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Putting broadcast news in context: An analysis of U.S. television journalists’ role conceptions and contextual values

by Nicole Dahmen (with Jesse Abdenour, UO, Karen McIntyre, VCU)

Contextual journalism calls for depth of news reporting rather than “just the facts.” A national survey of local television (TV) journalists indicated the increasing popularity of this more comprehensive reporting form. Although news sociologists contend that local TV routines facilitate the production of quick, less substantive stories, TV respondents in the present study highly valued comprehensive, contextual news styles—even more than newspaper journalists. Building on the work of Weaver and colleagues’ “American Journalist” project, TV news workers in this survey preferred contextual roles, such as alerting the public of potential threats and acting in a socially responsible way, but also valued traditional broadcasting roles, such as getting information to the public quickly. TV news roles were compared to those of newspaper journalists to analyze how professionals in different media view their work identities.

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