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The contextualist function: US newspaper journalists value social responsibility

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

A survey (N = 1,318) evaluated US newspaper journalists’ attitudes toward contextual reporting – stories that go beyond the immediacy of the news and contribute to societal well-being. Results indicated that journalists highly value professional roles associated with contextual reporting. Responses revealed new journalistic role functions, including the ‘Contextualist’, who placed high value on being socially responsible and accurately portraying the world. Analyses showed that younger journalists and female journalists highly valued three genres of contextual reporting: constructive journalism, solutions journalism, and restorative narrative. Additionally, a journalist’s belief in activist values such as setting the political agenda and pointing to possible solutions predicted more favorable views of all three forms of contextual journalism, while belief in an adversarial attitude predicted less favorable views of restorative narrative.

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