Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Journalism and Political Exclusion: Social Conditions of News Production and Reception

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Journalism and Political Exclusion: Social Conditions of News Production and Reception

Article excerpt

Debra M. Clarke, Journalism and Political Exclusion: Social Conditions of News Production and Reception (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2014), 376 pp. 7 tables. Cased. $110. ISBN 978-0-7735-4281-5. Paper. $34.95. ISBN 978-0-7735-4282-2.

The heart of this book, and what distinguishes it, is the research the author conducted 'in a medium-sized central Canadian city' (p. 135) on how audiences in Canada respond to television news broadcasts and other journalistic sources of information. The fieldwork involved household interviews, news diaries, and questionnaires. The results suggest that for many viewers across class, age, and gender boundaries, television news does not offer enough in-depth information about Canada and the world beyond, is too focused on daily events and too dependent on official sources; furthermore, the working class is seriously under-represented. Paradoxically, however, most of Clarke's interviewees felt themselves to be reasonably well informed by the news sources available to them! This finding she describes as 'unanticipated' (p. 180). And she puts it down to 'an ultimate conformity with the hegemonic cycles of daily news production and reception' (p. 181).

As that comment indicates, Clarke does not have a high regard for the current contribution of broadcasting and the press in Canada to stimulating informed democratic participation. Nor does she believe that the news available on the internet remedies the deficiency, not least because much of that news is ultimately derived from the same traditional sources. Clarke takes the view that scholars like herself should 'explore questions such as how and why contemporary journalism fails to enlighten the impoverished and the oppressed' (p. …

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