ARTICLE: Spanish press prefers a “loyal facilitator” role in covering business

Untitled by Steinar Hovland, licence CC0 1.0

Spanish newspapers emphasize different journalistic roles when dealing with different topics, María Luisa Humanes, of University Rey Juan Carlos, and Sergio Roses, of University of Málaga, write. The authors analysed 2 278 news articles published by four Spanish newspapers in 2012 and 2013.

The sample consists of articles from the papers Abc, El País, El Mundo, and La Razón. The stories were categorized according to which journalistic roles they manifest.

For example, the presence of opinion, interpretation or proposals were seen as signs of the “interventionist” role, while defending or supporting policies and showing the political elite in a positive light were seen as markers of the “loyal facilitator” role. The other roles were the “watchdog”, “service”, “infotainment” and “civic” roles.

The interventionist role was the most common in each of the four papers. Its frequency, however, varied from paper to paper: Abc was the most interventionist, and La Razón the least. The two papers, however, were practically equal in displays of the loyal facilitator role, which was much less common in El Mundo and El País.

Different news topics also evoke different roles, Humanes and Roses discovered. For example, the papers were more keen to display the watchdog role when reporting police and crime news. Conversely, the papers were more humble before economy and business: this topic correlated negatively with the watchdog role and positively with the loyal facilitator role. The latter find “may be a symptom of the Spanish media’s collusion with and dependence on the financial sector”, the authors suggest.

The article “Journalistic Role Performance in the Spanish National Press” was published by the International Journal of Communication. It is freely available online on the publisher’s website (open access).

Picture: Untitled by Steinar Hovland, licence CC0 1.0.

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