 - No 1)



“Public Editors” and Media Governance at The Guardian and The New York Times

David John Nolan and Tim Marjoribanks

This paper examines the columns of Ian Mayes, the first Readers’ Editor of The Guardian, and of Daniel Okrent, the first Public Editor of The New York Times, to provide an empirically grounded and theoretically informed analysis of the emergent role of newspaper public editors.  To do this, the paper positions the emergence of public editors as part of a wider trend towards the adoption of mechanisms of media accountability, and engages with academic literature that has positioned this trend within an emergent paradigm of “media governance”.  The empirical dimension of the paper is grounded in quantitative and qualitative analysis of columns written by Mayes and Okrent during their tenure as public editors at the two newspapers, as well as key organisational documents.  The findings of the data analysis suggest that, in the context of debates around media accountability and governance, there is a need to consider forms of governance such as public editors in the context of broader social and organisational concerns with declining trust, managing corporate risk and providing external demonstrations of legitimacy, and a renewed and targeted emphasis on journalistic professionalism.

Recounting Traumatic Secrets: Empathy and the literary journalist

Sue Joseph

The journalism industry has only recently begun to embrace reflective practice in response to trauma in journalists, but it substantially ignores empathy. This article examines six narratives of trauma subjects, conducted throughout Australia, drawing on the manuscript Speaking Secrets. Framing the subjects’ recounts as a form of advocacy journalism, particular focus is given to the role of empathy in eliciting and retelling trauma stories, and its effects on the journalist. The article argues for greater discussion of empathy as an ethical tool of journalism within the industry and academy, and a remedy to public distrust, rather than a notion regarded by most as antithetical.

Hackademics at the Chalkface: To what extent have journalism teachers also become researchers?

Tony Harcup

The field of journalism studies is growing globally, and the training of journalists is increasingly conducted within higher education institutions at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, even in countries that previously eschewed university education of journalists. Journalism studies goes beyond the training and education of journalists to encompass scholarly inquiry into journalism. Much teaching of journalism within universities is now conducted by journalists who have switched to the academy and become known as “hackademics”. This article explores the extent to which such journalists-turned-journalism-educators also contribute to a deeper understanding of journalism by engaging in scholarly research. It is based on an empirical study of 65 hackademics in the UK and Ireland, whose experiences of academic research into journalism will be discussed within the context of the international literature.

Source Credibility and Journalism: Between visceral and discretional judgment

Zvika Reich

The extent to which information sources, that stand behind virtually all the news, are perceived by journalists as credible is a key determinant of the likelihood of their obtaining news access and public voice. The nature of source credibility judgment in journalism, however, is disputed between two major schools: While the “visceral” camp contends that it is highly subjective, intuitive and biased, the “discretional” camp perceives it as a far more reasonable and legitimate journalistic tool. The present study attempts to uncover evidence of both “visceral” and “discretional” judgment by studying the conceptual credibility (trustworthiness ratings) and practical credibility (practices indicating trust or skepticism, such as cross-checking and attribution) and the congruence between the two in a sample of 840 news items based on 1,870 news sources. Findings were gleaned in face-to-face reconstruction interviews with reporters from nine leading Israeli news organizations, who reconstructed, source by source, the processes behind their items, shortly after their publication. Pro-discretional evidence shows that while journalists perceive their own experience as more credible than that of any other human agent, they do tend to stick with sources they perceive as more credible, the majority of which were relied on in the past, granting them more ready acceptance. Pro-visceral evidence, in turn, demonstrates that even the least credible sources receive substantial news space, some without any cross-checking. Furthermore, reporters ranked their sources’ credibility even when they had no former record of trustworthiness. The paper suggests interpreting the composite of these findings as discretional logic with islands of visceral judgment.

Flourishing but Restrained: Evolution of participatory journalism in Swedish online news, 2005-2009

Michael Karlsson

Research concerning user participation in online news has demonstrated that news websites offer a wide range of participatory features, but largely permit users only to comment on already-published material. This longitudinal analysis of Sweden ’s four major mainstream national news websites focuses on front-page news items to investigate to what extent user participation has increased over time and whether the participatory features present allow users to exert control over key journalistic processes. Its findings indicate that user participation has increased rapidly in regard to processes peripheral to news journalism, but also that users have to a minor extent begun over time to perform work previously reserved for professional journalists.

“Have They Got News for Us?” Audience revolution or business as usual at the BBC?

Andrew Williams, Claire Wardle and Karin Wahl-Jorgensen

The BBC elicits and uses a number of different types of audience material, but the corporation has most wholeheartedly embraced what we call Audience Content (eyewitness footage or photos, accounts of experiences, and story tip-offs). Indeed, when the term UGC is used by BBC news journalists it usually denotes only this kind of material. Audience material is often described by commentators and practitioners as having revolutionised journalism by disrupting the traditional relationships between producers and consumers of the news. In the main journalists and editors see material from the audience as just another news source, a formulation which is perpetuated by the institutional frameworks set up to elicit and process audience material as well as the content of the corporation’s UGC training.  Our data suggests that, with the exception of some marginal collaborative projects, rather than changing the way most news journalists at the BBC work, Audience Material is firmly embedded within the long-standing routines of traditional journalism practice.

Newsmaking Practices and Professionalism in Zimbabwean Press

Hayes Mawindi Mabweazara

This article examines newsmaking practices and professional cultures in the Zimbabwean press. It explores the extent to which journalists make independent professional choices in the context of organisational, occupational, and wider contextual demands that shape and promote specific newsmaking cultures. The paper argues that the country’s polarised political terrain and journalists’ struggles for economic survival in the context of a severe economic crisis have spawned practices that provide context for (re)examining the relevance of the predominant Anglo-American epistemological imperatives of journalism in Africa. Thus, while on the surface journalism practices in the Zimbabwean press typify the prevalent and somewhat universal professional normative ideals such as balance, impartiality and fairness, a deeper analysis reveals discrepancies that counter these established ideals. To this end, the claim that professional journalists subscribe to the generic normative ideals of objectivity and associated journalistic notions perhaps generalises what in fact are differentiated newsmaking cultures.


Book Reviews

Notes on Contributors