ARTICLE: Organisation, role and ethics predict journalists’ perceptions of aggressive newsgathering

Picture: untitled by Ian Espinosa, license CC0 1.0

How acceptable do journalists see aggressive newsgathering practices? James Hollings and Ravi Balasubramanian, both of Massey University, and Thomas Hanitzsch, of LMU Munich (authors not in original order), aimed to create reliable predictors for these controversial practices.

The article proposes an exploratory theoretical model based on risk-taking theory. The model is validated using a survey study with journalists in New Zealand.

How journalists see controversial practices as justified is predicted by three factors:

  • economic and organisational influences on journalists
  • their role perceptions
  • and their ethical orientation

From an organisational perspective, controversial techniques tend to be used more by reporters working for the more aggressive national news providers, with better resources for investigative practices and legal advice. Looking at role perceptions, watchdog or monitoring journalists view aggressive techniques unfavourably. Organisational influences are moderated by experience, though only for journalists with 5 to 10 years of experience. They were less likely to approve of these practices.

The article “Risky Choices?” was published in Journalism Studies and is available online (abstract free).

Picture: untitled by Ian Espinosa, license CC0 1.0


Give us feedback