A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies

By Klaus Bruhn Jensen | Go to book overview

5

The production of news

Gaye Tuchman
• a description of early functionalist production research
• a comparison of three separate traditions in subsequent studies of news production
• a review of recent developments within U.S. news media
• an assessment of the ability of the three research traditions in combination to account for current developments of news media.

Contemporary approaches to research on the production of news can be read as a reaction to those functionalist models of the mass media which were dominant in the mid-twentieth century, particularly in the U.S.A., but also in other societies that were then embracing aspects of a dominant American culture (Lemert 1993). Some current research has drawn its theories from political economy, others from symbolic interactionism - two traditions focusing respectively on the entire social system and on the interactions among and between individuals and institutions, what sociologists refer to as macro- and micro-theories.1 Still others have examined news as a cultural form with particular ideological implications. Despite their common rejection of structural functionalism,2 however, these traditions have yet to be integrated in a satisfactory fashion. There is some irony in this, because the functional models at least claimed to have integrated micro- and macro-analysis. This chapter takes stock of news production studies with reference to ongoing changes within the media system itself. These changes may once again force research to reconsider its premises and procedures (see also Cottle 2000), and to explore ways of integrating the several traditions in the area in future empirical practice.

Following a characterization of the early functionalist models, this chapter reviews some of the main contributions to news production research since the 1950s. A key point of later studies has been that journalists and other newsworkers do not merely select and combine information; rather they can be seen to literally ‘produce’ the news in the context of organizational and other social frameworks. Three traditions have emerged which, in distinctive ways, study the social origins and consequences of news. With shifting technological and economic frameworks, moreover, have come a different set of circumstances for the production and circulation of news in society. Current changes in the social system of news are exemplified next, with special reference to the U.S.A. The final section revisits the three research traditions and reassesses their explanatory value with regard to these changes, exploring to what degree they may ultimately be ‘complementary.’

1 macro- and micro-theories of production - Chapter 6, p. 91

2 structural functionalism - Chapter 3, p. 55

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A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • Part I - History 13
  • 2 - The Humanities in Media and Communication Research 15
  • 3 - Media, Culture and Modern Times 40
  • Part II - Systematics 59
  • 4 - The Production of Media Fiction 62
  • 5 - The Production of News 78
  • 6 - The Study of International News 91
  • 7 - Discourses of Fact 98
  • 8 - Mediated Fiction 117
  • 9 - Media Effects 138
  • 10 - Media Reception 156
  • 11 - Contexts, Cultures, and Computers 171
  • 12 - History, Media and Communication 191
  • Part III - Practice 207
  • 13 - The Quantitative Research Process 209
  • 14 - The Qualitative Research Process 235
  • 15 - The Complementarity of Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies in Media and Communication Research 254
  • 16 - The Social Origins and Uses of Media and Communication Research 273
  • References 294
  • Index 326
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