Research Seminar: Diversity of professional cultures: mapping journalistic roles across 67 countries

Using 27,500 interviews with journalists from 67 countries, this talk presents a comparative analysis of the interpretative repertoire journalists employ for articulating journalism’s role in society.

Results indicate that journalists still coalesce around key traditional values addressing journalism’s function in political conversation. At the same time, there is notable diversity in the way these values are articulated.

Democratic environments and a strong presence of emancipative values favour journalistic cultures embracing a monitorial role, which is grounded in the ideal of journalism holding the powerful to account. Lower levels of democracy are associated with a collaborative role, which is about journalists acting as partners of the government.

An interventionist role (which compels journalists to pursue a mission and promote certain values) was more strongly supported in less developed societies and countries facing disruptive changes. These results provide further support for the importance of the political context as a major source of cross-national variation in journalistic cultures.

Thomas Hanitzsch is Chair and Professor of Communication in the Department of Communication Studies and Media Research at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany. A former journalist, he focuses his teaching and research on global journalism cultures, war coverage, celebrity news and comparative methodology.