ARTICLE: What makes a journalist an elite journalist?

Velvet rope by The Lilywhite Collection, licence CC BY-ND 2.0

Financial journalists evaluate their colleagues based on their skill and success, not their personality, the results from a survey suggests. Hai L. Tran and Matthew W. Ragas, both of DePaul University, asked 192 American financial journalists to name their three most respected peers.

Over 90 per cent of all nominations went to six journalists, collectively forming the financial journalism “elite” in this study. The participants were asked to assess the elite journalists’ traits: do they have “unique talents”, or are they “willing to use aggressive tactics”?

Tran and Ragas boil these traits down into two broader pathways into higher social status: prestige and dominance. Out of the two, only prestige appears to contribute appreciably into financial journalists’ social rank, the authors discovered. The apparent irrelevance of personality, however, may be the result of the study’s design, the authors remind: in face-to-face interactions personality might still come into play.

The article “Peer Perceptions of Media Elites and Hierarchical Differentiation Among Financial Journalists” was published by the journal Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. It is available online (abstract free).

Picture: Velvet rope by The Lilywhite Collection, licence CC BY-ND 2.0.

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