Saturday, March 28, 2009

Teresa's questions on media sociology

1- Benson in his article “Bringing the sociology of media back in” proposes focusing on the journalistic field as a mezzo-level of analysis based on field theory (Bourdieu) and new institutionalism. New institutionalists –who come from Political Science-- tend to see “the press” as an undifferentiated and monolithic institution. This uniformity would provide the press power within larger political or economic structures. In my point of view, this theoretical proposition or assumption is a two-handed sword for democratic theory: On the one hand, from a normative and democratic perspective, the media should provide different and plural views. On the other hand, if the press doesn’t have a unique and powerful agenda, would it be possible to exert some pressure over political powers and fulfill its watchdog role?

2- Benson’s propositions and hypotheses seem to be based on an older media environment. Now, the journalistic field and the factors that change the news coverage –commercial, political and interorganizational—are changing completely… how this mezzo-field category would work in this new media environment? Or would it work at all?

3- The article about Brazilian journalists shows the American influences on Brazilian journalism. Although there are some differences, journalists in both countries tend to use the same model in terms of professional values and roles. This same trend is seen not only in Latin America, but also in Europe and elsewhere. In general terms, journalists share similar routines, formats and objectives. Does this phenomenon reflect an Americanization of the media and journalism, as the article suggests? Or does it reflect a transnationalization or modernization of the media and journalism?

4- Schudson criticizes the “gatekeeping model” for not taking into account the complexities of the making news process. If we consider the process of making news in a corporate media environment, this assertion certainly holds true. But I wonder whether there might be a revival of the gatekeeping model in the blogosphere environment, especially if we consider blogs that fulfill journalistic roles.
5- Schudson divides the field that studies the factors that shape media content in three different lines of research: political economy, sociological and cultorological. What are the basic assumptions behind these three approaches that make them distinctive? Can they be complementary rather than different, especially in the cases of sociological and culturological approaches? News is socially constructed but it also reflects cultural symbols.

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