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The Role Performance of Journalists as Political Actors: Comparing Differences in the Hybridisation of Journalistic Cultures between Authoritarian Contexts and Transitional Democracies

Globalisation
Media
Social Media
Communication
Comparative Perspective
Political Cultures
Claudia Mellado
Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso
Claudia Mellado
Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso

Abstract

Journalistic cultures represent the cultural capital that, as “interpretive communities”, journalists share. They may manifest themselves in values and ideals, and also in journalistic practices (Zelizer, 1993; Mellado et al., 2017a; Schudson, 2003). Recent findings on journalistic cultures across the globe have shown a multi-layered hybridization in professional performance that do not resemble either existing ideal media system typologies, or conventional assumptions about political or regional realities (Mellado, et al., 2017a). While similar studies have specifically addressed the hybridization of journalistic cultures by studying the put in practice of journalistic roles in transitional democracies from specific geographical regions (Mellado et al., 2017b; Marquez et al., 2018; Stepinska et al., 2017), we know less about the actual differences of this hybridization between transitional democracies and authoritarian contexts from different part of the world. Based on the argument that journalistic cultures are heterogeneous, fluid and dynamic, and that they cannot only be attributed to the media system, the political regime, the quality of democracy or the geographical region, but also to the nature of news production itself, this paper addresses the question of how journalistic cultures differ among hybrid regimes from Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe. Our study compares the performance of three political functions of journalism commonly identified in the literature—the interventionist, watchdog, and civic roles - in news from 36 media outlets in Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Cuba, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Malaysia and China (N = 23,127), analyzing how the performance of these roles in the news render different types of hybridization between and within transitional democracies and authoritarian regimes. As a second step, we integrate crucial systemic variables, as well as organizational and story level indicators, to explore the factors that better explain the differences found by this study. Findings will be discussed regarding the political implications of hybrid journalistic practices in a post-truth era, as well as the interplay between journalistic autonomy, adaptation and interdependence with different reference groups (Chadwick 2013).