The Future of Journalism: Developments and debates
Farewell to Journalism? Time for a rethinking
Robert W. McChesney
This paper contends that to understand how audiences engage with journalism in the contemporary age, we must conceive of news consumption not just as something we do, but as something we do in a particular place. It considers the experience(s) of consuming journalism, and reflects upon the influence ‘space’ has in this equation. I ask how news consumption is integrated into, and shapes, the social spaces of everyday life, and how this may be transforming. The title, ‘Journalism To Go’, thus has a tripartite meaning relating to changing notions of space, speed, and convenience in journalism. Specifically:
This paper demonstrates the analytic importance of the first of these by considering data generated through Barnhurst’s “Life History & The Media” project, which details young adults’ stories of media use. This analysis uncovers that moments of media consumption do not simply take place in space; rather, the spaces of everyday life are produced through these socio-cultural practices.
Data from a national Australian survey provide little evidence of a significant effect for the taste for soft news on news attachment among the general public as well as the six common sex-by-age targeted market segments of the news industry. This contradicts recent arguments that soft news is necessary to democratic life because, in an age of media proliferation and audience fragmentation, it keeps attention-scarce people with the news.
Jesper Stromback, Michael Karlsson and David Nicholas Hopmann
While there is a large body of research on news values and news selection, most research does not clearly distinguish between the concept of news and news selection on the one hand, and news values and criteria of newsworthiness on the other. These concepts are often treated as synonymous. This is problematic, as there may be many other factors aside from news values or criteria of newsworthiness that determine what becomes news, and as there may be differences between what journalists think should be, and actually is, important when deciding what’s news. Against this background, this study investigates what Swedish journalists think is, and should be, important event properties when deciding what’s news, and whether there are differences across journalists working for different kinds of media and depending on whether they work with online publishing. The results show that there are significant differences between the perceived normative and actual importance of investigated event properties when deciding what’s news.
An analysis of traditional and new news industries (i.e. newspapers, television, and online media) with Porter’s Five Forces as a framework, explain why business models for journalism in new media are not likely to become sustainable. While the competitive force of substitutes challenges the funding of journalism in newspapers, the main concern in the television industry is lower barriers of entry due to digital distribution. In new media all five competitive forces in the model work against profit in the news industry. As users and advertisers migrate online in the age of digitization, convergence and participation, news media are adapting and expanding their distribution strategies. This article argues that while new digital media products will increase their strategic value in order to defend and expand the reach of traditional media players, it is likely that the funding of journalism in the future will be dependent on the revenues from strong traditional media products in the portfolio. The findings from this analysis of Norwegian news industries will be generalizable to most sophisticated media markets.
Michael Brüggemann, Frank Esser and Edda Humprecht
Germany could be considered a deviant case in the comparative study of the current transformations in media markets as publishers continue to be profitable despite painting a gloomy picture of the possibility of there being a “media crisis.” What is specific about the German case is the strong economic position and political lobbying of the publisher associations. Combining different sources of primary and secondary data, this article investigates five strategies of crisis management (“the five Cs”): Media companies may react to the current changes by cutting down costs and creating new products. They may further try to influence the general framework conditions by complaining about their plight in public (discursive strategy), taking competitors to court (legal strategy) and wooing politicians through lobbying and campaigning (political strategy). The article concludes that the sustainable provision of journalistic value benefits the most from creative, productive strategies.
Marc-Olivier Goyette-Côté, Renaud Carbasse and Eric George
The democratization of Web access in the mid-1990s fueled the hopes of many for greater pluralism of information available to the public. Since 2001 the Internet has assumed a more central role in strategies for disseminating news in Canada, and eventually became one of the prime diffusion channels for some major news outlets. However, it appears that while some commentators argued that the Internet would broaden the spectrum of news producers, we have witnessed, in Canada at least, acceleration in the concentration of media ownership. The presence of these legacy actors is almost as important in the new media sector as in newspapers, radio and television, where the only major change has been the introduction of "pure players", called infomediaries (e.g. Google, Yahoo, MSN and Sympatico). In this paper, we examine firstly how structural factors and current contexts have forged the Canadian mediascape by accentuating a tendency towards the convergence, both technical and economical, of news actors. Secondly, we examine the consequences for journalism practices in the perspective of the apparent obstacle to information pluralism.
Inka Salovaara-Moring and Janis Juzefovics
This article explores the relationship between accountability journalism and changing media markets in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), especially in the Baltic countries. Although there is agreement that news journalism is salient for vital democratic public spheres, there is a dearth of studies on the relationship between commercial success and media ownership. The comparative approach looks at CEE media systems as media laboratories where the overall tendencies of the media industry can often be seen in their most severe form. Against the common claim of cultural colonialisation caused by foreign ownership within the region, this article argues that in the case of CEE societies, foreign ownership can be beneficial for accountability journalism by enabling journalists to secure the required distance from local political and economic interests. The article approaches the ownership/democracy equation by comparing the structural tendencies of the region, using Latvia as its case study. The data consist of media ownership and readership data, and specialist interviews.
Neil Thurman and Steve Schifferes
This paper tracks the recent history of personalization at national news websites in the UK and US, allowing an analysis to be made of the reasons for and implications of the adoption of this form of adaptive interactivity. Using three content surveys conducted over three and a half years, the study records—at an unprecedented level of detail—the range of personalization features offered by contemporary news websites, and demonstrates how news organizations increasingly rely on software algorithms to predict readers’ content preferences. The results also detail how news organizations’ deployment of personalization on mobile devices, and in conjunction with social networking platforms, is still at an early stage. In addressing the under-researched but important—and increasingly prevalent—phenomenon of personalization, this paper contributes to debates on journalism’s future funding, transparency, and societal benefits.
Kevin G. Barnhurst
Extending a long-term study of three print newspapers from 1894 to 1994, the third in a series of studies shows electronic editions adapting to the online environment. The newspapers did not reinvent themselves online in 2001, instead reproducing the forms of print as a way to continue established relationships with readers. But readers were changing, and by 2005 the web editions had shifted the form from mapping content to managing the reading experience. Users encountered stories with more jumps that could display advertisements and found links that kept traffic inside the site. By 2010 the sites were less meager compared to the design of print editions. The form had moved toward the index as a metaphor for public life, in the style of web portals. The sites preferred content interactivity to interpersonal inter-activity, continuing a long history of resisting innovation and new techniques for public engagement.
Axel Bruns and Jean Burgess
Twitter has become a major instrument for the rapid dissemination and subsequent debate of news stories, and comprehensive methodologies for systematic research into news discussion on Twitter are beginning to emerge. This paper outlines innovative approaches for large-scale quantitative research into how Twitter is used to discuss and cover the news, focussing especially on #hashtags: brief identifiers which mark a tweet as taking part in an established discussion.
Alfred Hermida, Fred Fletcher, Darryl Korrell and Donna Logan
This study examines the impact of social media spaces on news consumption, based on an online survey of 1,600 Canadians. News organizations are rushing into social media, viewing services like Facebook and Twitter as opportunities to market and distribute content. There has been limited research outside the US into the effects of social media on news consumption. Our study found that social networks are becoming a significant source of news for Canadians. Two-fifths of social networking users said they receive news from people they follow on services like Facebook, while a fifth get news from news organizations and individual journalists they follow. Users said they valued social media because it helped them keep up with events and exposed them to a wider range of news and information. While social interaction has always affected the dissemination of news, our study contributes to research that suggests social media are becoming central to the way people experience news. Networked media technologies are extending the ability of users to create and receive personalized news streams. Investigating how networked publics are reframing the news and shaping news flows would contribute to our understanding of the evolving relationship between the journalist and the audience.
Jeroen De Keyser and Karin Raeymaeckers
Journalists have traditionally focused on a small range of elite sources. Far less attention went to ordinary or common people, resulting in little visibility for that community in news output. However, bottom-up Web 2.0 technologies have given common people new communication tools, allowing them to disperse information autonomously. This has made traditional news media aware of a public desire for bottom-up participation in the news production process. Accordingly, some news media have begun to offer their own participation features. Bearing this context in mind, we address the question whether Web 2.0 has helped increase the visibility and importance of the common people in daily news output. Via a content analysis of five Flemish newspapers the current representation of ordinary citizens is compared to a decade ago, before the appearance Web 2.0. The analysis shows that citizens appear more prominently in the news nowadays.
This article discusses the ethical dilemmas involved in using WikiLeaks as a source for critical reporting. On one hand WikiLeaks has provided news organisations with useful material for their reports, but the ethical dilemmas arising from publishing this material with – in many cases – unknown sources, remains a problem. Using framing analyses inspired by the work of Robert Entman, the stories about Afghanistan published after the leaks in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten are compared to other news stories from Afghanistan in the same period. The samples in this survey are picked from both the online and the print version in order to get as many stories from Afghanistan as possible. All the stories were placed in pre-defined frames. The findings may also be seen in the light of earlier content analyses of the Afghanistan coverage in selected Norwegian media. The study concludes that the impact of WikiLeaks has been more significant for the framing than in the choice of topics. It seems that stories based on the WikiLeaks source tend to have a more critical narrative than other articles about Afghanistan when the topic is related to civilian casualties.
This article challenges the widespread idea that, in an age of instantaneous and ubiquitously accessible information, foreign correspondents are doomed to disappear. The last study of foreign correspondents in the London hub was conducted 30 years ago. Based on a new study involving a range of in-depth interviews with foreign correspondents in the British capital, the article reveals the ‘story behind their stories’ and the changes that have occurred since then. It particularly focuses on the impact that advances in communication technologies have had on the correspondents’ professional identity, newsgathering routines, and news outputs. The findings contribute to a more nuanced and empirical understanding of the impact of media globalization on the practice of journalism. They underline the increasingly important role of foreign correspondents as ‘sense makers’ within the huge tide of information available. While foreign journalists have to a large extent always fulfilled this function, they appear more needed than ever in a deeply interdependent world. Foreign correspondents are also developing novel ways of reporting. Indeed, rather than a ‘crisis’ of foreign correspondence, we could perhaps be witnessing its renaissance.
Agnieszka Stepinska and Szymon Ossowski
This paper provides an update of empirical data on the professional features, values and standards of Polish journalists. The study illustrates clear differences between three generations of journalists: those who have been working for media organizations for several decades now; those who entered the profession immediately following the political transformation of the late 1980s; and those who recently graduated from university. Interestingly, both the youngest and the oldest journalists seem to share some professional approaches. Namely, they believe that journalists should not be just news disseminators, but should also provide solutions to the problems of ordinary people. On the other hand, journalists who entered the profession two decades ago seem to be more interested in a watchdog role for the media. Since their professional career started during the political transformation period or soon after, they still perceive themselves as adversaries of public officials.
As the journalistic community confronts ongoing material transformations altering the production and reception of news, it also faces a continuing crisis of authority. The death of legendary US television news anchor Walter Cronkite in 2009 provided a moment for working and retired journalists to consider publicly the crisis of journalistic authority through explanations of his immense success anchoring the CBS Evening News during the 1960s and 1970s. During this era, nightly Cronkite viewing became a ritual for millions of Americans, which suggests the need to include attributes of ritual within an understanding of journalistic authority. Yet rather than acknowledge a role for ritual, journalists limited their self-assessment by invoking a narrow set of norms stressing information transmission. Ultimately, this> failure by the community to acknowledge journalistic authority in all its complexity hinders journalists’ ability to confront challenges encountered in the contemporary> media environment. This essay broadens conceptions of journalistic authority by calling for a greater acknowledgement of the role of ritual as a means of understanding journalism in both historical and contemporary contexts.
The study of intra-media agenda setting and issue dynamics in news reporting is essential to the understanding of the construction of issue attention cycles in the news. The present article identifies two factors—issue fatigue and issue competition—that influence the longitudinal development of issues in the news; factors that can contribute to explain the decline in attention to previously salient issues on the news agenda. Issue competition is present when a high level of attention to one issue ‘crowds out’ attention to other issues in the same news outlet in a given period of time. The specific focus of the analysis is on the cyclical pattern in news attention to environmental issues and the article shows how environmental news is crowded-out by economic news and news on war & armed conflicts in times of crises. The empirical data consist of quantitative analyses of the attention patterns in news reporting in Swedish television news over three decades, 1979- 2009.
Jane Johnston and Caroline Graham
While there is a significant literature on the rise of narrative journalism in daily newspapers, mostly from the United States, few studies have investigated the breakdown of newswriting styles in the front end of the newspaper, with a specific focus on the use of narrative techniques. This study investigates the writing styles of two daily metropolitan print newspapers in order to provide some concrete data on narrative news reporting in Australia. In a sense, it responds to Mark Kramer’s (2000) comment that “no one has added up the reallocated column inches to quantify this change”. The research analyses 5,000 articles from the news sections of broadsheets The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald in 2007 and 2009 to determine a breakdown of writing styles. It found that narrative writing styles had decreased over the two year period, claiming almost one fifth of stories in 2007 but less than one sixth in 2009. It also brings to the discussion in-depth interviews with leading newspaper editors and journalists. The study represents part of a longerterm trend analysis, to provide ongoing insights into print newspapers within the changing media landscape.
This article provides a transnational perspective on the development of journalism education in the United States and Europe. It embraces the founding of the first journalism schools in the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century to the establishment of new university-based programs in significant Western European countries during the late 1960s and 1970s. Both before and after World War II, academic training for the profession of journalism versus on-the-job apprenticeship system of “learning by doing” became a frequent dilemma and controversial topic. Beyond a comparative study of the state of the art in different countries, we attempt to show how the so-called ‘American model’ in journalism education was viewed from Europe and vice versa. As a result, some conclusions about the accuracy or distortion of those views are reached. Special emphasis is placed on the origins of some misconceptions resulting from certain oversimplifications rooted on both sides of the Atlantic.
Michael Karlsson and Christer Clerwall
This longitudinal study compares the development and implementation of multimedia on Swedish broadsheet and tabloid online news sites between 2005 and 2010. It also seeks the reasons behind these developments by interviewing journalists working on the sites. The results show that the initial implementation of multimedia was slow but increased sharply in pace between 2007 and 2008. By 2010, on average, one in four news items had some element of multimedia attached to them. Furthermore, results show that it was the quality papers that were the quickest off the mark rather than tabloids. The antecedents for this advance seem to be a mix of technological capacities, professional norms and economic needs.
Juan Ramón Muñoz-Torres
Since the nineteenth century, the theory of objectivity has been considered a cornerstone principle of journalism. However, during the last decades of the twentieth century, both communication scholars and practitioners increasingly began to contest the main notions embedded in it. As many authors have shown, no other concept has stimulated as much controversy as the concept of objectivity. But, unfortunately, most debates about it have proved to be, not only endless, but inconclusive. Interestingly enough, despite frequent statements by academics and journalists that the paradigm of objectivity is exhausted, when it comes to setting up professional criteria in public debates, this concept inevitably reappears ― mostly in an implicitly way ― again. This proves that it still remains firmly entrenched. This paper delves deep into the philosophical underpinnings of the theory of objectivity, namely, its positivist presumptions stemming from the empiricist tradition. More specifically, I have attempted to argue that: (i) objectivity is not only an impossible ideal, but rather an ill-conceived question, based upon the mistaken premises of positivism; (ii) the concept of objectivity has partly managed to replace a more fundamental one, that of truth, thus becoming confusing and fallacious.
Francis L. F. Lee
Premised on the argument that a full understanding of the social significance of a
medium should take into account whether and how other media platforms
remediate the medium and its contents, this article examines how mainstream
newspapers in Hong Kong selectively appropriate talk radio discourses and
incorporate them into news texts. More specifically, drawing upon insights developed by research on reported speech and constructed dialogue, the analysis focuses on how newspapers of different political orientations represent, reconstruct, and organize the speeches of government officials attending radio shows, the citizen-callers, the hosts, and other news sources into social dialogues, and in the process having the newspapers’ own voices layered onto the reported voices. The analysis contributes to our understanding of how remediation operates and illustrates the analysis of constructed dialogue as a distinctive way to examine and understand news discourses.
This article draws on the concept of framing to analyse Irish print-media coverage of the public and private sectors in the first two years of Ireland’s economic crisis, 2008–2010. It examines the underlying framing contest among institutional sources (Government, Opposition, trade unions, employers’ groups, and financial services) to win favourable coverage for their sectional interests and ideological arguments about the size, role and obligations of the State. The research is based on a content and cluster analysis of a substantial sample of articles from quality and mid-market Irish daily and Sunday newspapers. The article offers concluding comments on the explanatory robustness of the dominant news-model in Ireland in the face of a process on the scale of the economic crisis.
Roger Dickinson and Bashir Memon
This article reports original research findings about the role of press clubs in Pakistan
and shows how media systems and social structures are powerful shaping influences
on the practice of journalism. Drawing on Bourdieu’s field theory the article examines
field dynamics in Pakistani journalism and the means by which journalists protect
themselves and their collective interests. A key element in the Pakistani news world
is the press club. The empirical data collected via a survey of 576 journalists and
focus group discussions show that divisions in the journalistic field between autonomy and heteronomy are not always clear-cut. In Pakistan the press club system helps journalists to pursue their self-interest. This is a reminder that to understand news production and journalism and how they are performed and accomplished, it must be acknowledged that they are forms of social organization that are historically, culturally, and socially situated.
Cory Armstrong, Michael P. Boyle and Douglas M. McLeod
Social protest is truly a global phenomenon with recent examples including protests in Asia, North America, and the Middle East. This study investigates how gender representations in protest coverage differ not only based on characteristics of the protests but also location and other factors. Examining 220 newspaper stories from four global regions, a content analysis revealed that gender portrayals differ in part by the region of the world. Further, women were most likely to appear when the story was nonpolitical, the tactics were more peaceful, and when the disparity between male and female sources was lower. Implications for newspaper and gender research are discussed.
Notes on Contributors
Hsiang Iris Chyi, Seth C. Lewis & Nan Zheng
During 2008-2010, U.S. newspapers covered the financial issues confronting their own industry extensively. Such coverage drew attention to the state of the newspaper but also raised questions about whether journalists over-reacted to this market downturn. This study examines how the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the New York Times framed the newspaper “crisis.” Results show that coverage focused on short-term drama over long-term trends, lacked sufficient context, shifted blame away from newspapers themselves, invoked “death” imagery, and altogether struggled to capture a holistic portrayal of newspapers’ troubles. The implications of this analysis for self-coverage and business journalism are discussed.
The front pages of Scandinavian “quality newspapers”, often include aesthetically pleasing and enigmatic photographs that dominate the whole page. These pictures seem to deviate from the traditional function of press pictures as facts in news stories. At the same time, they can be understood as part of a modernist tradition in journalism where objectivity is the norm. By adopting a historical perspective, this article highlights the subjective and artistic dimension in photography as it developed in parallel with the ideal of objectivity in the 1930s. This approach makes it possible to understand today’s front page photographs as well suited in meeting the effects of digitalization such as “multivocality” and a general mistrust in photography’s indexical status.
Henri C. Nickels, Lyn Thomas, Mary J. Hickman & Sara Silvestri
Irish and Muslim communities in Britain are, or have often been constructed negatively in public discourse, where they have been associated with terrorism and extremism. Despite similarities in the experiences of these communities, little comparative research has been conducted. We address this gap by implementing a critical discourse analysis of national and diaspora press coverage of events involving Irish and Muslim communities that occurred in Great Britain between 1974 and 2007. We identified a consensus within the press that ‘law-abiding’ Irish and Muslim people must stand up against ‘extremists’ within their ranks and defend what newsmakers perceive are British values; in this way Irish and Muslim communities are constructed as both inside and outside Britishness. We conclude that the construction of these communities as ‘suspect’ happens mostly in the ambiguity of news discourse, which contributes to fostering a socio-political climate that has permitted civil liberties to be violated by the state security apparatus.
Yunya Song & Tsan-Kuo Chang
This study compares different sampling methods and sample sizes in the selection of daily newspapers in China for content analysis of the news. Results show that the method of constructed week sampling is more efficient than simple random sampling or consecutive day sampling, and a single constructed week allows reliable estimates of news content in a population of six months of newspaper editions even for highly volatile variables. The weekday-plus-Saturday constructed week sampling, an often-used sampling stratification approach in content analyses of Chinese daily newspapers, however, requires a larger sample size, depending on the types of variables being analyzed.
Celia Tsui and Francis L. F. Lee
Gender inequalities persist in the journalism industry in Hong Kong, as female journalists are seriously under-represented in the upper echelons of news organizations. Not unlike other countries, a major reason contributing to the phenomenon is the family-work tensions experienced by many female journalists, which lead many to leave the field at different stages in their lives. This study examines this problematic through the lens of Bourdieu’s field theory. Individual journalists are seen as positioned in several overlapping fields in differentiated manners. Using survey and in-depth interviews, this study not only highlights the presence of structural inequalities in journalism and the pervasiveness of family-work tensions for female journalists, but also interrogates the conditions which allow some female journalists to handle work and family simultaneously and relatively successfully. We also discuss the implications of our findings for ways to tackle the problem of gender inequalities in journalism.
Michael Meyen and Claudia Riesmeyer
This article presents a typology of role perceptions arrived at by a base of about 500 qualitative interviews conducted with German journalists from all branches of the media system. Between 2005 and 2008 German journalists were questioned about their careers, their working conditions, and their role perceptions. The present study uses the field theory of Bourdieu in order to examine the factors which influence the journalists’ role perceptions. Bourdieu’s terms habitus, capital, and field are used as analysis instruments, and guided the research process.
Scholars have recognized the importance of commercial news media in disseminating diversified information to challenge state censorship. However, these observations fail to explain adequately how and why the authoritarian regime in China is able to strengthen its capacity to control information even after information flourished dramatically since the 1990s. From a state perspective, I argue that besides disseminating information, commercialization also differentiates informational and state-media conflict, which transforms the previous single-dimensional state-media regime into a three-dimensional one. During this process, the development of the court system and the labor market have played a significant role in shaping state-media dynamics and offer the state the structural resilience to survive these information challenges. The implications of the new state-media regime are further discussed.
Commentators have become a widely used news source and popular work force in many news organisations. Previous research, however, has done little to help describe and discuss the background for the rise, reach and relevance of commentators in a specific journalistic context - even though many commentators have originally worked as journalists, depend on journalistic work as daily points of reference and appear in journalistic settings, whenever they comment on politics. This neglect is addressed in this article that takes the biography and bibliography of Walter Lippmann as a starting point for analyzing the popularization of political commentators. Building on Lippmann’s life and the books, columns and other texts he produced during his career, this article presents a new analytical framework that might help explain the practical and principal potentials – and problems – those past and present commentators represent in a journalistic context.
The School of Journalism and Media Studies, Rhodes University, South Africa
Lynette Steenveld, Larry Strelitz and Herman Wasserman
Notes on Contributors
Henrik Bodker and Irene Neverla
Stefan Cihan Aykut, Jean-Baptiste Comby and Hélène Guillemot
This article offers an analysis of controversies surrounding the coverage of climate change in the French press. The theoretical framework for the analysis combines the sociology of public problems, media sociology, and science and technology studies. We present these controversies as an expression of a struggle over the ownership and framing of climate change as a public problem. Specific social groups are involved in this process of definition, framing, and agenda-setting. The success or failure of these groups in closing debates results in the construction of issues as either consensual matters-of-fact or controversial matters-of-concern (Latour, 2004). This framework allows us to distinguish between two phases in the career of this public problem, characterised by differences in ownership-configurations (Gusfield, 1981) and the visibility of controversial points of view. We identify four relevant groups – scientists, politicians, journalists and NGOs – as well as certain social processes that help to explain changes in the attention that controversies received from the media. We conclude with the hypothesis of a third phase characterised by a relatively high degree of attention on controversies in French media.
Adam Shehata & David Nicolas Hopmann
This comparative study investigates news coverage of climate change in the U.S. and Sweden. The main research question concerns the extent to which news coverage of climate change is influenced by domestic political elite discussion or the scientific consensus surrounding the issue. While there has been a widespread consensus in Sweden that climate change is (partly) caused by human activity and that there is an unquestionable need to take countermeasures, there has been substantial debate about the causes and the necessity of political action in the United States. Based on an extensive content analysis of 1,785 articles over a ten-year period, as well as an intensive analysis of news coverage of the Kyoto and Bali summits, results show that media coverage is strikingly similar in these two countries, indicating a weak influence of national political elites on how climate change is framed in news coverage.
The media play an essential role in the construction of social reality and consequently knowledge of what is reported in the media is essential to understanding social attitudes towards significant issues such as climate change. The assumption here is that more and/or better information fosters a clearer understanding of ecological issues, environmental awareness in society, and contributes to a transformation of values, attitudes and behaviour. Few authors focus on the role of journalism in the mass communication of climate change in Latin American countries; however, these countries are very important in international negotiations because they possess most of the natural reserves to be protected at this crucial time, the “post Kyoto” stage. For these reasons, Argentina is chosen as the focus of this study.
This article explores the extent to which approaches to participatory politics might offer a more useful alternative to understanding the role of environmental journalism in a society where the old certainties have collapsed, only to be replaced by acute uncertainty. This uncertainty not only generates acute public anxiety about risks, it has also undermined confidence in the validity of long-standing premises about the ideal role of the media in society and journalistic professionalism. The consequence, this article argues, is that aspirations of objective reportage are outdated and ill equipped to deal with many of the new risk stories environmental journalism covers. It is not a redrawing of boundaries that is needed but a wholesale relocation of our frameworks into approaches better suited to the socio-political conditions and uncertainties of late modernity. The exploration of participatory approaches is an attempt to suggest one way this might be done.
Environmental journalism challenges conventional notions in journalism, such as journalists’ status as remote and neutral observers. Many environmental journalists even argue for a new position as active participations in various debates about meaning making. This position is explored in this study using Vincent Mosco’s notion of ‘active social agency’ (in Ballesteros et al., 2010) for communication workers. By using such active agency, journalists engage in negotiations with other institutional agents in society over the meaning conveyed in news reporting about important environmental issues. This paper examines two week’s news coverage of a media campaign in Bangladesh in June 2009; the campaign aimed to save ailing rivers around the city of Dhaka. By studying empirically which topics achieve news attention and which sources attain visibility or suffer exclusion from news content, this paper demonstrates that approaches to environmental reporting do embrace some elements of active participation in debates compared to more conventional notions of journalistic neutrality and distance. The paper also argues that the nature of environmental news reporting in Bangladesh is mainly ‘episodic’ (Iyengar 1991), which is consistent with other countries, while elements of long-term ‘thematic’ news coverage of such issues is only slightly evident.
Wendy Bacon & Chris Nash
The coal industry is a high profile and significant sector of the Australian economy that is coming under increasing criticism as a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. This paper offers a Bourdiesian field analysis of major Australian newspaper coverage of the coal industry in relation to economic, political and environmental issues. Theoretically, it extends Bourdieu's field model to embrace the issue of visibility and invisibility of agents and their positions in the field, using the work of Goffman, Giddens and Ericson. Empirically it finds that both journalists and their sources actively engage with factors of invisibility and visibility in contesting the representation of coal industry interests in media coverage. Overall there is a common journalistic endorsement and visibility across all newspapers of the national and regional economic benefits of the coal mining and power generation industries, but marked differences among individual newspapers in how they position themselves and their sources with respect to climate change impacts and issues. A key factor in the contestation over the journalistic coverage is the production of visibility and invisibility for specific information and activity.
This paper contributes to the understanding of the developing relationships between NGOs, journalists and environmental issues in general, and climate change in particular. It follows seventeen Norwegian NGOs over a period of ten years, evaluating their ability to set the agenda for public debate on environmental issues in Norway, about the types of organisations that have succeeded in setting the agenda in Norwegian print media over the last ten years. What role does the emergence of climate change as a dominating global environmental issue play in the agenda-setting capacity of Norwegian NGOs? The results do not support earlier findings that highlight an increasing media focus on sensation and identification and a lack of depth and quality. By contrast, the “winners” found in this investigation are generally those organisations that focus on producing knowledge, and not those that focus on supposedly media-friendly activism. The results also stand in contrast to existing literature on the “success” of Greenpeace. Greenpeace and similar organisations found it hard to compete for media attention as the media interest turned from pollution, roads, dams and local issues to the very complex matter of global climate change. These findings are, finally, used to reflect on how journalists employ journalistic norms.
The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) is an Australian neoliberal think tank and high-profile news source that rejects the evidence of anthropogenic climate change and opposes mitigation strategies such as an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). This paper uses Ernest Bormann’s Symbolic Convergence Theory firstly to identify the anti-climate science fantasy themes developed by the IPA and then to trace the chaining out of these fantasy themes from the IPA into the news media. The data analysed includes: (a) magazine articles published in The IPA Review during 1989-2009; (b) op-eds published by IPA senior staff in Australian newspapers during 1989-2009; and (c) editorials and opinion columns that praised IPA associate Ian Plimer and his climate ‘sceptic’ book during April-June 2009 in the lead up to the first Australian parliamentary debates on introducing an ETS.
Notes on Contributors
The on-going collapse of mainstream American journalism has occasioned attempts to salvage it, with the explanation that democracy is at risk when “serious”, “socially responsible” journalism is absent. This paper, taking Daniel Hallin’s cue, argues that mainstream journalism’s dramatic rise and fall, largely a post-war phenomenon, can be significantly explained as an instance of cultural modernism. Drawing on concepts from modernist architecture, the paper shows how journalism’s high-modernist aspirations pitted it against the persistent, vernacular journalism of tabloid news, involving features of design, discourse and practice, and why they can be understood, not as a successfully achieved scientific journalism, but as the passing modernist moment in the continuing contestation about the nature of news and news reporting.
Dominic L. Lasorsa, Seth Lewis and Avery Holton
This study examines how mainstream journalists who microblog negotiate their professional norms and practices in a new media format that directly challenges them. Through a content analysis of more than 22,000 of their tweets (postings) on the microblog platform Twitter, this study reveals that the journalists more freely express opinions, a common microblogging practice but one which contests the journalistic norm of objectivity (impartiality and nonpartisanship). To a lesser extent, the journalists also adopted two other norm-related microblogging features: providing accountability and transparency regarding how they conduct their work and sharing user-generated content with their followers. The journalists working for national newspapers, national television news divisions, and cable news networks were less inclined in their tweets than their counterparts working for less “elite” news outlets, to relinquish their gatekeeping role by sharing their stage with other news gatherers and commentators, or to provide accountability and transparency by providing information about their jobs, engaging in discussions with other tweeters, writing about their personal lives, or linking to external websites.
Stephen Coleman, David Morrison and Scott Anthony
How the news is produced, circulated and consumed weighs heavily on the form and force of citizenship. And yet much of the existing literature tends to reduce the tricky issue of trust to the appreciably more straightforward issue of accuracy. The research reported here asked the public what they expected from the news and journalists expected of the public. The findings suggest that trust in the news is more complex and nuanced than mere questions of journalistic veracity.
This study uses fantasy theme analysis to examine reader comments left on news articles at foxnews.com in an attempt to unravel the rhetorical vision that Fox readers construct to help them make political and personal sense of Barack Obama’s presidency. Results describe the dramatic forms that readers envision and re-enact when articles about the president – favorable, unfavorable, or tangential – are presented.
Diverse types of news websites compete with one another to attract Internet users’ attention. This context raises the following questions: Do different news websites update their content on a real-time basis to attract users? What is the status of immediacy in online media? This study casts doubt on the notion that vast amounts of instantly changed news circulate among online media. This doubt asserts that the immediacy of online news is a myth because it reflects only the beliefs of researchers, journalists, and users. Further, this myth ignores the fact that institutional practices govern the news production activity of news websites. This mythological nature of immediacy has not received sufficient attention in previous research. This study tracks news websites in South Korea, a leading country in broadband penetration, to demonstrate this mythological status of immediacy.
Helle Sjøvaag, Hallvard Moe and Eirik Stavelin
This article provides an empirical basis for discussions of public service news on the web. Through innovative use of computer-assisted data gathering and structuring, and a combination of quantitative methods, we present the results from a large-scale analysis of the online news content of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, NRK. The study reveals not only specifics of the online news genre, but also the dual role of NRK as a public service broadcaster. nrk.no fulfils regional content provisions by having a heavy local news focus on the website’s ‘inside’. Simultaneously, its front page profile suggests NRK operates in direct competition with commercial national online news actors. The article offers new insights into the nature of online news as offered by a large, traditional media institution. These insights are key to any discussion of online journalism, as well as the future of public service broadcasting. Furthermore, through the employment of innovative computer-assisted data collection and structuring, the article aims to contribute to the development of the methodological arsenal of journalism studies.
The nomination of an anti-war candidate in the Central Southwark by-election of February 1940 confronted Britain’s newspapers with a dilemma. How should the press in a democracy fighting totalitarianism balance its obligation to hold power to account and its duty to the national interest? At this stage of the phony war, editors who knew that by-elections could stimulate national debate privileged the interests of the state. They conflated establishment and public interest and limited discussion to ideas represented in orthodox parliamentary opinion. Content analysis reveals newspapers engaged in self-censorship on behalf of a war that had not yet generated popular enthusiasm.
Stella Chia and Mark Cenite
This study investigated the causes of individuals’ perceived news bias in an authoritarian press system – Singapore. We proposed two explanations for individuals’ perception of news article slant: the judgment-heuristic explanation and the attitude-influenced explanation. The judgment-heuristic explanation suggests that people’s perception of media characteristics, rather than the actual news content, would affect their judgment of news bias. The attitude-influenced explanation, on the other hand, suggests that people’s issue involvement and attitudes towards the issue may influence how they process news information and ultimately affect their evaluation of news article slant. Both explanations received support in this study. We also found that media source, audiences’ personal opinion, and their issue involvement would interact and produce joint effects on audiences’ judgment of news article slant.
Notes on Contributors