Comparative research on journalistic objectivity has most often been studied in Western contexts. Claudia Mellado, of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaiso, María Luisa Humanes, of Rey Juan Carlos University, and Mireya Márquez-Ramírez, of Universidad Iberoamericana, studied the relation between role performance and the implementation of the objectivity norm in Chile, Mexico, and Spain.
The authors conducted a content analysis of 7 868 news stories from 11 newspapers, looking at the use of objective reporting methods. They studied also how the performance of journalistic roles influence those methods.
Objectivity varies across journalistic cultures, the results show. There was an overall trend of low presence of source balance (26,8% for the total sample) and low use of expert sources (10%).
The performance of professional roles has a significant influence on the implementation of objectivity. Especially this is the case with the methods of balancing, use of quotes, and use of verifiable evidence. Norms and values can sometimes be internalized at the rhetorical level, but not at the performative level. In journalistic practice reporting techniques vary a lot and depend upon performing certain roles, the authors conclude.
The article “The influence of journalistic role performance on objective reporting” was published in International Communication Gazette and is available online (free abstract). The research is part of the Journalistic Role Performance Around the Globe Project.
Picture: Periodistas by Esther Vargas, license CC BY-SA 2.0