2010-11-12 Public Storytelling: The Logic of Journalism


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We are investigating the function of journalism in societies from the perspective of our individual perceptions of the journalistic role. We will identify journalism in its own logic as having a "narrative multi-system relevance*, and we will use this as a starting point to convey conceptions of journalistic quality. Practical examples will show whether the journalistic quality is evident in single editorial contributions.

We are then investigating the specific strategies with which journalism in its multiple varieties relies on narratively setting reality into scenes. Thereby, we encounter the typical roles of the narrator (journalism concepts) and the applied patterns (news values, frames).

Published in: Education, News & Politics
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  • Hey, Vinzenz, this is great, thanks for posting..! (QJNT in Athens-Greece).
    Mario will contact you soon.. All the best - keep posting - say hi to U of Zurich..! See you in class in a few weeks.
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  • Informationsgesellschaft
    Medien und Medienöffentlichkeit
    Mediensystem Schweiz / Europa
    Struktur und Arbeitsweise Medien
    Neue Medien
    Basics Medienarbeit; Zielgruppengerechte Medienstrategien
    Beziehungen von PR und Journalismus
  • New editorial trends in newsroom organizations – such as newsroom and newsdesk – support the development of inter-systemic perspective.
    New organizational principles lead to the declining of specialized editorial departments.
    Religious topics are usually chained with other (political, scientific, legal, or economic) conflictive perspectives.
  • 2
  • 6
  • 2010-11-12 Public Storytelling: The Logic of Journalism

    1. 1. Zürcher FachhochschuleZürcher Fachhochschule Quality Journalism and New Technologies Greece 1 Public Storytelling: The Logic of Journalism Friday November 12, 2010 Prof. Dr. Vinzenz Wyss Zurich University of Applied Sciences vinzenz.wyss@zhaw.ch
    2. 2. Zürcher Fachhochschule 2 Learning objectives • You know the definition of journalism as a societal system as it is discussed today in media science. • You reflect on the journalistic concepts: – Journalism as Narrator – Journalism Concepts – journalistic processes of selection and production • You are able to take into consideration and reflect on the self logic of journalism in your work as journalists.
    3. 3. Zürcher Fachhochschule 3 Agenda • We are investigating the function of journalism in societies from the perspective of our individual perceptions of the journalistic role. We will identify journalism in its own logic as having a "narrative multi-system relevance*, and we will use this as a starting point to convey conceptions of journalistic quality. Practical examples will show whether the journalistic quality is evident in single editorial contributions. • We are then investigating the specific strategies with which journalism in its multiple varieties relies on narratively setting reality into scenes. Thereby, we encounter the typical roles of the narrator (journalism concepts) and the applied patterns (news values, frames). We are investigating the methods which allow editorial departments to develop and secure the processes of journalistic quality production (Quality Management and Quality Assurance).
    4. 4. Zürcher Fachhochschule 4 Journalism… • … is – only – a part of the public sphere. • … is a during and systematically produced form of public sphere. • … is a form of public sphere that has ist own rules of inclusion and selection. • … is a form of public sphere that is routinely expected by a general public and societal actors and thus institutionalized. • …has a wide awareness. • … transports expectable Follow-up communication, trustworthyness, reputation, acceptance.
    5. 5. Zürcher Fachhochschule 5 What is Journalism for?
    6. 6. Zürcher Fachhochschule 6 Journalism as a social system I Economy Politics Justice Science Religion etc. Society Art Journalism PR Demonstrations Film The Public
    7. 7. Zürcher Fachhochschule 7 examples
    8. 8. Zürcher Fachhochschule 8 Journalism as a social system II Economy Politics Justice Science Religion etc. Society Culture Journalism PR Demos Film The public Function: self-oberservation and synchronization of society Code/Logic: „multi-system relevance“ Performance: transparency, orientation, validation, socialisation, integration, control Quality: accuracy, comprehensiveness , multi- systrem-relevance, fairness, transparency, comprehensibility, timeliness, narrativity etc.
    9. 9. Zürcher Fachhochschule 9 Trend to Generalization by New Organizational Structures Daily Telegraph London, 07 / 6300 m2 / 450 editors (Meier 2007)
    10. 10. Zürcher Fachhochschule 10 Self-observation and Synchronization of Society • From the perspective of systems theory, journalism can be seen as a societal system by itself – autonomous, but open towards its environment (Luhmann 1996). Like every other societal system, journalism has a particular function within society. For journalism, this function can be seen as the self-observation and synchronization of society (Kohring 2004). • These are performances of journalism that allow the individuals and organisations in different societal roles, such as citizens (politics), customers (economy), scientists (science), artists (culture) or believers (religion), to observe the performance of other societal systems and conflicts or irritations between different societal system logics. By doing so, the performance of journalism helps them to play their role as societal actors.
    11. 11. Zürcher Fachhochschule 11 Solving a problem for society • By fulfilling this function, journalism is solving a problem for society as a whole and for the other societal systems: It observes the other societal systems and thus allows for the synchronization of the other societal systems and their environments by relating the different logics of the various systems. Societal systems like politics, economics or religion try to influence other societal systems. This influence can only be exercised through communication. This communication can either be direct, accidental in the public sphere, or through a system which is specialised on this communication between systems, journalism.
    12. 12. Zürcher Fachhochschule 12 Inter-systemic relevance • Journalism fulfils its task by using the same rules and routines no matter what other system it is dealing with. Therefore, when journalism deals with religion, it can be assumed that it is applying the same rules and routines as it is when dealing with politics, law, economics, culture or other societal systems. These rules and routines are determined by the function of journalism, self-observation and synchronization of society. • In order to fulfil this function, journalism becomes active when an event or an issue becomes relevant beyond the sphere of one system, or, in other words, when it has inter-systemic relevance. To be more precise, journalism becomes active when an event or issue becomes relevant (case dimension) at the same time (time dimension) and creates resonance in other systems.
    13. 13. Zürcher Fachhochschule 13 Media reality etc. Investigative Journalism Interpretative Journalism „Objective“ Journalism etc. Efficiency Conflict Ethics Frames etc. Relevance Valence Status News Values etc. Salvation Treason, Intrigue Hero‘s tale Narration Patterns Journalism Concepts Journalistic Schemata
    14. 14. Zürcher Fachhochschule 14 political discourse power / not power economic dicourse to sell / not to sell religious discourse : transcendent / not transcendent scientific discourse : be true / not true justice- discourse legal/ not legal Narration as crucial journalistic communication mode Theoretical Construction, Content Level: Chaining different system logics by Narration Journalistic Logic: Inter-System-Relevance
    15. 15. Zürcher Fachhochschule 15 Narration as structure of meaning By using narration we structure time and space. By telling stories, we sort things, put them into relation to each other, create hierarchies, thus create meaning. By using narration we agree on a common perception and understanding of the world. Narration uses methods like rememberance, experience, basic narrative patterns and motives.
    16. 16. Zürcher Fachhochschule 16 Elements to creat a story 1) The elements of a story stand in a specific chronological order. 2) The story requires characters which take over archetypical roles (heros, victims, saviours, losers, etc.). 3) The story contains hints as to how to interpret it: It has several levels of meaning: the actual plot represents a more general topic, which goes beyond the immediate event.
    17. 17. Zürcher Fachhochschule 17 „Frames" are cognitive structures of interpretation in the minds of journalists, which facilitate the selection and interpretation of information. – They help to categorize and interpret new events and information. – Previous experiences are memorized and used as frames through which later experience is interpreted. – These frames structure a topic and thus influence the information processing. – An essential characteristic of frames is that they contain judgements. They can thus also be considered „interpretative patterns“. For example: Conflict, Ethics, Personalization, Development, Efficiency (Dahinden 2006) The Framing Approach
    18. 18. Zürcher Fachhochschule 18 How to connect systems: Narration • Narrative factors (Kinnebrok): – Singularity – Conflict – Dramatic mode – Emotion – Meaning beyond singular event – Personalization – Autonomous unit
    19. 19. Zürcher Fachhochschule 19 Motive • Power (Rise and fall, futility, greed...) • Threatened security, salvation • Love in all variations • Fairness • Salvation from distress • Treason • Initiation and disruption • Death • Accusation and justification • Failure and resurrection • The unknown, the sinister, and its discovery • The paradox • Passion for a cause • Back-breaking guilt and atonement • Murderous or liberating trick • Revenge, fratricide • Autonomy, freedom
    20. 20. Zürcher Fachhochschule 20 Journalism Concepts Role Intention „Objective“ journalism Mediator Reproduce „reality“ Opinion journalism Party member Help create opinions Precision journalism Scientist Do research scientifically Interpretative journalism Explainer Orientate Investigative journalism Watchdog Control/Scrutiny/ disclose abuse of power Literary („New“) journalism Entertainer Express sensitivity, „authenticity“ Advocative journalism Advocate Create solidarity, sympathy Public journalism Organizer of Dialogues Solutions for local problems Service journalism Counsellor, aide Self-help
    21. 21. Zürcher Fachhochschule 21 Dimensions News values according to Schulz 1997 I Status Elite Nation The more powerful the involved nation(s) Elite Institution The more powerful the involved institution(s) or organisation(s) Elite Person The more powerful the involved actors Valence Aggression The more open conflicts or violence is involved Controversy The more controversial a topic or event is Values The stronger generally-agreed values or rights are threatened Success The clearer a succes or development is visible Relevance Consequences The greater the consequences of an event Involvement The more an event touches upon the personal circumstances or needs of people
    22. 22. Zürcher Fachhochschule 22 Dimensions News values according to Schulz 1997 II Identification Proximity The closer the issue in terms of geography, politics, culture Ethno-centrism The stronger the involvment or affection of member of one‘s own nation Emotionalisation The more emotional aspects an issue has Consonance Topicality The stronger the affinity of the issue to the most important topics of the day Stereotypics The clearer and straightforward the story develops Predictability The more an issue corresponds to previous expecations Dynamics Frequency The more the unfolding of a story corresponds to the frequency of the media Uncertainty The more uncertain, more open an issue develops Surprise The more surprising an issue is or develops
    23. 23. Zürcher Fachhochschule 23 Quality assurance • Quality assurance itself is an ongoing process with preventive, accompanying and ex-post elements. • The process of quality assurance is primarily established and driven by the management. It allows for a persistent evaluation in the sense of self-control to see whether the organization’s performance (e.g. its programme) meets the goals and standards set by them in accordance with the broader regulatory framework. • On the editorial level maintaining quality includes all the systematically planed procedures which contribute to determining journalistic production process or services or to improve them and adjust them to previously defined requirements – quality goals. Quality assurance thereby helps to define corrective measures to meet the set standards and to overcome deficits. To develop, steer and ensure quality in the media companies, suitable management concepts are necessary, which develop the corresponding structures and creates internal guidelines.
    24. 24. Zürcher FachhochschuleZürcher Fachhochschule Quality Journalism and New Technologies Greece 24 interpretive schemas / norms, values, standards facilities (e.g. budget, instruments, knowledge, hierarchy work organization) to communicate / to legitimate to exert power rules resources media organisation Journalism as a social practice reproducing the rules and resources by interaction of the journalists in the media organisation
    25. 25. Zürcher FachhochschuleZürcher Fachhochschule Quality Journalism and New Technologies Greece 25 concepts: e.g. „objective reporting“ norms: e.g. independence, timeliness facilities: e.g. time, manpower, knowledge, phone, archive, to communicate / to legitimate to exert power rules of signification/legitimation resources of domination ch process within the media organization recursive process
    26. 26. Zürcher Fachhochschule 26 TQM as Media Quality Management concept • Self-evaluation: Ongoing, information about stakeholder environment is monitored and affects goals and processes. • International Standard based on TQM: ISAS BC 9001 and ISAS P 9001, defined by Certimedia, applied in Mexico, Indonesia, Latvia.
    27. 27. Zürcher Fachhochschule 27 Elements of MQM Systems MQM: System to ensure quality before, during and after the production process • Clear responsibilities • Quality goals which can be measured • Defined resources and processes
    28. 28. Zürcher Fachhochschule 28 (a) Quality policy • The management should provide evidence of its commitment to well-defined core values. The quality policy of the management should be formalized in the form of a widely disseminated document that is reviewed at least once a year. This document could for example include an editorial charter that guarantees the independence of the media organization from any kind of power, be it political, economical or other. A code for programmes or mission statement, an ethical code or a quality manual includes e.g. professional norms of quality journalism, such as pluralism of opinions and points of view, the promotion of gender equality, consideration for minority groups, promotion of diversity etc.
    29. 29. Zürcher Fachhochschule 29 (b) Resources and processes • The management should identify and document all the processes having a direct impact on the quality of editorial content, the relationship with advertisers, the relationship with external suppliers of content, the measurement of audience figures and listeners/viewers’ satisfaction, and the management of human resources. The organization should have clear rules of recruitment and professional development options for all its employees. The organization should pay particular attention to the measurement of audience figures, audience satisfaction, and stakeholders’ complaints, establish an in-house critic, or a “content evaluation commission”, and put in place a quality or ethics committee and mediation mechanisms (e.g. ombudsman) to deal with external complaints.
    30. 30. Zürcher Fachhochschule 30 Current situation I: Implementation of QM-Systems within the media sector • The ongoing scientific debate about QM-Systems has hardly affected the media organizations so far. • Research on the establishment and implementation of forms of QM-Systems shows: – QM initiatives are very seldomly implemented in media organisations (exception: public broadcasters). – Only one third of all news organizations has defined quality goals in mission statements or editorial handbooks.
    31. 31. Zürcher Fachhochschule 31 Current situation II: Some pressure from media regulators required • The more the media operate according to the logic of economy, efficiency and profit maximization, the less we can expect the implementation of a quality management system. • It is doubtful if media organizations make an effort on their own to establish quality management systems.  It takes public debate and some pressure from media policy / regulator to institutionalize self-control.  External media regulation – legal provisions – have to support this process.
    32. 32. Zürcher Fachhochschule 32 Case Study Switzerland: Requirements Regulatory Situation in Switzerland: • OFCOM gives broadcasting licenses to private organisations. Requirement: not too concrete, because of press freedom. Instead: Requirements for programme content and production process standards. This includes: - Quality goals and standards concerning form and content of programme - Defined production processes - Sufficient personal resources • Licensing process 2008: 72 applicants for 54 broadcasting licenses
    33. 33. Zürcher Fachhochschule 33 Case study Switzerland: Effects • In their applications for licences, broadcasters deliver information on MQM, rules of procedure, organizational (responsibility) charts, financial situation incl. financing of production, programme concepts. • Concepts for preventive, accompanying and corrective production measures to meet own quality goals • 60% refer to TQM • 2/3 have intention to have regular external MQM evaluation • BUT: All are intentions – awareness is here, implementation has to follow.
    34. 34. Zürcher Fachhochschule 34 Quality Management Instruments TV (N=20) in % Radio (N=52) in % 1. Preventive measures Editorial mission statement 95 90 Editorial Handbook / Journalistic Guidelines 85 73 Training, external or internal 95/ 85 82/ 87 Management by Objectives (Quality goals) 70 60 Evaluation of employee satisfaction 15 0 Programme and issue planning 100 88
    35. 35. Zürcher Fachhochschule 35 Quality Management Instruments TV (N=20) in % Radio (N=52) in % 2. Measures accompanying the production process Briefings by superiors 50 46 Editorial conference 80 77 Approval of single broadcasts (Countercheck) 65 48 3. Corrective measures Feedbacks, internal or external 85 / 50 92 / 27 Ombudsman 5 6 Audience research 45 37 Evaluation of viewer / listener feedback 50 38