I’m very happy to begin my research stay at the Università degli Studi di Milano (Italia).
During June and July 2018 I will work with Sergio Splendore in our project “Journalism in Mediterranean and Latin American countries: So far so close”:
This study uses the impressive data collected by the Worlds of Journalism Study Network, comparing journalist’s role perceptions in France, Italy, Portugal, and Spain – for the Mediterranean countries – and Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Mexico – for Latin America – to better understand the possible similarities and differences between the two regions. The samples used represented the population of journalists in each country. To identify journalistic populations, the consortium considered journalists all professional actors occupied full time or almost full time with the collection, description, and publication of relevant information in journalistic media.
The work aim is twofold: firstly, descriptively studying which kind of role perceptions those different journalist cultures seem to embrace. For this study, we follow the most recent and established literature on the field as Hanitzsch (2011), Hanusch & Hanitzsch (2017), Berganza et al. (2017), Oller et al. (2017), among others. Hanitzsch and Vos (2017) summarize the wealth of studies on journalistic roles in four different perspectives: regard to normative ideas (what journalists should do), cognitive orientations (what they want to do), professional practice (what journalists really do), and narrated performance (what they say they do). We focus on cognitive orientations, about what journalists want to do (or at least, what they say they want to do), and even more precisely, what they say to do via a pre-filled questionnaire. For the nature of the data, we cannot discuss any other relation but that one. Therefore, this work analyses four different roles perceptions: the “monitorial”, the “interventionist”, the “collaborative” and the “populist” role. The monitorial role refers to the journalists’ importance of the role of providing political information, monitoring politics and business, and motivate people to participate in politics. The interventionist role also assigns an active role to the journalist, as they are found to advocate for social change, influence public opinion and set the political agenda, and support national development. In the collaborative role, journalists find it of importance to be close to politicians, as they support government policy and generally convey a positive image of political leaders. The last role takes business factors into consideration, as it is important for the populist role to provide news that attract the largest audience, as well as provide entertainment and relaxation and advice, orientation, and direction for daily life.
For a correct understanding of the professional roles of journalists, secondly, we analyse the combination of role perceptions and countries in terms of journalistic autonomy. Journalists’ autonomy is one of the most important and frequent issue within journalism studies. As John Merrill (1974) has argued autonomy in journalism is also linked to the idea of authentic journalism. Nevertheless, a hallmark of professionalism around the world, autonomy’s core insistence is that of self-rule without interference; it works on the collective level to create a normative bulwark against interference from external influences (Carlson, 2017). The study therefore investigates which variables appear to be influent on the journalists’ perception of autonomy. Following Hughes et al. (2016), we argue that editorial autonomy is situational, contextually dependent, and historically contingent, but that a comparative effort as the one we are proposing could underline some of those contingencies. The overall results suggest that the autonomy perceived by journalists appear to be linked both to macro level (Freedom of the Press Index, Corruption – CPI indexes) and micro leve (e.g.: exactly which perceptions journalists keep of their profession).