Political journalists consider it important to present their audience with diverse viewpoints – but they often fail to do so, write Tim P. Vos, of University of Missouri, and J. David Wolfgang, of Colorado State University. The authors interviewed 18 American political journalists over the rationales behind their source selection.
The interviewed journalists hold viewpoint diversity in high value, describing it as being “critical” and “incredibly important” to their work. Still, the researchers discovered that other factors were even more highly regarded by the journalists, for example the sources’ political power and knowledge on the topic.
By having viewpoint diversity “take a back seat” as a source selection criteria, the interviewees fall back on the traditions of political journalism. This means relying on elite sources and disregarding many viewpoints, the authors note.
The article “Journalists’ Normative Constructions of Political Viewpoint Diversity” was published by the journal Journalism Studies. It is available online (abstract free).
Picture: Interview by Braden Kowitz, licence CC BY-SA 2.0.