Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

The Journalist - Information Sources Relational Organization: Essence and Objectives

Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

The Journalist - Information Sources Relational Organization: Essence and Objectives

Article excerpt

The capacity of establishing informational contacts is an important quality in journalism, the more so that the pluridimensional character of daily reality imposes a complex approach, both from the perspective of the various social, political, economic factors involved, which act concomitantly and transactionally, and from that of the institutions coordinating the evolution of diverse contemporary processes, events, phenomena, and assuring their management. Mass-media treat daily events from several perspectives, laying stress on different aspects of theirs, while the information sources traditionally employed by press are quite varied, being always in direct or tangential relation with the topic under discussion.

To meet their ends, journalists should build up and use a most diverse network of information sources, for example: official and non-official, primary and secondary, direct and indirect, internal and external, physical and human, confidential, anonymous, etc., while the relationing techniques established by journalists with them differ according to their nature. The diversity of sources, their importance for press materials, the soundness and credibility of the information provided, the extent of their involvement and the interests manifested in relation with the issues under analysis - all these outline different patterns of journalistic behaviors. For each of the above-mentioned categories of sources, journalists display various types of behavior, the treatment of the information received being also different, mainly from the perspective of its credibility.

As known, no general method for gathering information is available in journalism or, documentation, direct observation, the interview - as stages of the process of collecting information - differ from one case to another, depending on the type of event described, as well as on the general training level, knowledge of the issue, style and professional ability of the journalist. The documentation methods are also different, referring mainly to the form of expression and type of material prepared for publication, as well as to the temporal parameter of the event. In cases of unexpected, casual events, documentation is rapidly done, the journalist being entitled to use reserve-sources. "Hot" events require more rapid reflection abilities, leaving no space for a well-grounded documentation. An insufficient documentation renders the journalist more active, more insistent during the very occurrence of the event, for fully exploiting the methods of direct observation and of the interview, applied on the spot.

Relational organization is performed according to the classical scheme of target definition. The target-sources of the journalists may be:

- Social individuals and social groups appearing as main or supporting actors of the event or phenomenon;

- Decisional factors responsible for the adoptation of the decisions and laws, for the elaboration of the policies, strategies, plans of social-political and economic actions, etc.;

- The central or local public administration responsible for the practical application of the decisions and realization of the national policies, programs, projects;

- Representatives of civil society;

- National and international experts.

The journalist - information source relation is based on the reciprocal confidence between these two actors. The confidence of the source in the fairness of the journalist gets formed in time, constituting a condition for his success. "Gradually, the sources will learn to trust you", so that "the habit of calling or of visiting them on a regular basis, when this is possible, appears as an important practice, similar to that of not disturbing for no reason" (KEEBLE, 2009). The relations established by journalists in their work of approaching reality require various types of professional conduct, directly influenced by the type of sources employed. From this perspective, the relations of journalists with their sources may be symbolically divided into: official and non-official ones. …

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