More than half of journalists say the public does not understand what an anonymous source is, or understand the First Amendment rights of the press. Journalists are particularly skeptical that the public knows how they gather information for a story or about the editing process. The use of anonymous sources has been complicated and controversial for years. Support for anonymous sources has been tracked in surveys by Gallup, Pew, and others. We wanted to go deeper and see what people understand about what journalists are doing with these sources.
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By and large, the result here is more affirming than many journalists expected. A slight majority of the public understands anonymous sourcing. Still, a sizable number of people are confused.
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Another 17 percent think journalists get information from people whose identities are unknown to them, confirm what they are told, and then publish that. We also went one step further and asked people how well news organizations explain all of this — at least for those respondents who identified by name a news organization they rely on heavily. Only a little more than a third of people, 35 percent, say their favored news organization does a good job very or extremely well explaining its use of anonymous sources.
These latest results suggest that while some news organizations try to offer more information about using unnamed sources than they once did, they have quite a distance to go in making that practice clear to people — which strikes us as a basic precondition before you can even get to the issue of whether people approve of the practice. Anonymous sourcing is also related to another area where there may be significant confusion between what journalists do and what the public perceives — fake news.
But more recently, President Trump began using the term to mean a variety of things, including stories that he considered unfair or too critical. To understand what people think fake news is, we asked them to choose among several definitions of the term. Given that a term could mean more than one thing, we offered them the opportunity to select any of the definitions that they think describe fake news. We found many people now ascribe multiple meanings to the term. A smaller proportion of people 43 percent think fake news refers to news organizations making sloppy mistakes. Just 25 percent call satire or comedy about current events fake news.
There are also notable differences across several demographic groups in what constitutes fake news. For example, a majority — 52 percent — of those who approve of the president indicate that news stories from real organizations that are unfair or sloppy constitute fake news, compared to 38 percent of those who disapprove of the president. Finally, supporters of Trump are more likely than those who disapprove of him to say satire or comedy about current events is fake news 31 percent vs.
All this, however, is largely a matter of terminology. How much do people worry about each of these possible forms of fake news? Fully half 50 percent of people who define fake news as real news organizations making things up believe that it is a major problem for the media today, and 33 percent consider it a minor problem. As Anderson et al.
Scholars and educators tend to respond to this shift in two ways. One is to rally the troops, close ranks, and put significant effort in bringing coherence and stability back to the field. This gets established by producing impressive handbooks, canonical anthologies, readers, and companion volumes and corresponding special issues of scholarly journals and conferences.
Empirical approaches in this tradition center on comprehensive surveys and content analyses of journalists and journalism based on narrow definitions of the news industry offering conclusions about what journalism does and who journalists are see Hanitzsch et al. A second trend in the field is to dive, head first, into the chaos. This proves to be an often exciting and bewildering experience, leading to a wide variety of studies and conceptualizations of journalism in a post-industrial era, often featuring particularistic work on emerging genres, formats, and types of journalism.
In this intervention, we bring together these approaches in a dialectic attempt to move beyond journalism, allowing for a broader definition and understanding of the field. We critically interrogate first the normative expectations of what journalism should be and do according to dominant conceptualizations of the profession. Newsrooms and newswork are part of a profession that can best be seen as a self-organizing social system through which shifting coalitions of participants are linked, and that is interdependent on a variety of other systems such as sales, marketing, design, programming and coding, publishing, and distribution services.
It is also a field with a distinct materiality of praxis Sartre, : 79 — as what journalism is and what journalists do cannot be meaningfully separated from their material context cf. In the concluding section, we push for an ontology of journalism beyond individuals and institutions.
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Students and scholars coming from a wide variety of disciplines have researched and theorized journalism, resulting in a more or less coherent conceptualization of what journalism is Zelizer, The general approach to understanding, studying, teaching, and practicing journalism articulates the profession with a specific occupational ideology and culture. Journalists tend to benchmark their actions and attitudes self-referentially using ideal-typical standards, seeing themselves as providing a public service; being objective, fair, and therefore trustworthy; working autonomously, committed to an operational logic of actuality and speed preeminent in concepts such as reporting on breaking news, getting the story first ; and having a social responsibility and ethical sensibility Deuze, This conceptualization is still strong within the field today and seems to endure even in the midst of profound changes and challenges to the profession.
Through the occupational ideology of journalism, we can define the field from the inside out, helping us to understand how the profession makes sense of itself. From this point of departure, the literature diverges, one strand embracing universalist notions of journalism, showing how it gives meaning to itself in its culture — where culture is seen as the way in which a particular group i. Surveys of and interviews with journalists, almost always sampled from within legacy news organizations, fuel such claims by asking journalists a set of standardized questions about role perceptions and professional values.
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While popular, there is also much critical debate both among newsworkers and journalism students and scholars about an assumed homogeneity of the profession. The discussion on the elements of journalism Kovach and Rosenstiel, tends to assume a more or less stable core of news values and professional standards.
The consolidation of journalism studies in the literature mainly serves the modern project of bringing an inherently unruly object under control Steensen and Ahva, : 3. It is crucial to recognize that the supposed core of journalism as well as the assumed consistency of the inner workings of news organizations is anything but consensual, nor is it necessarily the norm.
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At the same time, it would be a mistake to assume that the types of journalism emerging outside and alongside legacy news organizations are necessarily different or oppositional to the core values, ideals, and practices of the profession. We have to revisit the question of what journalism is for conceptual considerations — the normative construction of journalism through ideology and culture as reinforced in both scholarly work and professional publications — and practical propriety — given the increasingly fragmented, networked, and atypical nature of the labor market for newswork.
When answering this question, theory needs to move beyond the limitations framing this discussion: An overreliance on journalism as an inherently stable institution, distinct from other social systems, and beyond its validation as uniquely necessary for democracy. These notions, however important, have over-extended their shelf life Zelizer, Until recently, the participation of journalists in the discursive construction of journalism was governed by being employed in or as a student, intern, or scholar: Observing a newsroom.
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The newsroom was the dominant form of employment and organization of work in journalism throughout the 20th century. This arrangement served to stabilize the industry, going hand in hand with the shaping of consensual practices in journalism studies and education. The newsroom was the site to be a journalist, to be recognized as such, and scholars validated this process by pursuing empirical approaches dedicated to newsrooms and the newswork therein. This is not simply an operational problem in the current climate of newswork destabilization.
Our critique is more fundamental: Throughout its history, scholars of journalism and the news have supported the dominance of certain interpretations of the role of journalism by focusing on specific institutional arrangements within particular privileged settings. As Karin Wahl-Jorgensen puts it, the newsroom-centricity in journalism studies has meant that. The scholarly consensus on professional routines that make up newswork in newsrooms has been consolidated in journalism education where such routines become fixed elements in the coursework for print, broadcast, and online sequences. What is more, even within newsroom-centered research, scholars have privileged print over other media, further limiting the range of understanding and definition of journalism.
Moreover, the scholarly focus on elite, prestige, and glamorous institutions located in large cities of the capitalist Western world serves to solidify such places as the only ones deemed worthy of a voice to articulate what is journalism and who counts as a journalist Nerone, As much of newsgathering, editing, and packaging take place elsewhere, outside of the newsroom, and with organizations virtualizing their workflow delegating work to stringers and correspondents on the road, Wahl-Jorgensen notes how the newsroom is disappearing.
The more or less formal and professional arrangement of journalism requires an awareness of the inhabited nature Hallett and Ventresca, of the spaces where newswork takes place. The newsroom as an inhabited institution, on one hand, provides the raw materials and guidelines for the way people work, and on the other hand, the various people moving in and out of the newsroom through their interactions produce the institution, putting it into motion. The point is not to say that contemporary news institutions are inhabited, and those in the past were not.
The roles of institutions in newswork are dynamic and changing, opening our eyes to movement rather than stability, to what journalism becomes rather than what journalism is Deuze and Witschge, If we assume for a moment that in some ways the newsroom is still important and key to understanding what contemporary journalism is, what would we in fact see inside one located in a legacy media organization? For one, we would observe a lot of empty chairs.
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The number of layoffs in journalism — especially in print — has been nothing but astounding over the last decade. Of the people who are left in the newsroom proper, some still enjoy permanent employment including benefits and protections. These, generally senior, staffers work side by side with a host of colleagues in part-time, contract, freelance, temporary, casual, and at times underpaid or unpaid roles: Practitioners who come in irregularly to file stories, produce segments, push stories online, or provide other editorial services Cohen, : Not only are these contractual working arrangements of newsroom colleagues under-represented in discussions of the profession about itself and, subsequently, in surveys and ethnographies of news organizations, but also the myriad of additional functions in the newsroom ranging from technical support staff, copy editors, ombudsmen and reader representatives, designers, producers, and programmers are often left out of the conversation.
In recent years, however, such functions have multiplied in the newsroom with the emergence of new roles and positions, and they are increasingly important in shaping the practice, output, and distribution of journalism Bakker, Permanent jobs are scarce, and generally unpaid internships and other forms of free or underpaid labor now determine access — as in other cultural industries Hesmondhalgh and Baker, All this is accompanied by rising cost of entry into journalism: A trade school diploma is a bare minimum — for jobs in the national quality news media, in practice a high-level university education is required.
Student grants have been cut, their duration shortened, or they have been converted into loans. The majority of newcomers in the profession start as a self-employed journalist. Tariffs for freelancer journalists have declined over the past decade. Given the stable market and state-subsidized media system of The Netherlands, we would venture that this situation is the same, if not more precarious for professionals in other developed nations. We need to consider how changes in the way in which newswork is organized do not only affect news as an institution but also impact individual careers.
Peterson and Anand suggested that careers in this fragmenting and flexibilizing industry tend to follow two different paths. The first is a top-down career, largely established through lifelong participation in vertically structured institutions, where seniority, experience, and a transparent system of salaries guide the professional toward higher positions in the office hierarchy, resulting in more or less permanent positions within the newsroom. Newsrooms are still creating positions, yet often these are temporary structures designed as more or less informal internships, often with little or no pay.
Moreover, the new jobs that are available in journalism tend to be in the digital area and in numbers do not make up for layoffs elsewhere in organizations Deuze and Fortunati, With the accelerating dynamic of reorganizations and reshuffling, buyouts and layoffs, new owners and managers, new work arrangements and budget cuts, journalism has become more precarious and less accessible to everyone. In fact, if we put it provocatively, it increasingly seems to be the playing field of only those who can afford to work for years or even for the majority of their careers below or around the minimum wage in the largest and therefore most expensive cities, as that is where the main news outfits as well as most hyperlocal companies and news startups are generally located.
Although exclusivity of industry access is not new, it tends to be overlooked.
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