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Journalists and their audiences


Discussions of the role of media in society are often based on the Anglo-Saxon norm that the media serve an important function in a well-functioning democracy and that journalists work on behalf of the citizens. Consequently, media companies and their journalists often legitimise what they do by referring to the best interest of their audience. Yet, the profession is also guided by the ideal of independence and the view that journalists as professional actors should decide what people need in order to function as good citizens. Thus, the journalistic task is characterised by a dual nature, which affects how journalists relate to their audience.

The dual nature of the journalistic task is clearly evident in journalists’ view of the function of the media in relation to the audience. Most journalists see it as very important that the media reflect the audience. Yet they also believe that journalists should provide individuals with what they believe is important based on journalistic norms. It also turns out that it is easier said than done to reflect the audience: journalists generally do not think highly of their own ability to identify issues that are important to people.

One finding presented in the thesis is that female journalists – young ones in particular – are more prone to consider the audience. Moreover, journalists generally seem to have difficulties assessing what news and entertainment the audience wants. The audience’s interest in entertainment is overestimated, whereas the interest in news is underestimated. The study discusses how this may affect the ability of journalists to represent the public.

Ulrika Andersson's thesis is based on the survey study Swedish Journalist Survey 2005 and on the study Journalists and their readers.

Page Manager: Mats Ekström|Last update: 8/14/2013
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