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Journalism Studies 2013: Contents and Abstracts

Contents and Abstracts of December 2013

(Vol 14 - No 6)

Video Review


Agenda Diversity and Agenda Setting From 1956 to 2004 What are the trends over time?

Yue Tan & David H. Weaver

Using aggregate time-series data, this study tests four research hypotheses. First, we examine the long-term trend in the issue agenda diversity of the public as measured by the Gallup Most Important Problem question from 1956 to 2004. Second, we test whether the agenda-setting effect between the media agenda and the public agenda has become weaker over that time. Finally, with multivariate autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) modeling, this study investigates the causal relationships among the longitudinal changes in public agenda diversity, the New York Time's content diversity, and the New York Times' agenda-setting effect on public opinion. While no significant trend in the agenda-setting effect was found, we found a significant quadratic trend in public agenda diversity and significant causal relationships among these three time-series measures. In short, increased public agenda diversity decreased the New York Times' public agenda-setting effect, and the issue agenda diversity of the New York Times has decreased over time, but the overall agenda-setting effect between the New York Times and the public has not become weaker over time.

“Culture Clash” in Phoenix Online news framing of gang rape in a refugee community

Nancy Worthington

This case study examines online news framing of a group rape occurring in a Liberian refugee community in Phoenix, Arizona, where four boys sexually assaulted an eight-year-old girl. Specifically, the paper analyzes how the website of the Phoenix-based Arizona Republic newspaper,, constructed the assault and its aftermath, focusing on what framing suggested about the causes of the crime and the role of identity discourses about gender, class, race, nation, and age. Findings suggest two dominant frames that blame the crime and its aftermath on Liberian culture by mobilizing identity discourse to construct youthful male Liberian refugees as violent “others,” and by suggesting that gang rape and victim-blaming are alien to American culture. A less prevalent frame counters the cultural explanation, pointing instead to individual responsibility. To some extent, dominant framing implicates social structures as a cause of rape, but overemphasizes race and nation to mask how they intersect with gender and age, thereby constructing the story in ways that support public anxiety about refugees more than progressive reforms to alleviate gender violence. The conclusions suggest that the frames identified follow established patterns for news constructions of gender violence involving young perpetrators of color. Thus, the study adds a new dimension to recent research likening online newspapers to their print predecessors in ways that reveal a cautious approach to the embrace of the innovative possibilities of internet-based news.

Journalistic Communication - Revisiting James Carey

Peter Bro

This article revisits James Carey's scholarly work on the intersection between communication and journalism, and finds—hidden in his writings—three distinct, but interconnected models of communication. These models can be conceptualized by the means, methods and middlemen they use to accommodate communication between people. The first model is based on transportation, the second model is based on transmission and the third—and least described, discussed and developed model in James Carey's work—is based on a process of translation. In this third model, intermediaries, such as journalists, connect other people—willing or not—in written, verbal, audible or other types of communication. Each of the tree models carries with it new potentials and problems in terms of the communicative structures, streams and actors they prompt, and even if the models endure over time and space, the means, methods and middlemen might not.

Newsroom as Battleground - Journalists' description of their workspaces

Akhteruz Zaman

The field of Journalism Studies has generally overlooked the issue of “space” in news work, which is a significant shortcoming. This study contributes to addressing this by examining how news workers describe the newsroom as a prime space of their work. It is informed by interviews with journalists and other news workers from the Sydney newsroom of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The study uses Lefebvre's idea of continual production and reproduction of the real and ideal spaces, Harvey's dialectical tensions between the absolute, relative and relational space, and Massey's notion of relational space to suggest that the journalists' descriptions of newsrooms allude to conflict and contestation themes, and make the metaphor of “battleground” a fitting characterisation of it.

A Converging Image? - Commercialism and the visual identity of alternative and mainstream news websites

Linda Jean Kenix

Visual imagery, while largely overlooked in mass communication research, is central to how organizations represent themselves, make meaning, create identities, and communicate with the rest of the world. This research explores visual differences between alternative and mainstream news websites along the conceptual categorization of deviance. More deviant groups have historically represented themselves through alternative media with themes of confrontation and challenge, often through violent or sexualized imagery. However, online communication is now largely commercialized and commodified in order to professionalize a consumerist aesthetic that can attract mass audiences and return a profit. This research explores the visual communication of both alternative and mainstream media in an online environment where the whole world is watching.

The Pre-Socialization of Future Journalists - An examination of journalism students' professional views in seven countries

Claudia Mellado, Folker Hanusch, María Luisa Humanes, Sergio Roses, Fábio Pereira, Lyuba Yez, Salvador De León, Mireya Márquez, Federico Subervi & Vinzenz Wyss

While the role of university journalism education in the professionalization of journalists has been extensively debated, systematic and comparative studies of journalism students are still scarce. This paper reports the findings from a comparative study of journalism students in seven countries: Australia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States. The data show a number of similarities, but also important differences between pre-professional cultures in journalism around the world. The findings are in line with recent conceptualizations of media systems, although some variations and particularities are observed at the country level. While students in all countries reject a loyal approach and favor a citizen-oriented role, they also do so to different extents. Brazilian and Chilean students believe in the citizen-oriented and watchdog roles, whereas their counterparts in Australia, Switzerland, and the United States favor the consumer-oriented approach to a greater extent. Mexican and Spanish students, on the other hand, while supporting the citizen-oriented role, reject the loyal role comparatively less than the rest of the countries.

Copyright, Free Speech, and The Public's Right to Know - Journalists and fair use

Patricia Aufderheide, Jan Lauren Boyles & Katie Bieze

This study explores the problems that US journalists face in employing the copyright doctrine of fair use under copyright in their work, and heralds a solution. US copyright policy's expansion of monopoly rights since 1976, harshly shrinking the public domain, has forced journalists to understand their fair use rights better. Fair use permits use of copyrighted material without permission or payment, under some circumstances. Without vigorous application of fair use, freedom of the press and its public sphere functions are impaired. Interviews with 81 journalists in a range of media show that journalists receive inadequate and conflicting fair use advice in their education and work environments, and often share misinformation. As a consequence they delay, limit coverage and even choose not to release information. The problem is most acute in emergent digital platforms and in small organizations. Journalists made aware of this problem have taken action to shape a set of principles interpreting their fair use rights. This set of principles offers an opportunity to share journalistic standards for US fair use, following the model of other communities of practice that have been able to do their work more easily and effectively as a result. The US situation is particular to US law, but has international implications.

Foreclosing Deliberation - Journalists' lowering of expectations in the marketplace of ideas

Brian Klocke & Michael McDevitt

This study examines how journalists responded to intellectual dissent from prevailing understandings of the 9/11 attacks in a controversy surrounding an essay by Professor Ward Churchill. By triangulating textual analysis with interviews of Colorado newspaper journalists, we explore how reporters and editors made sense of their participation in a foreclosing of deliberation. The findings suggest that paradigm repair is not sufficient as a framework for how professionals perceive their work when news construction conforms to hegemonic logic. We introduce the concept of professional realism, whereby journalists lower expectations for themselves as participants in a marketplace of ideas. Professional realism is less about repair of normative journalism than a retreat from deliberative principles and a defense of news practices that reaffirm cultural boundaries of political dissent. We nonetheless document ambivalence and regret in journalists' evaluation of their work, along with a kind of backstage, personal resistance to anti-deliberative practice.

Print and Online News - Remediation practices in content and form

Vaia Doudaki & Lia-Paschalia Spyridou

Drawing upon the notions of remediation and bricolage, the present study investigates the content relationship of print and online news. The article analyses the main characteristics and changes occurring in the form of print and online news at a time when cultural, technological and economic imperatives nurture a new ethos in the practices of professionals and organizations. Print and online newspapers in Greece seem to share a symbiotic relationship, with the representational power of the print—articulated in news form and relevant news values and criteria—still being strong. Although displacement effects are hard to claim, both print and online media tend to refashion themselves. It remains to be seen whether this refashioning process will lead the two media to greater amalgamation, bringing them even to merge into one or whether divergence processes will prevail, generating distinct news forms.

The Press Versus the Public - What is “good journalism?”

Homero Gil de Zúñiga & Amber Hinsley

For several decades, citizens have reported that they trust some news outlets over others largely because they perceive the industry to be biased in its coverage. On the other hand, journalists have a more positive perception of their work than does the public. Long-standing research on journalists confirms they see their profession as a public-service calling, featuring principal tenets that include being watchdogs and providing analysis of complex problems. Recent research on the public suggests poor perceptions of press performance are linked to reduced news consumption. Using two contemporaneous survey data from both US newspaper journalists and the US public, this research first sheds some light over what may constitute “good journalism” for the public and for journalists. Then, it compares news consumers' views of the work being produced by the newspaper profession and the views held by the newspaper journalists themselves. Additionally, the present study explores the connection between the public's perception of good journalism and their consumption of distinct modes of information: traditional news, citizen journalism, and infotainment. Findings indicate that newspaper journalists give significantly higher marks to their performance on the tenets of “good journalism” than do members of the public. Furthermore, there is a positive association between citizens who reported higher scores on journalists' “good journalism” performance and the consumption of traditional news and infotainment programs. No association is found with respect to the likelihood to consume citizen journalism content. Implications of these findings and shortcoming of the study are also addressed in this paper.


Contents and Abstracts of October 2013

(Vol 14 - No 5)

Video Review


“An Organ of Uplift?” - The popular press and political culture in interwar Britain

Adrian Bingham

This article examines the role the popular daily press played both in integrating voters into Britain's new mass democracy after 1918, and in redefining the nature of political debate. It will start by suggesting that “depoliticisation” is not the most useful model for understanding interwar popular journalism. The article will then look briefly at the ways in which the popular press addressed the people most poorly integrated into British political culture, namely the new female voters and the non-unionised working class. It will highlight the extent to which the popular press emphasised the importance of citizenship and encouraged involvement in the political process. While not seeking to disguise the limitations of this material, it will argue that the popular press's political content was more varied and unpredictable than historians often assume.

Press advertising and fascist dictates - Showcasing the female consumer in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany

Bianca Gaudenzi

This article provides a nuanced assessment of the process of politicisation undergone by press advertising during the Fascist and Nazi dictatorships in relation to the images of womanhood that were propagated in the press at the time. Conceived as key agents in the regimes' demographic and economic crusades, women and their commercial representation acquired unprecedented relevance in the eyes of the Fascist and Nazi leadership, which sought to regulate it through a variety of measures. Despite these efforts, press advertisements never fully conformed to the required fascist ideal but rather continued to propagate a variety of fairly contradictory models that revealed a considerable level of continuity with their predecessors and post-1945 successors—and still partly fit within the broad modernising trends that characterised the European interwar press and advertising sectors.

The political cartoon as educationalist journalism - David Low's portrayal of mass unemployment in interwar Britain

Mark Hampton

This article examines David Low's depiction of unemployment in his cartoons during the interwar period, as a case study of the political cartoon as journalism. In doing so, it highlights the instability of journalism as a genre or, put more positively, the self-conscious blurring of generic forms. Even as the word “journalist” shed its mid-nineteenth-century opprobrium, late nineteenth-century voices had argued over the competing claims of reporters, leader-writers, and proprietors to the title of “journalist” (Hampton 2005). Low, while claiming his caricature as “art”, simultaneously asserted his identity as a journalist and the status of caricature as journalism. This articulation constituted, among other things, a response to contemporary debates about the New Journalism. In an era in which cultural traditionalists and leftist political writers both lamented what they saw as the debasement of public discourse through a popular journalism that was incapable of grappling with complexity, and in which, they argued, the yielding of the word to image was one of its gravest failings, Low used caricature to offer systemic critiques of British political and economic arrangements. Accordingly, while the interwar popular press was commonly dismissed as lacking in serious political content—a dismissal that has generally been echoed by historians (Bingham 2012)—Low's political cartoons demonstrated the capacity for conveying serious political messages within an entertaining medium.

Gentleman, Journalist, Gentleman-Journalist - Gossip columnists and the professionalisation of journalism in interwar Britain

Sarah Newman

This article uses the diaries and private and professional correspondence of interwar gossip columnists to offer new insights into the professionalisation of popular journalism in interwar Britain. I argue that newspaper proprietors and editors “loved” the upper-class columnist, not only for the commercial success he could bring, but because his employment helped to define and stabilise the status of both the popular newspaper and the journalist in a period of rapid change. By focusing on the figure of the elite gossip columnist I argue that the upper-class gentleman influenced ideas of nationhood in the first half of the century. I also argue that new features of popular culture like the gossip column and the professionalisation of journalism, moreover, impacted on gentlemanly forms of identity. I develop these arguments in three ways: firstly, by exploring the cultural context of the gentleman-journalist, secondly, analysing the professional context in which they worked and, thirdly, by examining the gossip columnists' “private” diaries and letters.

Fashion for all? - The transatlantic fashion business and the development of a popular press culture during the interwar period

Véronique Pouillard

The goal of this article is to examine the role of the media in the international fashion business between the wars. New York switched from a position of first importer of French fashions, to a contender of Paris hegemony. But despite a dramatic raise in tariffs and dwindling fashion exports, Paris managed to remain the main originator of women's fashions until the Second World War. In studying this situation, I will first examine the mechanisms of the diffusion of design innovation and set out the international fashion press networks of the interwar period. I will then examine the complex relationship that developed between fashion designers and the media, with a focus on the press, showing how during the 1920s the couturiers imposed an increasing number of restrictions to the shows' spectators, to photographers, and to the press, due to a growing concern for industrial espionage. Finally, I will examine specific cases of relationships of couturiers with the press, including the advertisement of tie-in products, the endorsement of couture by French and American celebrities, and the first attempts at professionalized public relations strategies in the fashion business.

The creation of European news - News agency cooperation in interwar Europe

Heidi Tworek

This article explores the changes in news agency mechanisms that accompanied the restructuring of Europe after World War I. During the interwar period, a new form of negotiation replaced the pre-World War I conception of English, French and German spheres of influence with a more cooperative vision of the collection and dissemination of news. I argue that the private and business-oriented nature of news agency cooperation enabled it to outlast better-known political attempts at multilateralism. Indeed, it often produced more concrete results by offering different incentives for cooperation to all involved from large global agencies, such as Reuters, down to the small agencies of new Central and Eastern European nation-states. Overall, the agencies' cooperation until the outbreak of World War II suggests alternative periodizations of the interwar period than the division into a fairly internationalist 1920s followed by the increasing bilateralism of the 1930s.

Crowds, Culture and Power - Mass politics and the press in interwar France

Jessica Wardhaugh

The political battles of the interwar period—in France as elsewhere—are inconceivable without the agency of the press. This article contributes to a deeper understanding of mass politics by focusing on the relationships between the press and the people in the case of the Parti Communiste Français and the right-wing Parti Social Français. Its originality lies in its comparative approach and varied subject matter, encompassing not only press articles and photography, but also theatre and film. Exploring the strategies by which these two extreme political groupings sought to implant themselves in popular culture and to substantiate their claims to speak for the French people, the article reveals tensions between concepts of the “people” as historical actors, readers, and consumers.

“You will find Germany in peace and order” Edward Meeman, an American journalist who praised and condemned Nazi Germanye

Dale Zacher

This case study documents the news reporting of Edward J. Meeman (1889–1966), who was among the first reporters from the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain to visit Germany after the Nazis consolidated their power in the summer of 1933. The completeness of the record surrounding Meeman's month-long visit makes his reporting from Germany an excellent way to examine the issues that visiting US journalists faced in the earliest days of the Nazi dictatorship and the quality of information they could obtain about the regime. This paper, in particular, contributes to our understanding of how much of Nazi Germany's anti-Semitic foundations were evident to visiting American journalists in 1933.


Contents and Abstracts of August 2013

(Vol 14 - No 4)

Video Review


"We agreed that women were a nuisance in the office, anyway" - The portrayal of women journalists in early twentieth-century British fiction

Sarah Lonsdale

The growing numbers of women journalists entering the profession in the early twentieth century provoked mixed reactions from contemporary novelists. Responses evolved from cheering on a doughty pioneer to questioning whether women's presence in the mass print media was helping reform the status of women or reinforcing gender stereotypes. Little is known about the personal struggles of women journalists in the early years of the popular press. In the absence of plentiful data, the study of novels and short stories, many of them semi-autobiographical and written by men and women working in the early twentieth-century newspaper industry, combined with analysis of previously un-studied memoirs and early guides for women journalists, illuminate the obstacles—and opportunities—experienced by these pioneers.

The making of soviet ally in British wartime popular press

Claire Knight

This study conducts a framing analysis of British popular press representations of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) during 1939–41, when the definition of the Soviet Union as Ally was conceived, dismissed, revived and finally embraced with an enthusiasm that endured to the eve of the Cold War. Particular attention is paid to the ways in which the press framed an initially inscrutable third party to a bilateral conflict, and how it handled that party's transformation into an official ally. The definition of the Soviet Ally is found to be consistently reassuring and relational, with the Soviet frame depending upon other parties (particularly Britain) for much of its content.

Technological practices,news production processes and journalistic witnesssing - Hong Kong journalists in the 2011 Japan earthquake

Bess Y. Wang, Francis L. F. Lee & Haiyan Wang

This article examines the practices of journalistic witnessing in the case of Hong Kong journalists' coverage of the Japan earthquake in March 2011. While research and discussions of journalistic witnessing have primarily focused on eye-witnessing through audio-visual media, this study explores the varieties of journalistic witnessing through a comparison between print and television journalism. This study argues that technological practices, on-site options and constraints, and the journalists' own role conceptions shape whether and how journalistic witnessing is performed. In the case under study, television journalists' emphasis on the notion of presence and the technological practice of live reporting have constrained their capacity to perform as witnesses. In contrast, with their on-site options narrowed by the constraints in the post-disaster environment, print journalists produced a type of quasi-survivor witnessing account based on the sensibilities of being a journalist-traveler from Hong Kong.

Selling Science? - Source struggles, public relations, and UK press coverage of animal–human hybrid embryos

Andy Williams & Slavko Gajevic

Over the last 20 years science news has been written by dwindling numbers of reporters, with higher workloads, and less time than previously to conduct tasks such as finding, researching, and checking news stories. Simultaneously, a growing science communication sector is developing more power to influence what, and how, such news is reported. This paper examines media coverage of animal–human hybrid embryos in the context of a highly efficient public relations campaign by a coalition of scientists and scientific organisations in the United Kingdom. It draws on the findings of a comprehensive content analysis of UK national press coverage of the issue, and 16 semi-structured interviews with specialist science journalists, key news sources, and press officers on both sides of a polarised media debate. We argue that while science communicators won a convincing media victory, the broad (and unintended) effects of such campaigns highlight concerns about media independence, and the openness and quality of public and scientific debate about controversial science.

Public responses and reflexivity during the swine flu pandemic in Australia

Kate Holland & R. Warwick Blood

This paper examines key aspects of the Australian public's response to swine flu through an analysis of interviews and focus groups with people deemed “at risk” by medical authorities. The wider context for the study is provided by risk theory, research on public responses to emerging infectious diseases (EID) and the concept of biocommunicability. We focus on reflexivity in engaging with media, views on the government's response, and vigilance and behaviour change. EID fatigue, a predisposition toward distrusting the media, personal circumstances and location within particular social networks, shaped responses to news reporting of swine flu. People did not link swine flu to already stigmatised groups because they identified it as “resident” in the community. The continuing dependency of lay publics upon governments and expert systems may help to explain the lack of criticism directed at more traditionally powerful groups. Distancing took a variety of forms. While newspapers emphasised the “novel” and “deadly” swine flu narrative, audiences readily described it as just another flu and were unconcerned about contracting it. However, some imagined that others were more vulnerable to the effects of media reporting. Some reported searching the internet for information, which may explain the differences between how they saw it and how it was reported. Also influential was the fact that their lived experiences did not bear out the novelty or seriousness of swine flu. Our discussion is informed by our concurrent analyses of media coverage and interviews with EID experts and journalists involved in the reporting.

Journalistic use of exemplars to humanize health news

Amanda Hinnant, María E. Len-Ríos & Rachel Young

Health journalists often use personal stories to put a “face” on a health issue. This research uses a sociology-of-news approach, based on data collected from 42 in-depth interviews and three surveys with health journalists and editors (national, N=774; state, N=55; and purposive, N=180), to provide a first look at how important journalists think exemplars are to their stories. Results show journalists select exemplars to serve the purposes of informing, connecting, and getting attention. Some of the strategies journalists use to locate exemplars pose ethical concerns. Further, journalists rank the use of exemplars lower in aiding audience understanding compared with the use of experts, data and statistics, and definitions of technical terms.

Zombies, drugs and Florida weirdness - “Imaginative power” and resonance in coverage of Miami's “Causeway Cannibal”

Robert E. Gutsche Jr.

On a steamy May 26, 2012 in Miami, Florida, police officers found Rudy Eugene viciously eating another man's face. Police shot Eugene at least four times, killing him, to stop the attack. Over the next month, the story of the “Causeway Cannibal” (a.k.a. the “Miami Zombie”) fueled debate about what spawned the attack. News explanations included synthetic drugs, cannibalism, Voodoo, and zombies. This textual analysis of immediate news explanations to the attack explores and speculates on why some explanations, such as mental illness, were ignored. By distinguishing between journalistic sensationalism and Ettema's journalistic “imaginative power,” this paper presents possible cultural reasons to explain why news media all but excluded mental illness as a dominant explanation for Eugene's actions.

Racialization of the Virginia Tech Shootings - A comparison of local and national newspapers

Kyle J. Holody, Sung-Yeon Park & Xiaoqun Zhang

This study investigated differences between how local and national newspapers framed race in their coverage of the 2007 Virginia Tech (VT) shootings. The results showed a local newspaper, with geographic and social ties to the VT community, published more stories about the shootings than did national newspapers and continued to publish articles well after the national newspapers had stopped. Further, national newspapers mentioned the shooter's race more often than did the local newspaper, despite having published fewer articles. The results also showed that national newspapers racialized the shooter more often and more prominently than did the local newspaper, but that the two newspaper types did not differ according to the levels of racialization each used (i.e., attributing the crime to the shooter himself rather than attributing it to his race), according to how racialized discussion of the shooting was, or in their use of implicit racialization.

How competitive are the global news networks? - BBC World News and Al Jazeera English reporting of the 2009 Iranian election

Mohd Faizal Kasmani

This article reports findings from a comparative analysis of BBC World News (BBCWN) and Al Jazeera English (AJE) designed to investigate the extent to which competitiveness in the international news market—targeting the global English audience—shapes global news reporting. BBCWN was selected to represent the mainstream Western global media traffic, while AJE represents the contra-flow category of global news media. The 2009 Iranian presidential election is offered as a case study and the reporting by both networks is subject to qualitative discourse analysis. The results are triangulated with interviews with correspondents and editors from BBCWN and AJE. The study concludes that the argument concerning international media competition, which suggests that news networks would place emphasis on gaining audiences to attract advertisers’ interest, is less relevant to the BBCWN and AJE.

Putting memory in its place - Photographic coverage of 9/11 in anniversary editions of impact city newspapers

Bob Britten

The September 11 attacks took place in three distinct locations, yet even more than a decade later, their anniversary is covered far more widely. Studies of anniversary journalism have yet to closely examine the role of place, so this research was built on the question of how the locations of the attacks and their memorials have been visually presented in the news media. Drawing on the concepts of place and collective memory, content analysis was used to investigate anniversary photo usage in each of the major newspapers most proximate to each site—the New York Times, Washington Post, and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette—as well as a non-proximate publication, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The results suggest that newspapers memorialized what happened in “our” place above those of others, even in the absence of geographic ties to the event. This produced two strains of the 9/11 narrative: one in which the physical settings of the attacks were central, and one in which they were peripheral. The implication is that the significance of place may be malleable in anniversary journalism, subordinated to the demands of collective memory.

Values in the news - Comparing the news coverage of political speeches in developed and developing countries

Moniza Waheed, Andreas R. T. Schuck, Peter C. Neijens & Claes H. de Vreese

The presence of values in political speeches and how those values are depicted by journalists in the news are important factors contributing towards the formation of public opinion. A content analysis of online news articles from 10 countries spanning a decade was conducted to investigate these factors and how they differ between developed and developing countries. Combining the Basic Human Values Model with the concept of journalism practices of developed and developing countries, we found that although the top four values were the same for both developed and developing countries, further analysis revealed some significant differences. We also found significant differences in terms of the tone attached to those values which imply that although the journalists of developed and developing countries select similar values, they depict them differently due to the differences in journalism practices in particular parts of the world.


Contents and Abstracts of June 2013

(Vol 14 - No 3)


Shifting Journalistic Capital? Transparency and objectivity in the 21st century

Lea C. Hellmueller, Tim P. Vos and Mark A. Poepsel

This study examines a normative shift from objectivity toward a transparency-oriented journalistic field. US newspaper journalists (N=228) whose work is published online were surveyed to ascertain their adherence to truth-telling strategies of objectivity and transparency. The results suggest that forces unleashed by the online network might be creating pre-paradigmatic conflicts. Moreover, secondary principles divisions (e.g., gender and years of professional experience) indicate potential lines of division in how journalists embrace truth-telling strategies.

Subjectivity and Storytelling In Journalism: Examining expressions of affect, judgement and appreciation in Pulitzer Prize-winning stories

Karin Wahl-Jorgensen

This paper studies the role of subjectivity in the language of award-winning journalism. The paper draws on a content analysis of Pulitzer Prize-winning articles in a range of news categories between 1995 and 2011.The analysis indicates that despite the continued prominence of the ideal of objectivity in scholarly and journalistic debates, award-winning journalistic stories are in fact pervaded by subjective language in the form of what linguists refer to as “appraisals,” as well as the narrative construction of emotive appeals. The subjective language use of award-winning stories, however, does not straightforwardly or consistently undermine claims to objectivity. On that basis, the paper concludes that any binary oppositions between objectivity and subjectivity and, relatedly, emotionality and rationality, may be overly simplistic and obscure the complexities of journalistic story-telling.

Journalists in the German Democratic Republic (GDR): A collective biography

Michael Meyen and Anke Fiedler

The study explores the social background, career stations, working conditions and role-perceptions of journalists in East Germany before the wall came down. Drawing on Bourdieu’s field theory as well as on interviews and memoirs, it uses 121 career paths to construct a collective biography of journalists. The findings show that journalism was, indeed, closely tied to the centre of power. The dominance of the first two generations of journalists within the field even intensified its political significance. While both the founding and the “Aufbau” generation developed a political role perception, the young could quickly switch to Western standards after 1989.

Counterrevolutionary Icons: The Representation of the 1956 ‘Counterrevolution’ in the Hungarian Communist Press

Julia Sonnevend

This article unites theories of framing, collective memory and a sociological concept of icons in order to examine how icons can represent a frame of a historic event over time in journalism. Focusing on the central Hungarian communist daily Népszabadság’s thirty years of coverage of the 1956 Hungarian revolution against the Soviet Union, the article argues that the newspaper - in alliance with the party - constructed iconic persons, iconic objects, and iconic places of what the regime called a ‘counterrevolution.’ These icons as symbolic condensations served as powerful journalistic tools that represented the framing of the event as counterrevolutionary and furthered the regime’s desire to erase the vernacular memory of the revolution. From November 1956 until February 1957 the coverage was inchoate. Thereafter until November 1960 Népszabadság engaged in active icon construction. Népszabadság focused on a few hours of October 30, when protesters murdered several defenders of the Budapest party headquarters. Journalists constructed iconic personalities of this event: the martyrs, their mourning families, the few survivors and also the heroes, who saved lives. Republic Square, where the murders occurred, became the iconic place of the counterrevolution and the victims’ bodies were presented as iconic objects. Thereafter until September 1981 Népszabadság restricted the memory of the event to the already established icons providing only rote coverage of official commemorations. Finally, until November 1986 Népszabadság stressed factual achievements of the government’s victory over the counterrevolution, while the power of icons was fading.

‘Very Shocking News’: Journalism and reporting on a politician’s illness

Kevin Rafter & Steve Knowlton

How the media should deal with information about the health of public figures remains a contentious issue in many countries. Many news outlets subscribe to the view that private lives should remain private unless public trust is broken or when private actions conflict with public positions. Controversy emerges over the exposure of marital infidelities, but it is in the area of health that agreement is hardest to achieve on where the dividing line should be between the public’s right to know and a public figure’s right to privacy. This article deals with the experience in Ireland in late 2009 when the broadcast of information about the health of the country’s Finance Minister became a matter of controversy. The discussion examines this specific case before exploring the wider ethical issues, which have universal applicability.

The Fading Public Voice: The polarizing effect of commercialization on political and other beats and its democratic consequences

Morten Skovsgaard and Arjen van Dalen

The increasing commercialization of media markets in Denmark and abroad have led to concerns about journalism’s role in democracy. In discussions about the influence of budget cuts and increased competition on the way journalists work, the difference between political journalists and other journalists is often disregarded. This paper argues that commercialization has a polarizing effect. It strengthens the political beat at the expense of other beats, as political reporters are cost effective and a way for outlets to brand themselves. Representative surveys among parliamentary reporters and other Danish journalists confirm that commercial pressures affect political journalists less than other journalists, even those working in other prestigious beats. This has negative implications from the viewpoint of participatory democracy; while other journalists emphasize a role as promoters of a citizen perspective, parliamentary journalists see it as their main role to demand accountability rather than responsiveness of politicians.

International TV news, foreign affairs interest and public knowledge: A comparative study of foreign news coverage and public opinion in 11 countries (provisional)

Toril Aalberg, Stylianos Papathanassopoulos, James Curran, Kaori Hayashi, Shanto Iyengar, Paul Jones, Gianpietro Mazzoleni, Hernando Rojas, David Rowe, Stuart Soroka and Rodney Tiffen

This article investigates the volume of foreign news provided by public-service and commercial TV channels in countries with different media systems, and how this corresponds to the public’s interest in and knowledge of foreign affairs. We use content analyses of television newscasts and public opinion surveys in 11 countries across five continents to provide new insight into the supply and demand for international television news. We find that (a) more market-oriented media systems and broadcasters are less devoted to international news, and (b) the international news offered by these commercial broadcasters more often focuses on soft rather than hard news. Furthermore, our results suggest that the foreign news offered by the main TV channels is quite limited in scope, and mainly driven by a combination of national interest and geographic proximity. In sum, our study demonstrates some limitations of foreign news coverage, but results also point to its importance: there is a positive relationship between the amount of hard international news coverage and citizens’ level of foreign affairs knowledge.

Is language a news value in Belgium? A case study of the use of Dutch-language quotes in the French-language TV news

Geert Jacobs and Els Tobback

In today’s globalized and multilingual mediascape the practicalities of inter-language translation have become increasingly relevant in the newsroom and the question has been raised how multilingualism affects journalistic practice. This question seems particularly relevant in Belgium, where the political tension between Dutch-speaking and French-speaking communities has recently dominated the news agenda. In this paper we report on team fieldwork conducted in the TV newsroom of Belgium's French-language public broadcasting corporation RTBF in the spring of 2009. In particular, we will present a case study in which a journalist struggles with the integration of a number of Dutch-language quotes in a news report on the demise of the fashion industry. Our behind-the-scenes analysis, from the storyboard meeting until broadcasting, leads us to question whether the language in which source materials are available can be considered a news value in Belgium. In line with recent calls in media linguistics, our approach is a linguistic ethnographic one, demonstrating the added value of a fine-grained analysis of the discursive processes at the heart of newsmaking routines, one that allows us to revisit news values as decision-making parameters not just in gatekeeping but throughout the news production process.

Biased Interrogations? A multi-methodological approach on bias in election campaign interviews

Mats Ekström, Göran Eriksson, Bengt Johansson and Patrik Wikström

This study, based on Swedish data from three elections (2002, 2006 and 2010) and on a revised version of Clayman’s and Heritage’s (2002b; Clayman et al 2006) conceptualization of aggressive questioning, examines bias in election campaign interviews with leading political figures. In the first part of the study, the prevalence of partisan bias is explored, and this analysis confirms that such bias does not exist. Informed by Conversation Analysis, a limited number of interviews from the 2006 election are investigated in the second part. This analysis also involves questions scripted by journalists, and it compares both quantitatively and qualitatively the differences between the manuscripts and live interaction. The results question the assumption that bias is solely related to journalistic values and actions. The level of aggressiveness in the interviews is also dependent on how the politicians manage the interview questions.

Two sides of the same coin: The role of boundary work and isomorphism in the emergence of financial journalism in Israel (Provisional)

Roei Davidson

This study examines the appearance of a journalistic genre, that of Israeli business journalism, as a means of considering the relationship between the appearance of journalistic genres and the emergence of non-journalistic fields. It does so through two complementary theoretical prisms. On the institutional front, it considers the extent to which isomorphism, the tendency in capitalist systems for organizations and individuals to create similar structures and practices, existed. On the discursive front, the newspapers' founding statements and initial editorials were analyzed to identify the ways in which they attempted to construct boundaries that demarcated a legitimate space for finance. The study finds that isomorphism within journalism twinned with boundary work directed outside at its object of reporting contributed to the emergence of financial journalism. The study also expands the conceptual understanding of boundary work's role not only within the journalistic field but also across institutions.

Notes on Contributors

Contents and Abstracts of April 2013

(Vol 14 - No 2)


Special issue: Cosmopolitanism and the New News Media

Guest Editors: Lilie Chouliaraki and Bolette Blaagaard


Bob Franklin

Cosmopolitanism and the New News Media
Lilie Chouliaraki and Bolette Blaagaard


Online Journalism and Civic Cosmopolitanism: Professional vs. participatory ideals

Peter Dahlgren

Web-based civic participation in democracies, especially in the sprawling domain of alternative politics, continues to grow. In this paper I explore the intersection of two trajectories of such participation: one that takes the form of journalism (broadly understood) and the other that is transnational in character. Participatory journalism unavoidably evokes normative issues that professional journalism has always grappled with. Global activism, in turn, can be analytically framed by the theme of civic cosmopolitanism. My aim is to highlight and juxtapose these two sets of ideals, two normative frameworks for guiding practice in regard to journalism. In the first section I survey the web environment from the standpoint of its enhanced capacity to enable citizens to engage with their societies and the world. Journalistic activity has become a part of this kind of online engagement, and thus normative issues about these practices quickly arise. In the second section, I sketch some of the relevant contours of cosmopolitanism, underscoring the normative themes that it raises. The final section comprises an interface with horizons of civic cosmopolitanism and those of a dilemma-ridden professional journalism; I try to pull the strands together by elucidating the implications that ensue.

Cosmopolitanism as Conformity and Contestation: The mainstream press and radical politics

Natalie Fenton

In this paper I consider the concept of cosmopolitanism in relation to two types of communication systems: the mainstream press and alternative networked communications of new social movements. Through the example of the hacking scandal, the paper discusses how the cosmopolitan ethics of  the ‘freedom of the press’ have become distorted by a thoroughly commercialized tabloid media, to mean little more than freedom of the market to do as it pleases. This is presented as a form of cosmopolitan capitalism via a communication system that is part of a global economy and one that requires new communication policies in order to preserve and promote democratic values over consumerist ones.  The paper then turns to an entirely different form of communications online that seek to establish cosmopolitan solidarity via forms of political democracy that rest on the principle of contestation. The paper suggests that cosmopolitanism invites universalist assumptions that at once deny the particularities of time and space while also being susceptible to the particular hegemonic order of the day and the balances of power in any given context. It is, therefore, always both conformist and contestatory, universal and particular. However, it is through contestation that cosmopolitanism can truly flourish.

Situated, Embodied and Political: Expressions of citizen journalism

Bolette Blaagaard

This article brings together theories of journalistic objectivity and affectivity in order to discuss their relevance in light of the emergence of citizen journalism. The claim of subjectivity and bias in citizen journalism is discussed and an idea of journalistic subjectivity as affectivity is developed. The article discusses ways in which professional journalism is positioned in relation to engaging subjectivity of citizen journalism – as convergence media, as well as independent forms of knowledge and information sharing. The often political affectivity of citizen journalism is discussed in this article and analysed in a short study.

Getting Closer? Encounters of the national media with global images

Mervi Pantti

Drawing on the idea that citizen images of crisis events can function as “ruptures” within mainstream journalistic narratives – instances in which distant others can speak and be heard – this article examines from a dual perspective how the global citizen images (photographs and videos) embedded in Finnish print and broadcast coverage of the Arab uprisings and the Japan tsunami disaster facilitate the construction of cosmopolitan imagination. Specifically it explores, first, how emotional proximity is constructed through the conventions of citizen images that break with the aesthetics of professional photojournalism, and, second, how professional journalists see the role of amateur images in their work of reporting distant crises. The analysis identifies four defining characteristics of the aesthetics of citizen images – unconstructedness, unconventional framing, mobility and embodied collectivity – which may invite enhanced affective engagement and reflection. Moreover, it reveals that the increasing significance of global citizen imagery prompts renewed internal reflection on established journalistic practices and norms, but this is not accompanied by a new consideration on the relationship between journalists and their audiences, on journalism as a resource for cosmopolitan attitudes.

The world is watching: The mediatic structure of cosmopolitanism

Pheng Cheah

The concept of mediation is crucial to the structure of cosmopolitanism understood as a perspective whereby one sees oneself as a member of a world.  This article examines the mediatic structure of cosmopolitanism by discussing two different philosophical models of this structure in Kant’s and Hegel’s philosophies of world history.  It then considers what happens to this structure in contemporary global political economy by looking at a series of news events concerning the People’s Republic of China in 2008 (the riots in Tibet, the Sichuan earthquake and the various events surrounding the Beijing Olympics).  It concludes with some thoughts on the virtualization of power and the role of business journalism, as illustrated by the assessment of U.S. sovereign credit by ratings agencies in 2011.

Journalists Witnessing Disaster: From the calculus of death to the injunction to care

Simon Cottle

This article explores how journalist witnessing in the context of disaster reporting can both sustain as well as distance cosmopolitan views and outlooks. Attending to the professional accounts and testimonies of TV news correspondents and reporters involved in recent disaster reporting, a more complex picture emerges than hitherto of competing journalist practices, professional commitments and personal emotional investments. Journalists today often reproduce recognizable forms of disaster reporting that conform, following their own accounts, to a narrowly conceived, geo-politically informed and essentially amoral journalistic outlook – an entrenched “calculus of death” rooted in a particularistic national prism and inimical to cosmopolitan ideas and sentiments. But so also do their accounts and practices sometimes speak to a more expansive, universally inflected and morally infused journalist form of witnessing. Here journalists purposefully craft and inscribe their news reports with a thinly veiled but transparent “injunction to care.”  This article addresses this seeming antinomy in the contemporary world of disaster reporting and considers how journalist practices may now be contributing to wider cultural currents of cosmopolitanism.

Humanitarian Campaigns in Social Media: Network architectures and polymedia events

Mirca Madianou

Social media and social networking sites (SNS) in particular have become popular in current humanitarian campaigns. This article assesses the optimism surrounding the opportunities that SNS communication offers for humanitarian action and for the cultivation of cosmopolitan sensibilities. In order to evaluate the mediation of suffering and humanitarian causes through social media I argue that we need to understand the architectures of social media and social networking sites in addition to analysing the content of the campaigns drawing on the literature on humanitarian communication. Focusing on the analysis of two humanitarian campaigns through social media, the phenomenally popular and controversial Kony 2012 campaign and WaterForward, the article observes that the architectures of SNS orientate action at a communitarian level which heightens their post-humanitarian style (Chouliaraki, 2010). However, an emerging new genre of reporting and commenting which is termed ‘polymedia events’ can potentially extend beyond the limitations of SNS communication by opening up the space for reflexivity and dialogical imagination.

Remediation, Inter-mediation, Transmediation: The cosmopolitan trajectories of convergent journalism

Lilie Chouliaraki

This article draws on performativity theory in order to analyse convergent journalism as a form of journalism that privileges the civil disposition of 'I have a voice', or citizen-driven acts of deliberating and witnessing over the professional act of informing. Whilst this shift in the epistemology of the news from the truth of institutional expertise to the truth of ordinary voice has been welcome as a democratisation of journalism, catalysing processes of recognition that may cosmopolitanise the West, I advocate a more cautious, empirically-grounded approach that attends to variations in convergence reporting. The potential for cosmopolitan solidarity inherent in convergent journalism, I argue, lies with the insertion of ordinary voice in a broader structure of Western journalism that challenges existing hierarchies of place and human life and thus enables the disposition of 'I have a voice' to go beyond communitarian recognition - the recognition of people like 'us' - towards recognising the voice of distant others, too, as a voice worth listening and responding to.


Book Reviews

Notes on Contributors

Contents and Abstracts of February 2013

(Vol 14 - No 1)



“Vicious Assault Shakes Texas Town”: The politics of gender violence in The New York Times’ coverage of a schoolgirl’s gang rape

Meenakshi Gigi Durham

In March 2011, The New York Times reported the serial gang rape of a schoolgirl in the small town of Cleveland, Texas. Responses to the story were swift and damning: bloggers and commentators quickly identified the patriarchal and victim-blaming aspects of The Times’ coverage, resulting in an influential petition and an apology from The Times. This study employs critical textual analysis to interrogate the critical responses to The Times story. The analysis reveals that commentators recognized misogynist bias in The Times’ reporter’s use of sources and quotes, the lexical structures in the text, and the strategic elision of race as a “present absence” in the news article. This analysis concludes that in channeling feminist conceptual tropes, the bloggers and commentators engaged in feminist praxis, raising awareness of patriarchal frames for sexual violence as well as galvanizing progressive action. But the study also points to a continued need for vigilance and feminist activism around sexual violence and child abuse.

When News Hurts: The promise of participatory storytelling for urban problem neighbourhoods

Irene Costera Meijer

A content analysis of more than 3400 news items published in national and regional Dutch (quality) newspapers, in combination with ethnographic audience and production research, has allowed us to explain when, how and why news can hurt. A longitudinal ethnographic case study of two highly mediatized urban areas shows how residents claim to lose touch with everyday reality as a result of continuous one-dimensional and sensationalized news coverage of their neighbourhood. This case study also illuminates how participatory media enable residents to negotiate, make sense of and give meaning to alternative, more ‘realistic’ readings of everyday life. Finally, the research suggests how professional journalistic routines might have to change in order to prevent news from being unnecessarily painful: from citizen participation to citizen facilitation, from an accent on negative news and a critical tone of voice to doing justice to the multilayered reality of neighborhoods, from a focus on extraordinary events to explaining everyday occurrences.

Who’s Reporting the Protests? Converging practices of citizen journalists and two BBC World Service newsrooms, from Iran’s election protests to the Arab uprisings

Maximillian T. Hänska-Ahy and Roxanna Shapour

The 2009 protests in Iran and the 2011 Arab uprisings took place in complex and fast evolving media ecologies. The BBC’s Persian and Arabic language services, which reach millions, drew heavily on content created by ordinary citizens to cover events. This paper traces the flow of this content through the news process to examine how collaboration between newsrooms and citizen journalists changed from 2009 to 2011. The article argues that participation in the news process hinges on the congruence between newsroom practices, and the practices of those producing content on the streets. Such congruence requires mutual knowledge of broadcasting requirements. It finds that by 2011 journalists felt more comfortable and effective integrating user generated content (UGC) into their news output. Importantly, UGC creators appear to have taken on board the broadcaster’s editorial requirements, making them savvier content creators.

Context Matters: What interviews with news subjects can tell us about accuracy and error

Ruth Palmer

Part of a larger study about the experiences of private citizens who suddenly find themselves in the news, this paper addresses one aspect of that experience: how people feel about errors in the stories in which they were named. The study is based on in-depth interviews with 64 individuals who were named in newspaper articles in the New York area and a mid-sized city in the Southwestern United States. As in past, survey-based studies, findings indicate subjects are often quick to dismiss many inaccuracies. But it also emerges that for many subjects other aspects of the experience of being in the news matter more than the strict accuracy of the article, and that circumstances surrounding an article’s publication influence error perception. The paper discusses four features common to subjects' encounters with the press that have bearing on how they interpret an article’s content in general, and errors in particular: the newsworthy events themselves, subjects’ objectives, subjects’ expectations, and the feedback they receive from others.

Excellent but Gullible People: The press and the People’s Convention

Tim Luckhurst

The convocation of the People’s Convention in January 1941 by the Communist Party of Great Britain presented Britain’s newspapers with an opportunity to demonstrate their integrity according to liberal ideals. Accurate reporting of the Convention could inform the public sphere about issues of concern during a period of intense hardship, but it risked promoting revolutionary defeatism. The findings of a content analysis of a structured sample of newspapers suggests journalism offered news and comment sufficient to assist the formation of a genuine public opinion. Newspapers demonstrated their freedom from policy censorship. Editors who believed the Convention’s programme addressed issues of particular importance to their readers spoke truth to power.

Online Journalism in Social Transformations: A community structure approach

Elaine Yuan

This framing and discourse analysis documents the news coverage of a fire in Shanghai by the Chinese press, represented by a party-organ newspaper and three metro dailies. The findings illustrate the way commercial metro dailies side with their urban civic-minded readers to create an alternative news discourse that differs from that of the party journalism in China. The discourse analysis provides an empirical illustration of a new constructionist approach to community structural analysis. The interaction between the press and the online public, and the convergence of news production and consumption processes, have essentially changed the news framing process. This signifies a shift of the journalist paradigm towards a participatory model in the contemporary Chinese news environment.

How Journalists Think About Facts: Theorizing the social conditions behind epistemological beliefs

Yigal Godler and Zvi Reich

Journalists’ ability to capture anddeliver factual information is central to their sense of professionalism and to their societal and democratic functions. The need to understand journalists’ dealings with facts becomes especially pronounced in an age when news organizations face an economic crisis and journalism’s exclusive jurisdiction over the supply of news information is challenged by new and old forces. This study – part of the “Worlds of Journalism” research project – attempts to analyze fact-related beliefs among 1800 journalists from 18 different countries, and test their associations with a wealth of individual, cultural and organizational variables. The study draws on a rich reservoir of data from diverse regimes, institutional and national backgrounds, types of news organizations, ownership and media, as well as different genders, years of journalism experience, education and seniority.Our research appears to be well placed to evaluate journalists' degree of awareness to the challenges of reality depiction, and to outline through quantitative methods the social conditions which promote epistemological naivety in the form of objectivism, and sophistication as expressed in interpretationist epistemologies. Our findings indicate that conditions of ownership, nature of the political regime, personal beliefs and social environment, produce variance in journalists’ takes on reality depiction.

The News Triumvirate: Public relations, wire agencies and online copy

Susan Forde and Jane Johnston

News agencies, or wire services, are playing a growing role in the contemporary news environment, primarily due to the prevalence of the 24/7 online newsroom and its associated need for speed and volumes of copy (Johnston and Forde, 2009; 2011; Paterson 2006; Lewis 2008a and 2008b). At the same time press releases and other public relations generated material daily flood the news environment (MacNamara2001; Bacon, Taylor and Pavey 2010; Lewis et al 2008a). This paper builds on research into these two fields, trialing a new methodology—one which follows press releases and other public relations material through the uptake by news agencies, in particular the Australian Associated Press, and finally, as published stories in metropolitan online newspapers. While previous research has tracked press releases and news agency copy individually, this study is significant because it follows the three distinct phases in the news cycle and determines how the news agency—the most pervasive and trusted news source—can become the de facto distributor of public relations material. It grounds the study in the work of political economists, who have endeavoured since the 1970s to explain the dwindling quality and quantity of good journalism in leading democracies. This work sets the foundations for a larger study into the production of news in contemporary media environments.


Research Review:
JMG: Journalism Research at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
Monika Djerf-Pierre and Mats Ekström

Book Reviews

Notes on Contributors