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Journalism and Society
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Journalism and Society

First Edition


March 2013 | 256 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
"Every serious student of journalism should read this book... Denis McQuail has succeeded in producing a work of scholarship that shows what journalists do and what they should do."
- Stephen Coleman, University of Leeds

"For a half century we have spoken earnestly of journalism's responsibility to society instead of to business and government. Now this concept is given sophistication unmatched, by the best scholar of media theory of his generation."
- Clifford Christians, University of Illinois

"The grand old man of communication theory presents an overarching social theory of journalism that goes beyond the usual Anglo-American focus."
- Jo Bardoel, University of Amsterdam (ASCoR) and Nijmegen

"This book deals with the eternal question of how journalism is linked to society... I cannot think of a better staple food for students of journalism at all levels."
- Kaarle Nordenstreng, University of Tampere

This is a major new statement on the role of journalism in democracy from one of media and communication's leading thinkers. Denis McQuail leads the reader through a systematic exploration of how and why journalism and society have become so inextricably entwined and - as importantly - what this relationship should be like. It is a strong re-statement of the fundamental values that journalism aspires to. Written for students, this book:
  • Makes the theory accessible and relevant
  • Teaches the importance of journalism to power and politics
  • Explores the status and future of journalism as a profession
  • Outlines the impact and consequences of the digital
  • Reveals journalism as it is, but also as it should be
  • Takes each chapter further with guided reading list and free online journal articles.

This textbook is the perfect answer to the how and why of journalism. It is crucial reading for any student of media studies, communication studies and journalism.

 
Preface
 
WHAT IS JOURNALISM? HOW IS IT LINKED TO SOCIETY?
 
Introduction
 
Origins of Journalism
 
The Journalism-Society Link: Levels of Analysis and Theoretical Perspectives
 
The Main Concerns of Social Theory of Journalism
 
Diversity and Diversification of Journalism
 
Journalism and Changing Technology: Implications for Society
 
Defining Journalism and the News Today
 
The Press as an Institution
 
The 'Power of the Press'
 
What Society Expects from Journalism
 
The Self-Image of the Social Role of the Press
 
Conclusions: Questions to Be Addressed
 
JOURNALISTIC RESPONSIBILITY TO SOCIETY
 
Introduction
 
Defining Journalistic Responsibility
 
Publication and the Public Interest
 
The Foundations of Journalistic Obligation
 
Free Press Theory
 
Journalism as Meeting Essential Needs of Society
 
The Press as Fourth Estate
 
The Idea of a 'Public Sphere'
 
Social Responsibility Theory
 
Critical Theory
 
Minority Media Theory; Democratic-Participant Theory
 
New Movements in Journalism
 
Internet News Theory
 
Looking for a Structure in Social Theory of the Press
 
Conclusion
 
PRINCIPLES OF JOURNALISTIC PERFORMANCE
 
Introduction
 
Basic Publication Values in the Public Interest
 
Truth as a Principle
 
Freedom as a Principle
 
Equality, Diversity and Solidarity as Principles
 
Order and Cohesion as Principles for Journalism
 
Conclusion
 
TOWARDS A FRAMEWORK OF ANALYSIS FOR JOURNALISM
 
Introduction
 
Alternative Approaches
 
On Journalism as a Profession: A Unifying Approach
 
Does Journalism have its Own 'Ideology'?
 
The Occupational Roles of Journalism
 
Conflicts and Mixed Expectations
 
Demand versus Supply of News
 
Changing Goals and Types of Journalism
 
If Not a Profession, at Least a 'Public Occupation'
 
Conclusion
 
THE CENTRAL ROLE OF MONITOR AND MESSENGER
 
Introduction
 
The Main Roles or Functions of the Press
 
The Monitor and Messenger Role Characterized
 
Objectivity as a Guiding Principle
 
Limitations to Objectivity
 
Degrees of Purpose and Activity in Objective News Journalism
 
Tensions Internal to the Monitorial Role
 
The Monitorial Role and State Power
 
The Monitorial Role and Democracy
 
Sources of Bias in the Monitorial Role
 
'Media Logic' and 'Mediatisation' Effects on Monitoring
 
Conclusion
 
MEDIA STRUCTURE, PERFORMANCE AND THE 'POWER OF THE PRESS'
 
Introduction
 
What Is a Media System?
 
Influences from Social Structure on Media Systems
 
Political Factors
 
Economic Factors
 
Social Cultural Influences
 
Media System Influences on Journalism
 
Influences at the Level of Organisation
 
The Question of Press Effects on Society
 
Informational Effects of News
 
Persuasion Influences via News
 
Effects on Behaviour in Society - Individual and Collective
 
In Overview: Primary Determinants of the 'Power of the Press'
 
Conclusion
 
ACCOUNTABILITY OF JOURNALISM TO SOCIETY
 
Introduction
 
The Main Issues of Regulation and Accountability
 
Journalistic Responsibility
 
The Accountability of Journalism
 
Lines of Accountability of Journalism
 
Forms of Governance and Accountability Applied to Journalism
 
Mechanisms of Accountability: External
 
Mechanisms of Accountability: Internal
 
Informal and 'Illegitimate' Mechanisms of Control/Accountability
 
Three Frames of Accountability Relationship
 
Accountability in Overview
 
Conclusion
 
CHANGING MEDIA TECHNOLOGY: CONSEQUENCES FOR JOURNALISM, PRESS INSTITUTION AND ITS RELATIONS WITH SOCIETY
 
Introduction
 
The Potential of the Internet and Other New Media
 
Problematic Aspects of Media Change
 
Initial Signs of Change
 
The Internet: Liberating Promise Unfulfilled?
 
Effects of Media Change on Journalism Itself
 
The Future of the Press Institution
 
The Journalism-Society Relationship
 
The Question of Trust
 
Consequences for the Public Sphere
 
In Overview
 
Conclusion
 
IN CONCLUSION: STRIKING A NORMATIVE BALANCE
 
Introduction
 
A Frame of Reference for Journalism and Society
 
Normative Contexts and Choices: Different Levels of Application
 
Journalism in an Information Society
 
The Main Normative Issues of Journalism and Society in Review
 
Towards a Universal Normative Theory of Journalism?
 
The Consequences of Ongoing Changes in Media Technology and Structure for Normative Relations between Journalism and Society
 
What Can Be Done? Reflections on the Chances for Better Journalism
 
Last Word
 
Appendix: Selectde Documents Relating to Righrs and Obligations of News Media
 
References
 
Index

Every serious student of journalism should read this book. Combining sophisticated analysis with an accessible writing style, Denis McQuail has succeeded in producing a work of scholarship that shows what journalists do and what they should do.
Stephen Coleman
Professor of Political Communication, Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds


This luminous book sets a new standard for the textbook genre. Brilliant in contents, crystal-clear precision where every sentence counts, rigorous with ideas, it teaches the world mind. For a half century we have spoken earnestly of journalism's responsibility to society instead of to business and government. Now this concept is given sophistication unmatched, by the best scholar of media theory of his generation.
Clifford Christians
University of Illinois


This is going to be a must-read in journalism and communication classes. McQuail quality as we know it.
Christina Holtz-Bacha
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg


Journalism, as a profession, evolves, becoming increasingly complex and diverse. Especially now we need to be reminded where it came from, how it works, and where it stands in society. Denis McQuail provides the indispensable gateway.
Mark Deuze
University of Amsterdam


At a time when the journalistic profession is fundamentally challenged by technological transformations and new business models, Denis McQuail reminds us of the continuing social and political relevance of journalism in and for democratic societies. The grand old man of communication theory presents an overarching social theory of journalism that goes beyond the usual Anglo-American focus and develops a truly global scope, reflecting both his own previous work as well as that of many others. The master of synthesis offers an excellent overview of the position and mission of journalism in an information society that opens up the field of journalism and journalism studies for both students and scholars.
Jo Bardoel
Professor of Journalism and Media, University of Amsterdam (ASCoR) and Nijmegen, the Netherlands


In Journalism and Society Denis McQuail is at his best. He presents a very insightful revision of the sociological reflection on journalism and society, discussing the important implications of the new communication technologies for journalism of the 21st century. The declared aim of the book is to identify and describe the principles of journalism most widely recognized. McQuail goes well beyond, providing sound theoretical foundations of a new sociological paradigm of public communication in deeply transformed media and information environments. At the same time the book is a firm guide in the understanding of the principles of a profession that is a core activity of modern societies. A must-read book for students, academics and journalists.
Gianpietro Mazzoleni
Professor of Sociology of Communication, University of Milan, Italy


This book deals with the eternal question of how journalism is linked to society. Its nine chapters cover all pertinent aspects of journalism, including its freedom and responsibility, as well as issues such as the power of the press and the future of the press as an institution in the age of internet. All this is done with an analytical insight of the encyclopedic authority behind Mass Communication Theory. Also, pedagogically it is an exemplary textbook with each chapter including boxes to summarize the points, a conclusion to wind up, and selected further readings to support homework. I cannot think of a better staple food for students of journalism at all levels.
Kaarle Nordenstreng
Professor Emeritus of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Tampere, Finland


Good overview over basic conditionings for media and journalism (on a general basis)
Students get insight into various approaches for analyzing media structures and conduct

Mr Stefan Gadringer
Department of Communication Studies, University of Salzburg
December 14, 2015

Excellent resource for level 5 students researching and investigating the symbiotic relationship between the press and public figures.

Mrs Rachael Cox
School of Media, Gloucestershire University
September 9, 2015

This is an essential book for journalism students. It deepens the understanding of journalism's role, responsibilities and challenges in contemporary societies.

Dr Nelson Ribeiro
Faculty of Humanities, Catholic Portguese University
March 4, 2015

Excellent overview of the socialogy of the media

Mr Paul Lashmar
School of Arts, Brunel University
March 2, 2014

An extremely valuable addition to the literature on journalism, and up to the authors usual high standards.

Professor Julian Petley
School of Arts, Brunel University
November 4, 2013

A sound text to deepen students' understanding of journalism in context and its wider responsibilities.

Ms Mary Williams
School of Social Historical and Literary Studies, Portsmouth University
October 3, 2013

A great up to date sociological approach to news and journalism

Dr Kenneth Murphy
School of Media, Dublin Institute of Technology
July 15, 2013

This will always be a classic text for the study of journalism, the society it is meant to be informing and reporting on, and the complex relationships between the two. No matter how complex the issues that are raised in the discussions, they are presented in way that is so accessible for students or practitioners that no journalism library is complete without the latest edition.

Miss Angela Birchall
School of Media, Music & Performance, Salford University
June 19, 2013

this book is essential to the course i am going to teach and has good aspects for student journalists

Miss Rachael Rodgers
Digital media , Doncaster College
June 15, 2013

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