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Lecture 3 News organisations and the journalist 12 October 2010.

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1 Lecture 3 News organisations and the journalist 12 October 2010

2 What shapes the relationship between the individual journalist and the news organisation? Gatekeeping Professionalism News Organisations Journalistic Routines

3 Gatekeeping Gatekeeping Theory describes the powerful process through which events are covered by the mass media, explaining how and why certain information either passes through gates, or is closed off from media attention. Even single, seemingly trivial gatekeeping decisions it has been argued, can come together to shape an audiences view of the world (i.e news has power..?).

4 Belief in the power of the individual: early gatekeeper studies In 1949 David Manning White undertook research centred on the role of an individual wire editor Mr Gates in press newsroom in the USA. White found the decision making process to be 'highly subjective'.

5 Gatekeeper Studies Later studies by Pamela Shoemaker argued that the individual isnt the only gatekeeper – the whole organisation works together to act as a gatekeeper

6 Gatekeeping McQuail defines gatekeeping as the process by which selections are made in media work, especially decisions whether or not to admit a particular news story to pass through the gates of a news medium into the news channels (1994: 213).

7 21 st Century Challenges to Gatekeeping Theory The effectiveness of gatekeeping has been questioned from a number of perspectives: increasingly the practice of journalism is seen to be being contaminated from outside. The fourth estate is in danger of being overwhelmed by the fifth estate, the growing number of PR merchants and spin doctors influencing the news agenda and undermining the reliability of the gatekeeping process itself.

8 Challenges to traditional gatekeeping theory Reporting speed required of news services has also increased steadily, This has made gatekeepers even more likely to rely on prepared material from this fifth estate rather than spending time and money on their own, independent research

9 Challenges to traditional gatekeeping theory Development of the WWW has meant that news consumers are now far less reliant on what passes through the gates of the mainstream news organisations. They can bypass these altogether and turn directly to first-hand information providers; further, such information providers now also often include news consumers themselves.

10 Professionalism Professionalism Professionalism allows a balancing act to occur between:- 1) the needs of the organisation (not to be sued, provide news that is appealing to the audiences, on time, on message, within the law, objective/unbiaised etc). 2) the need for journalists to have editorial freedom when reporting, selecting and editing news stories.

11 Professional competences

12 What is a profession? A profession is an occupation, vocation or career where Specialized knowledge of a subject, field, or science is applied. It is usually applied to occupations that involve prolonged academic training and a formal qualification. Professional activity involves systematic knowledge and proficiency. Professions are usually regulated by professional bodies that may set examinations of competence, act as an Licensing authority for practitioners, and enforce adherence to an ethical code of practice.

13 Challenges to Professionalism: Journalist – the detached observer Citizen Journalist – the observer who is involved

14 Understanding News Organisations We can look at a variety of elements 1) Their structure 2) Controls and constraints on the organisation 3) Their goals 4) Ownership 5) Organisational Culture 6) Newsroom cultures and structures

15 Organisations are complex Most organisations have mixed goals and rarely are they all openly stated. In organisational theory, a differentiation is often made between utilitarian and normative organisations. The utilitarian organisation aims to produce or provide material goods or services for financial ends. Whilst the normative organisation aims to advance some value or achieve a valued condition (i.e. the BBC – based on voluntary commitment of its participants).

16 Challenges to understanding news organisations The question of control: Transparent Newsroom YQMCg&feature=player_embedded

17 Challenges to understanding news organisations: No longer focussed on single medium. five-newsrooms-that-hl-mencken- wouldnt-recognize/

18 News Organisations How does the organisation control the journalist? a) Social control in the newsroom b) The role of conflict c) Constraints d) Enculturalisation

19 Warren Breed (1955) - control in the newsroom Journalists copy their organisations techniques and styles. Editorial blue pencilling Reprimands Get to know why their stories dont get on air Newsroom gossip News conference or morning meeting Codes of practice

20 Warren Breed - why journalists conform Warren Breed - why journalists conform Fear of sanctions and authority Feelings of obligation and esteem for superiors (varies between different news organisations). Acceptance of news policy Pleasant nature of the job Getting the news is a primary value in itself

21 Journalists go through three stages according to Warren Breed 1) Cub stage 2) Wiring in stage 3) Veteran or Star stage

22 Charles Bantz (1985)– Conflict is a normal part of newsroom practice a) Journalistic distrust b) Conflicts between professional norms and business norms c) Conflicts between professional norms and entertainment norms d) Controlled competition

23 John Soloski (1989) – Constraints on journalists 1) Editorial meetings 2) Assignments 3) Reprimands and criticism 4) Supervision

24 How and why do journalists conform? Sometimes this is called socialisation

25 Journalistic routines? Habits are automatic routines of behavior that are repeated regularly, without thinking about them too carefully – seem common-sensical. They are learned, not instinctive.learned The person may not be conscious or aware of some routines of behaviour.

26 Routines have a purpose They are event-taming Journalists assimilate the new and unprecedented into familiar ways of understanding the world.

27 What are Professional Routines Story structure Schemes of interpretation – the routine relationship with sources (Fishman in Berkowitz) The news beat and the news net Categorisation of news (Tuchman in Berkowitz) Planning Routine constraints of time, space, resources, logistics, luck, codes, laws etc. Relationship with the audience Routine construction of story narratives Strategic ritual of objectivity

28 Whats the problem? Nick Davies Flat Earth News - journalists accept ways of doing things as natural, inevitable (PR/Agencies/pre-prepared material – churnalism argument)

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