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Journalism Studies 2010: Contents and Abstracts

Contents and Abstracts of December 2010

(Vol 11 - No 6)



The NewBreed of Business Journalism for Niche Global News: The case of Bloomberg News

David Machin and Sarah Niblock

News providers such as Bloomberg's multiplatform service and innumerable business-to-business magazines are flourishing despite the hugely challenging economic climate for journalism. They are catering for a new type of global audience that demands a different editorial strategy. Rather than writing news for local markets they produce for a global professional readership.  This paper interrogates the nature of this global news style through linguistic analysis, supported by interviews with journalists. The paper raises questions about the continued efficacy of 'traditional' models of journalism practice and notions of audience.

Measuring the Impact of PR on Published News in Increasingly Fragmented News Environments: A Multifaceted Approach

Zvi Reich

As news environments become more fragmented, public relations grows more sophisticated and editorial systems weaken, the impact of PR on news becomes greater and more diverse. Its scope and intensity, however, can hardly be grasped by traditional newsroom -oriented and press release-centered approaches that try to reduce PR impact to a single bottom line. The present study proposes a multifaceted approach to studying PR impact on the news. It examines textual and oral PR-media exchanges flowing inside and outside newsrooms that reach reporters personally or through their respective newsrooms and affect published news both directly and indirectly. The study adopts an innovative method: A series of face-to-face reconstruction interviews in which reporters representing nine leading Israeli news organizations detailed, contact by contact, any type of PR involvement or contribution to a random sample of their freshly published items. PR impact was found to be richer, more complex and broader than suggested by former studies. Although reporters rarely allow practitioners to serve as single sources for their items, they often let them serve as dominant sources, constituting at least 50% of their contacts for specific items. Furthermore, practitioners lead agenda building for every other item and involve themselves in no less than 75% of items by supplying information, story leads and even dubiously “technical” services. PR is more involved in business and domestic affairs than in politics, especially in non-exclusive and less prominent items and in stories whose sources stay anonymous. Apparently both parties’ interest in disguising their exchanges overrules the public’s interest in proper disclosure to enable assessment of the information and its source credibility.

Politics of Sexting: Re-negotiating the Boundaries of Private and Public in Political Journalism

Laura Juntunen and Esa Väliverronen

Sex scandals have become a recurring feature of political journalism worldwide. This article discusses the blurring line which divides public from private in contemporary media reporting and explores the changes sweeping Finnish political journalism. The intimate life of politicians has long been a taboo subject in Finnish journalism, but this has been slowly changing since the early 2000s. This article focuses on two cases including the various sex allegations made against Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen in 2005–2009 and the text messaging scandal involving the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ilkka Kanerva in 2005 and 2008. Our argument is that scandals have the effect of softening the boundaries between different media and creating greater coherence in the media field.

No-Spin Zones: The Rise of the American Cable News Magazine and Bill O’Reilly

Chris J. Peters

Over the past decade a new breed of television journalism, what I term the cable news magazine, has risen to become the highest-rated programming on the cable news networks.  Despite their popular appeal, and arguable status as the definitive genre of cable news, such broadcasts receive scant academic attention.  This paper analyses the most prominent of these cable magazines, The O’Reilly Factor, on Fox News.  I argue that through performing belief, The Factor ‘re-makes the news’ in a manner that lowers the threshold demanded under journalism’s traditional rules of truth.  Yet surprisingly, the show also adheres to, or at least lauds, many traditional tenets of the objectivity regime.  What is novel, and what possibly accounts for its popularity, is the wilful intertwining of belief, journalistic involvement, and truth-claims in a brazen fashion; a dramatic departure from the cool style which epitomised 20th century journalism.

Chatting the News: The Democratic Discourse Qualities of Non-market and Market Politcal Talk Television

Neil Stevenson

A body of scholarship has begun to chart the influence of ‘chat’ modes of news delivery on discourse quality as part of what is termed the internal fragmentation of news: the shift from monological to dialogical modes of news delivery (Ben-Porath, 2007). This article investigates the democratic costs and benefits of political discourse contained in these ‘political talk’ news formats. It focuses on four New Zealand programmes and is structured in terms of market (commercial) and non-market performance. Discourse quality is measured quantitatively by content analysis; the results identify some important democratic trade offs that market and non-market modes of political talk make. This paper adds to international scholarship by contributing empirical data to research investigating the democratic values of public service and commercial news content; it also enables critical engagement with the issue of the internal fragmentation of news formats by providing a more nuanced account of political talk than previous criticisms.

The Reciprocity Of Journalism’s Social Contract: The Political-Philosphical Foundations Of Journalistic Ideology

Helle Sjøvaag

This article traces the political-philosophical background of journalism’s social contract metaphor. The social contract of the press finds its professional ideal in the intersection between republican and liberal philosophies originating with the classical philosophies of Rousseau, Locke and Hobbes. From these origins, the mechanism of contractual reciprocity is appropriated to the relationship between journalism and its audiences to expose hidden ideological traits within the profession. The concepts of rights and obligations found within a contractarian perspective thus offer a new way of conceptualising the role of journalism in democracy and the function of journalistic ideology. The press’ social contract ideology entails a professional world-view that establishes journalism as a separate contractual partner with a mission to sustain the democratic order as it is expressed in the original political-philosophical social contract. This theoretical investigation of the ideological link between the two contractual metaphors reveals how journalism functions according to the contractual reciprocity principle, particularly with regard to its expectations of balanced rights and obligations within the democratic order.

Foundation-Funded Journalism: Reasons to be Wary of Charitable Support

Harry Browne

This paper looks at examples of journalistic institutions that receive prior funding (as opposed to post-facto reward) from charitable foundations. It examines ProPublica in the United States (financed by the Sandler Family Supporting Foundation) , Transitions Online in eastern Europe (financed initially by the Open Society Institute) and the Centre for Public Inquiry in Ireland (closed down by its sole funder, Atlantic Philanthropies, after a government and press campaign against its executive director). Drawing on the sociological literature about foundations, it raises questions about the purposes of philanthropy, about the transparency of media that use philanthropically funded material, and about the assumption of a unitary “public interest” common to both philanthropy and to traditional journalism. It concludes that both a critical understanding of foundations themselves and a consideration of the case-studies presented should encourage wariness about philanthropic funding as an unproblematic model for the future of journalism.


Book Reviews

Notes on Contributors

Contents and Abstracts of October 2010

Foreign Correspondence Special Issue

(Vol 11 - No 5)



Foreign Correspondence

John Maxwell Hamilton and Regina Lawrence


Normalcy and Foreign News: Woodward's Law

Cleo Joffrion Allen and John Maxwell Hamilton

This longitudinal study examines what is “normal” in U.S. newspaper foreign coverage in the 20th century. A quantitative content analysis of three newspapers among the 40 examined by Woodward (1930) looked at two constructed weeks of each in 1927, 1947, 1977, and 1997. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to explain the findings related to 39,841 articles encompassing 246,301 paragraphs in 168 issues. Our findings support what we call Woodward’s Law: Putative lapses in foreign news coverage are actually the norm. Low levels of foreign news are the benchmark that should set expectations; it is the increases, which occur particularly during wars, that are exceptional. This research indicates, first, that the proportion of foreign news is relatively small in times of peace. Second, increases indicate that lamentations about the decline of foreign news during the 20th century were overstated. Third, neither absolute-item frequency nor front-page analyses provide a complete or accurate picture: Analyzing sheer numbers of foreign news articles suggests a decline while examining front-page coverage only suggests a greater supply. Our investigation, one of the most exhaustive ever, suggests a better outcome through examination of the entire news hole using both proportion and absolute-item frequency.

The (Many) Markets for International News: How News from Abroad Sells at Home

James T. Hamilton

This essay explores the economics behind changes in what types of international news reach what types of audiences in the United States. I first review the demand and supply for news from abroad, explore what has changed recently in US media markets, and then assess the likely ways that international news will be supplied in the US in the future. I also draw tentative conclusions about the implications for these media market changes for different types of US readers and viewers.

From Murrow to Mediocrity? Radio Foreign News from World War II to the Iraq War

Raluca Cozma

This content analysis compares a unique CBS radio dataset during the “golden age” of foreign correspondence (1940-1942) to National Public Radio’s (NPR’s) coverage during the Iraq War (2004-2006) to track changes in sourcing, originality, and typology of foreign news reporting on radio. Findings show that NPR outshines the golden-age performance, suggesting that we should stop taking reverential trips down memory lane when assessing broadcasting reporting and instead recognize that current reporting can be even better in keeping audiences well informed about international affairs.

Bridging Past and Future: Using History and Practice to Inform Social Scientific Study of Foreign Newsgathering

John Maxwell Hamilton and Regina Lawrence

Sourcing is a bedrock routine of American journalism, but little is known about how it may have evolved over time.  This exploratory study combines social scientific and historical methods to examine sourcing in New York Times coverage of two incidents separated by decades: The Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, and the Russian invasion of Chechnya in 1994.  We find that while official sources have long been a mainstay of American reporting abroad, reporting in the more recent case also made greater use of local eyewitnesses and media sources.  Archival research and interviews reveal the contextual factors shaping these changes.

International Television News: Germany Compared

Christian Kolmer and Holly A. Semetko

In contrast to the United States, Germany has a strong public service broadcasting system that reaches all parts of the country and is mandated to deliver news from around the world each day. We discuss the key characteristics of the German public service broadcasting system and compare the quantity of foreign affairs news in evening news programmes on the flagship public service (ARD and ZDF) and private channels (RTL and SAT.1) from 2001-2007.  We find that while the amount of foreign affairs new ebbs and flows, it remains substantial and within the range of 40% to 50% of the programmes on both the public service and the private channels.  We then compare programmes in Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, U.K., South Africa, U.S. and on transnational Arabic channels, for one year from April 2007 to April 2008, to assess what regions are covered and what predicts foreign news. Geographic proximity and national interest were shown to be important factors in explaining the regional focus of foreign news in these countries and outlets.

The Morality Play: Getting to the Heart of Media Influence on Foreign Policy

Derek Miller

One of the core questions in the research programme on media-government relations — with implications for democratic theory, journalism, governance, and international relations generally — is how the media can be influential. I argue here that the government (deliberately) and the media (as a function of their communicative acts) are involved in a never-ending conversation with moral implications that affect a government’s capacity to lead or act. This theory is validated through empirical research, is falsifiable, and has explanatory force. It also supports or otherwise does not contradict key theories in political science about media-government relations including the rally-around-the-flag effect and the honeymoon period for new Presidents. By contrast, the theory does take the research agenda away from the complexities of causality and the seeming importance of public opinion in that dynamic, while taking the field towards the study of communicative force in both inter-personal and inter-institutional relations.

Transnational Journalism, Public Diplomacy, and Virtual States

Philip Seib

As a public diplomacy tool, transnational journalism (principally broadcasting) has long had appeal to governments.  It is a relatively efficient and inexpensive way to reach potentially vast audiences throughout the world with messages that presumably possess added credibility when wrapped in the trappings of journalism.  Non-state actors, including media organizations themselves, may conduct their own versions of public diplomacy.  New communication technologies have led to an expanded number of players in this field and to an even larger audience, which has gradually become more sophisticated and less credulous.  Broadcasters are no longer just broadcasters.  The most creative among them use Internet-based media to enhance their reach and influence.  For purveyors of public diplomacy to earn and maintain the trust of the publics they seek to reach requires an adherence to established principles of journalism, more specifically those of foreign correspondence.  If this occurs, a new genre of international reporting may take shape and help compensate for the diminished amount of traditional reporting from abroad.

Networks and the Future of Foreign Affairs Reporting

Steven Livingston and Gregory Asmolov

The future of foreign reporting is affected by more than the economic crisis gripping the Western news industry, though that too is important.  We argue that overseas bureaus and foreign correspondents are tied to a particular morphology of global governance, one rooted in a system of nation-states. The nation-state is the product of a particular information technology that emerged in the 18th century, flourished in the 20th, and is undergoing significant change in the 21st.  The nation-state emerged from the convergence of a new system of production and a new information technology: newspapers and books.  Historically, foreign corresponding has been constituted by a mostly symbiotic relationship among institutions of nation-states and media institutions. Drawing on recent international relations theory, we argue that a second sort of imagined community has emerged.  It is organized according to non-spatial relationships among nodes in electronically enabled networks and is characterized by information abundance.  Conversely, traditional foreign corresponding is characterized by the central spatial nature of its purpose (foreign corresponding) and by the norms and routines that have defined its relation to hierarchically organized state bureaucracies. We offer three case studies to illustrate our argument.

Looking Forward: The Future of Foreign Correspondence Serge Schmemann

Serge Schmemann


Book Reviews

Notes on Contributors

Contents and Abstracts of August 2010

The Future of Journalism Special issue

(Vol 11 - No 4)



Jay G. Blumler


Bob Franklin


The Future of Journalism

James Curran


The Past Is Prologue, Or: How 19th century journalism might just save 21st century newspapers

Debbie Reddin Van Tuyll

The death of the American newspaper has been predicted for years now, and reasons offered to explain its demise are legion, ranging from the simple (the economy) to the self-effacing (journalistic narcissism). Some suggest the biggest problem is the lack of a viable business model, and to some extent they have a point. Metropolitan dailies, “the elite press,” are having particular difficulty finding readers willing to pay for their content. This does not mean, however, that American journalism is on its way to extinction. It is possible to preserve the newspaper industry by looking to earlier forms of journalism, in the partisan press that dominated American journalism through the 19th century. In fact, some newspapers have already taken unwitting steps in this direction, and this paper will point to other practices that could also contribute to the preservation of American newspapers.

Labour, New Media and the Institutional Restructuring of Journalism

James R. Compton and Paul Benedetti

Thousands of news workers were laid off in the UK and North America in 2008-2009. While daily newspapers were particularly affected, labour cuts also hit broadcasters and news magazines. Popular commentary has often attempted to explain the cuts as a result of Internet competition, aging audiences for news and a slumping global economy. Optimists suggest the rise of new media practices such as blogging and citizen journalism have, despite the contraction of newsrooms, expanded the range of information and opinion available to citizens. This paper is an attempt to clarify what is an unquestionably chaotic moment in journalism. Our focus is the labour of reporting – the quotidian work of gathering information of public interest and packaging it into a story. The paper uses Pierre Bourdieu’s field theory to contextualize the use of new media technologies by amateur and professional journalists in an attempt to understand the power relations that inform the work of reporting. We argue that labour rationalization in combination with the use of new technologies, shrinking audiences, 24-hour news cycles, and intensified hyper-commercialization is fundamentally reorganizing the division of labour in newsrooms. Importantly, we argue there is little empirical evidence to suggest that unpaid citizen journalists will replace the lost labour of reporting – the work of collecting information, synthesizing it and presenting it for public consumption via storytelling.

From ‘We’ to ‘Me’: The changing construction of popular tabloid journalism

Martin Conboy and John Steel

In 1886, in ‘The Future of Journalism’, W.T. Stead expressed the view that it was the ‘personal touch’ in newspapers that would transcend the vapidity of a hypothesised ‘we’. Nevertheless, it was to be the ability of newspapers, exploiting his own pioneering take on the New Journalism, to articulate a plausible version of a collective voice which was to dominate the journalism of the mass market of the twentieth century. A refinement of the language of this collective articulation of the interests and tastes of a mass readership comes in the popular tabloid newspapers of the period following WWII and reaches its most self-consciously vernacular expression in the Sun from the 1980s onwards. However, when comparing the print version of the contemporary Sun with its on-line version, we might expect to witness a radical departure from traditional notions of the popular predicated on an appeal to a relatively homogenous collective readership and a move to a more atomised, self-assembling notion of the on-line reader. The ‘personalized’ touch of this form of journalism is very different from that envisaged by Stead but by exploring the ways in which a theme which he considered central to journalism’s mission (its address to an audience) is adapting to an online environment, we may be able to reconsider the changing definition and function of the ‘popular’. In doing so, it may allow us to reflect upon the implications of a move from ‘we’ to ‘me’ in the articulation of audience in the online version of the Sun.

Rethinking [Again] the Future of Journalism Education

Donica Mensing

For many of the previous 100 years the role of a journalist was to find information, shape it into an accurate story and transmit it as quickly as possible to a mass audience via a mass medium. Today, information is no longer scarce, breaking news is no longer the province of professional journalists, mass media are declining in influence and news is easily personalized. Like many news organizations, journalism education programs are distinctly unprepared to respond to such deeply structural changes in the environment. Preliminary research indicates that the response to date has been primarily to expand technology training and reorient sequence and media emphasis tracks. The present study recommends a realignment of journalism education from an industry-centered model to a community-centered model as one way to re-engage journalism education in a more productive and vital role in the future of journalism. A community-centered focus could provide a way to conceptualize a reconstitution of journalism education to match that taking place in journalism beyond the university. Three examples from current journalism programs illustrate the implications of this analysis and provide an indication of future directions for realignment.

The Shifting Cross-Media News Landscape: Challenges for news producers

Kim Schrøder and Bent Steeg Larson

The article offers new insights for democracy and for news producers by mapping the use and users of today’s cross-media news landscape, as the everyday consumption of news across the range of available news media and formats is shifting reflecting transformations of technology, culture and lifestyles. Theoretically the study is anchored in Habermas’s notion of the public sphere, and its recent reconceptualizations in theories of ‘cultural citizenship’, 'civic agency' and 'public connection'. The project operationalizes these theories through the concept of users' perceived “worthwhileness” of news media, a user-anchored concept which incorporates the different functionalities of the situational cross-media use of news by citizen/consumers in everyday life. Empirically the article presents the findings of a large-scale survey that traces the imminent challenges facing players in the news market, as a consequence of accelerating divisions between 'overview' and 'depth' news media (across print, broadcasting and the internet). The project is conducted in a partnership of university-based researchers and analysts from one of the major newspaper publishers in Denmark, and presents the first user-based analysis of the relative position of each individual news medium in the entire news media matrix.

Rituals of Transparency: Evaluating online news outlets’ uses of transparency rituals in the US, UK and Sweden

Michael Karlsson

Transparency has been suggested as a new norm in journalism. However few studies have investigated how the overarching notion of transparency is utilized in everyday news. The purpose of this study is to identify and compare how leading mainstream online news media in the US, UK and Sweden make use of transparency techniques in news items. The results show that transparency has begun to effect online news but that current journalism practice is a long way from a fully-fledged transparency norm.

Journalism In Second Life

Bonnie Brennan and Erika dela Cerna

Our research seeks to understand the emerging journalism practiced in Second Life – a computer-generated alternative reality. Framed by postmodernism, this study uses an ideological analysis to evaluate the three Second Life newspapers: the Alphaville Herald, the Metaverse Messenger and the Second Life Newspaper. We suggest that journalism in Second Life focuses on community building and education, considers the influence of the on-line world to resident members’ off-line lives and raises important questions about freedom of expression.

The Form of Reports on U.S. Newspaper Internet Sites: An update

Kevin Barnhurst

A previous study found that U.S. newspaper electronic editions did not appear to reinvent themselves. In 2001, the web versions reproduced the substance of print editions so as to relate similarly to readers. A replication of the study shows that by 2005 the online editions were changing, especially in the form of news. For readers, the laborious process involved in using the Internet editions in 2001 had changed, but many clicks and scrolls had shifted from mapping the content to managing reading. Multiple screens for each story exposed readers to more ads. Some interactive elements became standard, such as reader-produced comments and links to archives. But individualized hyperlinks to resources from other agencies or providers were rare, keeping traffic inside the site. The Internet versions were still visually meager compared to print, which has more typographical range and many more graphics and pictures. The study results suggest that print publishers have moved only tentatively into the new technology, continuing a long history as slow adopters of innovation and new techniques for informing the public. Their primary drive has been to serve the needs for revenue, not to provide for the comfort and information of citizens.

The Gradual Disappearance of Foreign News on German Television: Is there a future for global, international, world or foreign news?

Klaus-Dieter Altmeppen

Television news (especially foreign news) is under constant threat of being replaced by live sporting events or film award ceremonies, as hard news is increasingly substituted by soft news, infotainment, or popular journalism. These developments are indicators of structural forces acting to change the nature of television and journalism in Germany. However, the current media crisis has revealed that these forces are indicative of changing structures globally that are leading to a gradual disappearance of foreign news from TV channels. This paper aims to establish a theoretical setting that describes the structural characteristics of this disappearance of foreign news and its relevant mechanisms. Accordingly, this paper outlines a theoretical model for analysing the mechanisms of economization (where economic factors rather than editorial standards drive news reporting), based on differentiation between the media organisation and newsrooms as the prominent organisational expression of journalism. The differentiation is based on the different functions and performances of media organisations and newsrooms. The (metaphorical) assumption is that journalism sells the news to media organisations, while they pay for the news (via resources), one reason for the disappearance of foreign news stems from the changing rules of the business of the media.

The Future of Newsmagazines

Carla Rodrigues Cardoso

More than 80 years ago, Time magazine was launched in the United States, heralding the birth of a new journalistic genre. Since then, countless newsmagazines have appeared around the world. What are the elements that contribute towards the success of this journalistic genre today? And what are the perspectives for the future of newsmagazines? This study analyses 26 issues of six newsmagazines – Time (4 copies), Newsweek (4), L’Express (5) Le Nouvel Observateur (5), Sábado (4) and Visão (4) during January 2009. The focus of the study is on the covers (cover lines, images, design) and the subjects that each magazine chooses for the front page. The objective is to cross-reference the data gathered using content analysis with the results of a previous study of newsmagazines in 1999. Comparing the reality of ten years ago with newsmagazines today facilitates understanding of the differences between this genre and others, as well as the ways in which newsmagazines are adapting to the advances of digital journalism. It will also assist in understanding whether it is really possible to talk about a “newsmagazine genre”, based on the differences and similarities found within the selected corpus.

Journalistic Elites In Post-Communist Romania: From heroes of the revolution to media moguls

Mihai Coman

In the 20 years since the fall of communism, the professional field of journalism has been increasingly carved up by press barons on the one hand and the majority of ordinary journalists on the other. The euphoric attitude and the solidarity that marked the very beginnings of a free press slowly faded away. They were replaced by the fight to achieve and maintain control over the resources offered by mass media: economic status, political power and social prestige. In fact, one group has monopolized the economic resources, the access to centres of political decision-making and the channels of distribution of professionally legitimating discourse. This study examines the mechanisms used by a group of journalists to achieve economic and professional control. In other words, the study shows how star journalists became media moguls.

News from and in the ‘Dark Continent’: Afro-pessimism, news flows, global journalism and media regimes

Arnold S. deBeer

The concepts news flow, global journalism/news and media regime are under theoretical construction. News media content is becoming increasingly deterritorialised, involving complex relations and flows across national borders and continents. Consequently, it becomes more difficult to categorise news in the traditional binary context as either national or international news as was the case with news flow studies since the mid-1990s. These changes are perhaps most evident in centres outside the global North, where rapid development of media infrastructures, coupled with political and social shifts as a result of widespread democratisation since the mid-1990s, have brought about complex configurations of the local/global relationship in news. Global journalism/news is suggested as an alternative concept and the notion of media regimes is introduced as a way to interrogate assumptions about global news flows as it relate to Africa. A content analysis of TV news channels in three world regions was conducted to facilitate the analysis.

The Journalism ‘Crisis’: Is Australia immune or just ahead of its time?

Sally Young

Australia is facing many of the same trends in journalism that are occurring in other countries with mature media industries including declining numbers of journalists, fragmenting audiences, a loss of advertising revenue for media organisations and other challenges to their traditional business models including shifting patterns of news consumption, new competitors for old media and new technologies that demand more time from audiences. However, Australia is also in a unique position. It has a small population and unusually concentrated media ownership; recent newspaper circulation declines have not been as large as in the US or UK; and Australia’s major media organisations have ‘colonised the web’ to a larger degree than in many other countries. This has led to suggestions that Australian journalism will be immune from many of the most damaging international trends. Yet other evidence suggests Australia is already in the midst of an economic and professional crisis in newspaper journalism and that this is even more advanced than in other countries such as the US and UK. This paper tests these competing propositions.


Book Reviews

Notes on Contributors

Contents and Abstracts of June 2010

(Vol 11 - No 3)



The Patriotic Good Mother Of World War II: A Study Of A Cultural Ideal

Ana C. Garner and Karen Slattery

The archetypal good mother and the archetypal patriotic mother are important symbols in American culture. Both are rooted in maternal work but are separated by two conflicting assumptions. The good mother nurtures her children and protects them from harm, while the patriotic wartime mother remains silent when the government sends her child directly into harm’s way.  This study explores how the World War II press positioned mothers of soldiers to sacrifice their children in support of the nation’s war effort. The findings point to the importance of understanding the role of archetypes in news narratives.

Deeper than the Fictional Model: Structural origins of literary journalism in Greek mythology and drama

Charles Marsh

The critical perception that literary journalism owes the concept of plot to prose fiction has nurtured enduring allegations of generic inferiority. This study proposes an earlier provenance, tracing the structure of literary journalism to Greek tragic drama. In ancient Greece, the adaptation of mythology-as-history from oral tradition to drama necessitated structural changes, a process called “displacement” by Northrop Frye. The first critic of mythology’s displacement into drama was Aristotle, who identified eight essential conventions of plot. This study documents the inherency of those eight conventions within modern nonfiction narratives and concludes that, far from being derivative and inferior, literary journalism returns to the origins of literature by displacing fact into art. Like the first literary myths, therefore, modern nonfiction narratives may be revelations of important cultural standards and beliefs.

Resurrecting the 1938 St Louis Post-Dispatch Symposium on the Freedom of the Press: Examining its contributions and their implications for today

Nikki Usher

In 1938, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch convened a symposium on the freedom of the press in response to a letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The President hoped to have a “national symposium” to discuss whether a free press could truly exist in a for-profit media system. The Symposium on the Freedom of the Press brought together 120 public intellectuals to discuss the matter. Here, I attempt to reacquaint scholars with this forgotten collection of contributions on the subject. I specifically focus my analysis on two major themes: the way contributors define public interest and their response to Roosevelt’s question as to whether a newspaper could only be edited in the interests of the “counting room,” as he put it.

Democratizing Journalism? Realizing the citizen's agenda for local news media

Irene Costera Meijer

Media scholars and journalists expect local media to function as vital institutions for the creation and maintenance of a democratic political and public arena and a general sense of social cohesion and public connection (Aldridge, 2007; Couldry et al. 2007; Franklin, 2006; Rosenstiel et al. 2007). Taking a different angle, this paper tries to understand what kind of social role the audience wants their local media to perform.

The material presented here relies on audience research and ethnographic investigation of the largest local TV broadcaster in Amsterdam (AT5), as well as on a basic production study of 17 local broadcasters in Rotterdam. It turns out that city residents of Amsterdam expect their local TV station to perform seven social functions: (1) supplying background information (unbiased, reliable, good-humoured, fast and multi-perspectival); (2) fostering social integration, or giving citizens insight into how the city “works”; (3) providing inspiration; (4) ensuring representation (“voice”, recognition and “mirroring”); (5) increasing local understanding; (6) creating civic memory; and (7) contributing to social cohesion, or a sense of belonging. We argue that local media do not only constitute a precondition for democracy by representing the city to its residents; to meet this standard, local TV broadcasters will also have to become more democratic themselves, in the sense of better representing local residents to the city and each other by supplying more nuanced stories about them.

Seeking Safe Ground: Russian regional journalists’ withdrawal from civic service journalism

Elina Erzikova and Wilson Lowrey

This paper adopts a system of professions perspective from the sociology of work to assess efforts by Russian regional journalists to redefine the purposes and standards of journalism in an increasingly constraining political and economic environment. Data from interviews and observations at four newspapers in a central Russian province reveal that journalists at these papers have responded to pressures in varied ways, suggesting fragmentation in the occupation. Journalists who came of age during perestroika now avoid public issue reporting, but they seek to maintain jurisdiction over journalistic work by serving as ‘in-house communicators’ for officials, by advising readers on everyday individual needs, and by focusing on literary writing or moral education.

Sustaining Hyperlocal Media: In search of funding models

David D. Kurpius, Emily T. Metzgar and Karen M. Rowley

As traditional media operations struggle to find their footing in a world of rapidly evolving interactive technology and economic turmoil, media innovators are exploring new ways to identify, collect, and disseminate information. One innovation that is attracting attention is the development of hyperlocal media.

Hyperlocal media are characterized by their narrow focus on a handful of topics or geographic areas, but they vary widely in the type and reliability of funding that supports their operations; the training, expertise, and size of their staffs; and their ability to attract an audience. They also follow in a long line of media reform efforts that have tried to fill the gap in public affairs coverage left by the shrinking traditional media, including civic journalism, C-SPAN, and statewide public affairs television networks. And like these earlier reform efforts, hyperlocal media operations face the same dilemma — how to create a sustainable funding model that will allow them to provide the information members of the public need. This paper examines the various funding models used by hyperlocal media operations and assesses whether they are sustainable for the long term.

A View that’s Fit to Print: The national association of manufacturers’ free enterprise rhetoric as integration propaganda in The New York Times, 1937-1939

Burton St. John III

This study examines the appearance of National Association of Manufacturers’ propaganda, from 1937 to 1939, in articles within The New York Times. NAM’s ability to place such rhetoric in The Times reveals both the presence of integration propaganda and the beginning of a press acclimation to propaganda as news. This examination reveals a crystallizing of professional journalism’s reliance on authoritative, yet propagandistic sources, a dynamic that persists to this day.

A Partial Europe without Citizens or EU-Level Political Institutions: How far can Euronews constitute a European public sphere?

Iñaki Garcia-Blanco and Stephen Cushion

Euronews is a multilingual television news channel broadcast in eight languages with a remit to cover news and current affairs from a ‘European perspective’. Launched in 1993, the channel was set up to unite linguistic and cultural differences amongst European citizens and help towards shaping a more inclusive European identity. This article asks – seventeen years since it began life – in what ways does Euronews reflect European perspectives? Drawing on a content analysis of Euronews’ English language news coverage supplemented with a brief schedule analysis of its routine content, we look, in detail, at Euronews’ journalistic practices and reflect upon the democratic implications for Europe and its key democratic institutions.

We argue that Euronews’ journalistic practices (no anchors, reporters on location, scarce interviews or other typical news conventions) provide a set of journalistic constraints that weakens its editorial control and autonomy, resulting in repackaged news that is primarily national rather than supranational in focus. This, we argue, works against the possibility of fostering a shared European news agenda likely to invigorate public debate or civic engagement on EU level matters. Euronews’ potential to constitute a common European public sphere is, we conclude, difficult to imagine when its citizens or key political institutions are so marginalised in its news coverage.

Blogging from the Niches: The sourcing practices of science bloggers

Gina Walejko and Thomas Ksiazek

Digital media lower barriers to entry and offer a “long tail” of specialized subject matter, providing scientist bloggers with the ability to challenge traditional science news norms, thereby overcoming challenges associated with sourcing practices in science journalism. This study analyzes the sources of 41 science bloggers that discussed two different topics, global warming and intelligent design, between 2004 and 2007. The 3576 sources in these 300 posts are hand-coded by type of web site. Results indicate that science bloggers often link to blogs and the online articles of traditional news media, similar to political bloggers writing about the same topics. Science bloggers also link heavily to academic and non-profit sources, differing from political bloggers in this study as well as previous research. In conclusion science bloggers writing about science topics rely on conventional blog linking practices while expanding those voices which get heard online, adding complexity to online science news.


Book Reviews

Notes on Contributors

Contents and Abstracts of April 2010

(Vol 11 - No 2)



The Patriotic Good Mother Of World War II: A Study Of A Cultural Ideal

Ana C. Garner and Karen Slattery

The archetypal good mother and the archetypal patriotic mother are important symbols in American culture. Both are rooted in maternal work but are separated by two conflicting assumptions. The good mother nurtures her children and protects them from harm, while the patriotic wartime mother remains silent when the government sends her child directly into harm’s way.  This study explores how the World War II press positioned mothers of soldiers to sacrifice their children in support of the nation’s war effort. The findings point to the importance of understanding the role of archetypes in news narratives.

What Are Financial Journalists For?

Damian Tambini

In order to understand why so little media attention was paid to risks in the banking sector in the run up to the financial crisis, we need to understand the framework of law, regulation, self regulation and professional incentives that structure the practice of financial and business journalism. This paper focuses in particular on what role financial journalists play in the system of corporate governance, the ways in which law and regulation recognize that role, and the extent to which this role is accepted and understood by financial journalists themselves.

The first part of the essay reviews recent debate on financial journalism and investigates the role of financial journalism from a systemic perspective: looking at its role in corporate governance, and its impact on market behaviour. I develop the notion that financial and business journalists operate within a framework of rights and duties which institutionalize a particular ethical approach to their role. The second half of the article, which draws more extensively on interviews conducted with journalists and editors, asks how journalists themselves understand and describe their role and what they see as the key challenges they face as they attempt to perform it. It emerges that there is no consensus among financial and business journalists about their ‘watchdog’ role in relation to markets and corporate behaviour, and whilst the financial journalists interviewed tended to agree on the key challenges they face, they are uncertain how to respond to them.

Reciprocal Journalism: Breakfast News, Sunrise And The “Televisual Sphere”

Stephen Harrington

This paper examines the Australian breakfast news program Sunrise. By drawing on interviews with both viewers and producers, as well as selected textual analysis, it examines the show, how it is “used” as a news source, and explores its role within the audience’s morning routines. By viewing the show as a part of what Baym has termed the “Televisual Sphere”, it will argue against the common discourse that the program has simply followed a populist style in pursuit of higher ratings. Because of its success in communicating and connecting with viewers, it may be more constructive to consider Sunrise a very effective form of journalism which has been at the forefront of the recent trend towards increased levels of viewer input in television journalism.

“Between Language Support And Activism: A Complementary Journalism Function Among European Minority Language Newspeople”

Iñaki Zabaleta, Nicolás Xamardo, Arantza Gutierrez, Santi Urrutia, Itxaso Fernandez And Carme Ferré

This article outlines the extent to which journalists working in European minority-language media believe that their journalistic role within the community is strictly professional or alternatively should incorporate a complementary function as language supporters or activists. A weighted and reasonably representative survey of 230 journalists from 10 European minority-language communities (Basque, Catalan, Galician, Corsican, Breton, Frisian, Irish, Welsh, Scottish-Gaelic, and Sámi) indicates that journalists favour a journalistic professional activity which incorporates a role as language backing actors. This may underlie the idea of a contextual approach to the concept of journalism.

A Study Of The New York Times Coverage Of Darfur, July 2003 – 2006

Ammina Kothari

This multi-method study examines how the New York Times reported the Darfur conflict in the Sudan, which has led to an estimated 300,000 deaths and over 2.3 million people displaced by the fighting. Drawing on normative media theories and prior studies of Africa's representation, the role of sources in the frame-building process was analyzed, together with the impact of news-making processes on journalists’ reporting about Darfur. The textual analysis largely supports results of prior studies on news framing of Africa. However, interviews with four New York Times journalists reveal that the individual biases and motives of the journalists and their sources significantly influenced the coverage. While the journalists participated in news-making processes distinguishable by journalist goal, source availability, and source credibility, their sources also provided information that reinforced certain media frames.

Don’t You Forget About Me: An Exploration Of The “Maddie Phenomenon” On Youtube

Julia Kennedy

In June 2008 the search term “Madeleine McCann” generated around 3,700 videos on YouTube, attracting over seven million text responses. This research project used generic analysis to allocate videos to categories according to their content. Using critical discourse analysis, the nature of the comments posted in response to the videos was then assessed.  Both methods were deployed to explore three broad research questions.

First, what kind of content were people uploading to YouTube in response to the case? Second, where did YouTube users position themselves in relation to the dominant discourses of the news media in this case? Third, previous work demonstrates evidence of “collective expressiveness, emotionality, and identity” (Greer, 2004) in virtual communities structured around cases of child murder in the UK: to what extent were these characteristics of imagined community evident in responses to videos? Results demonstrate that YouTube provides a forum for a broad range of responses to the case, both accommodating and expanding on dominant mainstream discourses. Evidence of distinct imagined communities forming around particular responses to the case demonstrate nuanced and complex patterns of responses to mediated crime through YouTube, as technology erodes the traditional boundaries between producers and consumers of crime news.

UGC And Gatekeeping At The BBC

Jackie Harrison

This is an observational study of the way the BBC deals with UGC at its UGC hub. It finds four types of UGC. First a form of unsolicited news story: second a form of solicited content for specific extant news stories; third a form of expeditious content for specific items and features and fourth a form of audience watchdog content. The study also finds that UGC is routinely moderated by the BBC hub and that traditional gatekeeping barriers have evolved over time to ensure the maintenance of core BBC news values. The study concludes with the view that the extensive use of UGC at the BBC hub encourages the increasing use of “soft journalism”, with as yet unknown consequences for the BBC.

Salazar’s Interference In The BBC Portuguese Service During World War II

Nelson Ribeiro

This article presents a case study on the limits of the BBC Overseas Service’s journalistic independence during World War II. Not only editorial policy but also the personnel hired by the BBC Portuguese Service were subject to pressure from Salazar through the Foreign Office. How the Lisbon government was made aware of the events taking place inside the Portuguese Service and which strategies were used to interfere in its editorial line are discussed. This history presents clear evidence of how the BBC was required to trim its output in order to avoid diplomatic problems arising between the British and the Portuguese governments.


The Scorecard on Reporting of the Global Financial Crisis

Maria B. Marron; Zeny Sarabia-Panol and Marianne D. Sison; Sandhya Rao and Ray Niekamp


Book Reviews

Notes on Contributors

Contents and Abstracts of February 2010

(Vol 11 - No 1)


Theory Review - Call for Papers


Freezing the Flow of Online News: Exploring approaches to study the liquidity of online news

Michael Karlsson & Jesper Strömbäck

According to previous research, two characteristics of online news as opposed to traditional news are interactivity and immediacy. However, most research in this area has focused on the news site-level of analysis, and there are only few studies on how interactivity and immediacy affect online news on the news story-level of analysis. The main reason for this appears to be that the very nature of online news makes observation by traditional research methods, such as quantitative content analysis, problematic. Against this background, the overall purpose of this paper is to explore methodological approaches for the study of interactivity and immediacy on the news story-level of online news.

The paper develops a three-pronged strategy for freezing the flow of online news to enable systematic content analyses of interactivity and immediacy, and tests this strategy in a comparative analysis of the online news sites in Britain and in Sweden.

Interviews as Communicative Resources in News and Current Affairs Broadcasts

Åsa Kroon & Göran Eriksson

This study quantitatively establishes the centrality and importance of interviews in news and current affairs broadcasts. We show how segments of interviews (from soundbites to longer recorded, or live, question-and-answer interactions) are deployed as communicative resources in the construction and presentation of news in various ways. The data allow for a cross-national comparison in between the UK and Sweden which points to differences in practice between the countries.

We argue that our findings may be used critically to examine various conceptualisations of broadcast interviews in general and political interviews in particular. We also show how journalists outnumber politicians as interviewees in the news, a finding that is in need of further exploration from a range of perspectives. We also believe that our study provides solid ground on which to base future critical studies of the authority of journalism, dialogical and soundbite journalism, and the alleged fragmentisation of news.

Chain Reactions in the Newsroom: Factors affecting journalistic action

Peter Bro

Public journalism has been termed the best-organized movement in the history of American press, but the movement has implications for news reporters – and researchers - stretching far beyond a re¬stric¬ted peri¬od in time and a limited spatial context. The formation of the movement has, namely, accentuated universal aspects of journalistic practice that in various ways can affect the actions of news re¬por¬ters. In this sense, the popularization of public journalism serves as a critical incident, which offers news reporters and researchers a new framework for understanding journalism. This framework consists of six distinct, but interconnected factors that affect journalistic actions, and when connected in what in this context is termed the news chain, they essentially help news reporters and researchers gain a better understanding of the problems and potentials that confront contemporary journalism.

Travel Journalism and Environmental Conflict: A cosmopolitan perspective

Lyn McGaurr

Although travel journalism can have considerable influence in one of the world’s largest marketplaces, a definition remains elusive and the genre continues to be under explored. The explanation may be a scholarly ambivalence towards the use of the word “journalism” to describe texts characterised by subjectivity and a conspicuous proximity to tourism advertising. Yet not all travel journalism is tourism’s handmaiden. Drawing on examples of US and British newspaper and magazine travel articles that criticize forestry practices in Australia’s island state of Tasmania, this paper attempts to understand better the genesis and deployment of political comment in a genre routinely subsidized and besieged by government public relations.

The paper argues that travel journalism that subverts traditional expectations of the genre through its mediation of environmental conflict can usefully be understood as a textual manifestation of the cosmopolitan interplay of culture and environment arising out of transnational and cross-genre discourse. Noting Ulrich Beck’s faith in the media to promote active political cosmopolitanism, the paper hypothesizes that further analysis of travel journalism has the potential to provide surprising insights into journalism, public relations and the mediation of global concern.

The Dimensions of Travel Journalism: Exploring new fields for journalism research beyond the news

Folker Hanusch

Much of the existing empirical research on journalism focuses largely on hard-news journalism, at the expense of its less traditional forms, particularly the soft-news areas of lifestyle and entertainment journalism. In focussing on one particular area of lifestyle journalism – the reporting of travel stories – this paper argues for renewed scholarly efforts in this increasingly important field. Travel journalism’s location at the intersection between information and entertainment, journalism and advertising, as well as its increasingly significant role in the representation of foreign cultures makes it a significant site for scholarly research.

By reviewing existing research about travel journalism and examining in detail the special exigencies that constrain it, the article proposes a number of dimensions for future research into the production practices of travel journalism. These dimensions include travel journalism’s role in mediating foreign cultures, its market orientation, motivational aspects and its ethical standards.

Journalism Education ‘Down Under’: A tale of two paradigms

Martin Hirst

Journalism studies is currently undergoing one of the periodic renovations that is characteristic of an active and diverse community of scholars. This paper examines aspects of this renewal debate among journalism scholars by focussing on the situation in Australia and New Zealand. It argues that the debate ‘Down Under’ mirrors global differences on the issues of “theory” and “practice” in journalism education and that an understanding of the key fault lines in this context can provide useful insights into the wider arguments. In Australia and New Zealand a key area of discussion is around attitudes towards the concept of professionalism in the practice, training and scholarship of journalism. These tensions are apparent in both the news media and in the academy. The contradictory positions of those who favour greater industry involvement in curriculum matters, including accreditation of courses, and those who are less sanguine about the normative influence of industry on critical scholarship are explored in relation to differing attitudes to professionalism and the political economy of news production.

The paper concludes that rather than pegging the debate to an unstable definition of professionalism, journalism educators should instead focus more on journalism scholarship founded on a political economy approach.

Australian Journalism and War: Professional discourse and the legitimation the 2003 Iraq invasion

Giles Dodson

This paper presents an original study of Australian journalistic professionalism as observed during the Iraq invasion, 2003. Through an analysis of both in-depth interviews conducted with Australian journalists reporting from Iraq and news discourse produced by Australian journalists at Central Command and ‘embedded’, it is argued that professionalism provides the normative framework used by war journalists to produce accounts and make sense of war. In this sense professionalism serves as a ‘regime of truth’, which bounds the journalistic possibilities in reporting war and restrains the capacity of journalists to provide critical or reflexive examinations of military operations or media-military relations.

Drawing on interview and news-report material the paper demonstrates that the professional discourse furthermore serves to justify and legitimate at times problematic journalistic practice and meaning construction, tending to obscure the functional role played by journalism within contemporary war administration and military strategy. Elaborating the concept of the professional ideology I argue that professionalism operates as a form of ideological fantasy, which overlooks the always already ideological nature of discourses. Professionalism here both militarises journalism and conversely journalises the military, while limiting war correspondents awareness of this problematic aspect of their central legitimating ethos.

Construction of the Truth and Destruction of A Million Little Pieces: Framing in the editorial response to the James Frey Case

Nicole Smith Dahmen

A recent case in the United States has called into question the value that we, societally speaking, place on truth. This research attempts to understand how an audience of reasonable persons—opinion and editorial writers—reacted to and subsequently framed truth in the James Frey case. The editorial pages provide a place with which to begin public discussion of key issues, whether political, social, or moral. The qualitative, framing analysis examines editorials and opinion pieces with the purpose of providing an understanding of the news frame surrounding “truth.”

Findings indicate that editorial and opinion writers strongly supported truth as a bedrock for a functional society. However, while editorial and opinion writers clearly acknowledged the contributions of other societal institutions to ushering in the “Age of Truthiness,” they were negligent in considering the contributions of their own institution.


Book Reviews
Notes on Contributors