News Making and News Reporting Routines
MERICAN JOURNALISTS ARE WORRIED about the direction in which their profession is moving. In a 2007 nationwide survey, 69 percent of national broadcast journalists thought that the direction was wrong. So did 56 percent of print journalists. Why? There are many reasons, and they differ substantially from the concerns that were expressed four years earlier. Worries about a decline in the quality of news have been supplanted by worries about the economic survival of traditional journalism and traditional venues in the Internet age. As Table 4-1 shows, 41 percent of national journalists named quality of coverage as the most important problem in spring 2004. That number plunged to 22 percent by December 2007, and business and financial conditions became the chief concern for 55 percent of the interviewees, up from 30 percent in 2004. Journalists have realized that much of the action has moved to the Internet platform and have recalibrated their quality measurement scales accordingly. They are willing, even eager, to work in the Internet environment. But the nagging question that makes them uneasy is whether Web journalism can become profitable enough to sustain broad-gauge journalistic enterprises covering the news that today’s citizens need to perform their civic duties. In this chapter we provide insights on these issues by focusing on reporters and their work under normal circumstances. In the next chapter we will address news making at times of crisis.
PROFILE SKETCH OF U.S. JOURNALISTS
How do journalists decide which information to report as news and how to shape it into news stories? The answers can be approached from three theoretical perspectives. Personality theory explains professional behavior in terms of personality and social background. Organization theory focuses on the impact of organizational goals and pressures on the behavior of members of news production organizations. Role...