It is often said that journalism has long been in crisis. What is qualitatively new? The relationship between the politically powerful, who have sought to control the narrative, and those whose business is to relay it, has always been fraught, if not downright conflictual.
To think about: how are journalists to do the job of representation in a world of cultural diversity and migration? How is the journalist to be distinguished from the others who distribute information that has a bearing on politics?
Key concepts: objectivity, bias, professionalism
Further reading: overviews • global journalism and foreign correspondents • global and other crisis reporting • journalism • media representation and cultural diversity • journalists and technological change
Many journalists have published memoirs or narratives about a particular experience, and these can be useful sources of insight, and antidotes, in some cases, to scholarly theories about news values. An excellent example is Katie Adie’s The Kindness of Strangers (2002).
Other primary source materials are (as mentioned in Chapter 4) the motivations of the juries, over time, of the World Press Photo Awards, and the winning photographs themselves. These can be found on the award’s website.
Other primary sources that can be used for research on the perspective of media actors include documents (policies, press releases, reports) from organizations such as the European Broadcasters Union (EBU) and journalist federation around the world.
News content itself is a great, and easily accessible, primary source, which can be studied using any one of a number of methods, such as framing analysis. The book entitled Doing News Framing Analysis: Empirical and Theoretical Perspectives by Paul D’Angelo and Jim Kuyper (Taylor & Francis 2010) is a useful guide.
Hanitzsch and Mellado (2011: 408), whose research was reviewed in Chapter 4, reasoned as follows: “If there is such a thing as global homogenization of news work, we would then expect organizational, professional and procedural influences, as well as the influence of reference groups, to be perceived of relatively similar importance across the countries”. Using this expectation as a point of departure, a research project could be designed around the question: does that apply to the country I live, or work, or study in? Larsen studied how programme directors and the CEOs of news organizations portray the public service mission discursively “and the institutional reflexivity that is communicated through the institutions’ official documents” (Larsen 2010: 269). This was done by combining insights from policy documents with how CEOs talk about their mission - an approach that could be replicated in countries outside the Nordic region. Interviews and surveys can also be used to access differences in values, and thus role perceptions. Data can be generated by asking journalists (or, as Sanders et.al. 2008, journalism students) what their background is, why they chose to become a journalist, and what kind, and what there views are on news media role and ethics. Answers can be solicited by telephone, e-mail, survey monkey.