Sunday, March 29, 2009

Seongbae's questions for 3/30

1. Benson in his “Why Conceptual Models and “Big” Institutions Matter: A Response to David Altheide, Nina Eliasoph, William Gamson, and Todd Gitlin” introduces a notion of “field”. This was his attempt to reinvent media sociology. I liked this idea because this notion can seem to explain diversified nature of journalism. Although Benson provided the 획기적인 idea of field, he did not provide how to define or analyze these “fields”. What could be the best way to identify or measure these different types of fields?

2. By criticizing “an institutional approach”, Benson argues that audience is more active than what most scholars have previously assumed: audience is passive. His assumption on the last page seems to deal with possible influence of audience on big institutions and newspapers. Was he possibly referring to the change from traditional media to more interactive new media? The article was written in 2004, so I assume he was concerned about the growing power of audience due to new media environment.

3. On page 280 of Benson’s “Bringing the Sociology of Media Back In”, he refutes traditional categorization of the major factors shaping news coverage of politics, and introduces his own categorization of the factors. After reviewing his categorization, I am not convinced that his idea is better than the traditional categorization. Benson removed “journalists” as the major factors affecting news coverage. I believe journalists themselves play a certain role in news coverage even today. Perhaps, Benson is looking at the field of journalism from too audience-centric perspective. Or he is trying to defined journalism as independent rather than dependent?

4. Would Benson’s recategorization work in the new media setting? as I mentioned above, I find it difficult to apply it to the traditional media, but his idea of interorganized field of journalism might work with the environment of internet where audience is much more active.

5. Herscovitz’s article about Brazilian journalism makes an interesting claim about American journalism on page 75. “Media organizations [in America] are perceived as autonomous enterprises in which journalists enjoy great autonomy free from state, political parties and institutional pressures.” Then Herscovitz continues, “Journalists have the illusion of autonomy, but in fact they internalize the norms of the dominant culture and reproduce them at work.” I couldn’t agree with this more. I think journalists in general have this fantasy of autonomy and that they are the key to affect public. But the reality might be harsh for them. They might be just the ones delivering more dominant culture to public. Are there any studies that discuss this? Maybe a role of journalists or their power in affecting public?

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