Location

University of Windsor

Document Type

Paper

Keywords

objectivity, journalism, Switzerland, public service television, decision-making, Pragma-Dialectics, Argumentum Model of Topics, endoxa

Start Date

2016 9:00 AM

End Date

2016 5:00 PM

Abstract

Objectivity is a key concept in journalism studies, yet a controversial one. Scholars (e.g., Clayman and Heritage 2002; Hallin and Mancini 2004; Schudson 1978; 2001) disagree on what it precisely implies (distinguishing facts from opinions? Reporting only true facts? Being balanced in presenting positions?) and on how strictly journalists should stick to it. I claim that adopting an argumentative perspective enables to see how journalists deal with objectivity in everyday work. In fact, the objectivity requirement plays the role of endoxical premise in argumentative reasoning that takes place during newsroom decision-making. In the present paper, this is shown by analyzing argumentative discussions in two television newsrooms of the Swiss public service broadcaster (SRG SSR). The case studies shed light on what objectivity means for these two newsrooms, as well as on how the goal of being objective intermingles with that of telling a story.

Methodologically, argumentation is reconstructed employing Pragma-Dialectics (van Eemeren and Grootendorst 2004), while endoxical premises and inferential patterns supporting standpoints are traced out applying the Argumentum Model of Topics (Rigotti and Greco Morasso 2009, 2010, in preparation). The examples are taken from a corpus collected during the Swiss National Science Foundation project “Idée suisse” (NFP 56, 2005-2008).

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May 18th, 9:00 AM May 21st, 5:00 PM

Objectivity in newsmaking: an argumentative perspective

University of Windsor

Objectivity is a key concept in journalism studies, yet a controversial one. Scholars (e.g., Clayman and Heritage 2002; Hallin and Mancini 2004; Schudson 1978; 2001) disagree on what it precisely implies (distinguishing facts from opinions? Reporting only true facts? Being balanced in presenting positions?) and on how strictly journalists should stick to it. I claim that adopting an argumentative perspective enables to see how journalists deal with objectivity in everyday work. In fact, the objectivity requirement plays the role of endoxical premise in argumentative reasoning that takes place during newsroom decision-making. In the present paper, this is shown by analyzing argumentative discussions in two television newsrooms of the Swiss public service broadcaster (SRG SSR). The case studies shed light on what objectivity means for these two newsrooms, as well as on how the goal of being objective intermingles with that of telling a story.

Methodologically, argumentation is reconstructed employing Pragma-Dialectics (van Eemeren and Grootendorst 2004), while endoxical premises and inferential patterns supporting standpoints are traced out applying the Argumentum Model of Topics (Rigotti and Greco Morasso 2009, 2010, in preparation). The examples are taken from a corpus collected during the Swiss National Science Foundation project “Idée suisse” (NFP 56, 2005-2008).