Journalism does not only facilitate democracy, civic engamement and strenghten communities, as is often theorized. A new study by Johan Lindell, of Karlstad University, and Paola Sartoretto, of Stockholm University, looks at the social functions of journalism from a different perspective.
The authors conducted eight focus groups interviews with secondary education students with different profiles in Brazil and Sweden. They seeked to find out how class matters for how young people relate to the news.
News preferences and practices are highly dependent on socialization, which takes place in the family and in the schools, the authors found. These different preferences work to legitimate social differences.
The social positions can affect for example the taste for “quality” news versus sensationalism, and so forth. As an example, for working-class young, the widely available information and access to public debate does not mean automatic engagement. Consuming a lot of news can be seen as a characteristic of the elite.
The authors suggest that journalism scholars move away from the notion of news as creating the “healthy citizen”, and demand a more careful examination into the ways in which people relate to the news.
The article “Young People, Class and the News” was published in Journalism Studies and is available on the journal’s website (free abstract) and on Academia.edu (pre-print version).
Picture: Untitled by Yoosun Won, license CC0 1.0
The article mistakenly stated that “[journalism] can also generate social fragmentation”. This was corrected.