Saturday, September 30, 2006

Notes on Polish journalism

Curry, J.L. (1990). Poland's Journalists: Professionalism and politics.

Lady Rutelli giornalista per Silvio

Thanks to a national strike of journalists, there is no print news today. This event - which I can't imagine happening in the UK after Rupert Murdoch's move to Wapping - came as a pleasant surprise. No longer the rush to catch up with and synthesise the daily flood of information.

In any event, there are some interesting stories. Francesco Rutelli's wife is going to work for Mediaset, which one can read either as confirmation of the already strong links between politics (in general) and the media (in general); a severe marital problem for the Rutelli, given the strong links between the right and Mediaset; or, a wise recognition on the part of Mrs. Rutelli that, had she taken the job she was offered at Rai, this would have caused no end of conflicts of interest.

In other news, Repubblica the same source (La Mescolanza) reports that six seats in Rai are shortly about to change hands: two radio news bulletins, the electoral broadcasts, Raisport, Rainews24, and RaiInternational.

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Alexander Stille - Silvio's Shadow

There is but one lacuna in Alexander Stille's otherwise excellent piece 'Silvio's Shadow': it is not true that Berlusconi "occupied an incredible 50 percent of airtime on the state-owned newscasts". Data from the Italian communications watchdog show the figure for the three state-owned channels was closer to 20%. The quite remarkable figure of 50% of political coverage is, however, achieved, by TG4, the news bulletin on Berlusconi's Retequattro channel. (More information on these data can be found here.)

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Lottizzazione for the naughties

There was a certain moment in the nineties when it looked as if the era of lottizzazione - of the division of posts in Rai along party-political lines - might come to an end. This wonderful piece from l'Opinione suggests it hasn't. It includes three classic elements of pre-1992 lottizzazione:
  • Bizarre names to refer to methods of allocating posts: "Once it was called the Cencelli method; or if not, the 'balancing act', in other circumstances 'zebratura', and in others still alternation of posts [between supporters of different parties, understood] (Una volta si diceva “metodo Cencelli”, in altre circostanze si è parlato di “bilancino”, in altre ancora di “zebratura” e di “alternanza delle caselle”).
  • references to the separate orientations of the channels ( "Il Tg1 resta comunque un telegiornale sostanzialmente filo-governativo sia che vinca la destra che la sinistra")
  • the reference to past practice - including the return of Albino Longhi as political aide-de-camp to DG Claudio Cappon. ("Albino Longhi [former image consultant to Prodi in '96] occupa al settimo piano di viale Mazzini un ruolo strategico. Suggerisce, con la sua vasta conoscenza dell’azienda e dei giornalisti Rai, i “pizzini” delle nomine. Ai tempi di Biagio Agnes tale compito toccava a Salvatore Biamente".)

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006


UK journalism is becoming professionalised, not in a trait-based sense, nor in a market closure sense, but as part of a managerial project designed to ensure control over members using minimally coercive methods of myth cultivation.


Disagreement about the professional status of journalism dates back to the emergence of the occupation.
It can be seen in the 1907 split between the NUJ and the original Chartered Institute of Journalists (IoJ).
Tunstall has argued that, if journalism was professionalising in the '60s, it has gone backwards in the '90s.
But commentary on the 'professionalism question' seems to adopt an 'implicit model of professionalism as a set of traits that was abandoned by sociology thirty years ago' (p. 548)
Newer ideas - of professionalism as market closure to new entrants - have not really been applied to journalism.


National Association of Journalists founded in 1884; acquires Royal Charter six years later.
Part of the NAJ viewed the Charter grant as the capstone of union activities.
A more demanding but by no means radical part viewed improvements in job conditions as more important.
This group left to form the NUJ, modelled on the NUT, and wary of cross-class alliances with, e.g., printers.
The dominance of the NUJ has meant that "the main collective voice of UK journalism... has been that of a 'wages movement', which has accepted the self-definition of journalism as a highly skilled craft best prepared for through apprenticeship" (p. 550)

The NUJ did not pursue market closure, but concentrated on increasing wages.
The IoJ, by contrast, sponsored private members' bills and submitted proposals for a Register of Journalists (1947, 1977).

The 1947 - 49 Royal Commission on the Press did manage to set up an industry-wide training scheme; but this was carried out on the apprenticeship model through the regional press.
Now, however, journalism is being seen as a graduate-entry occupation, with undergraduate courses in journalism being set up in the absence of any industry schemes.


Tunstall (1971) quoted Greenwood's 'five attributes' of a profession, and concluded that journalism could only become a 'semi-profession'.
The 1947 Royal Commission pointed to the lack of direct clients: unlike doctors and lawyers who work for clients, journalists work for editors and publishers.
One aspect of a profession - the ability to draw up an internal standard of conduct - has been singularly lacking in the UK debate.
The 1947 Commission noted that "so far... the Press has not developed the internal organisation necessary for the regulation of its own affairs".
The 2003 House of Commons Select Committee on CMS concluded in much the same fashion.
A second aspect - community sanction or public recognition - is also unlikely, argues Tunstall.
Whilst there are some superstars, most journalists do fairly ordinary work in local and regional papers.
Journalism - he continues - will become more like acting, with large numbers of 'resting' journalists.

New views of professionalization

As we can see from the preceding, neither the trait-based view of professionalisation, nor the market closure version, make sense when applied to UK journalism.
However, we can think of professionalisation in other sense - as a means of ensuring control over members using minimally coercive methods (the reference here is to Foucault).
It is in this sense that the authors believe that the discourse of professionalisation has been used, not so much by journalists themselves, but by managers.

The key claim is this:
"Despite the rejection of ‘professional’ styles of collective occupational control, being ‘professional’ is a prominent component of news journalists’
occupational ideology. The pivot is applying the canons of ‘objectivity’: the separation of news and comment; of ‘facts’ and value-infused commentary." (p. 558).
Management enters through changes in the mode of production:
"Newsrooms are open-plan, so reporters are always under the eye of middle management". Stories can be seen online by senior managers whilst they are being written.
This intensive scrutiny and surveillance is miles away from the constructed discourse that surrounds journalism - which journalists themselves concoct and re-create.
"As professional story tellers it is hardly surprising that journalists have an unusually elaborate and frequently paraded occupational belief
system in which rugged individualism, frightening but charismatic editors, and outrageous behaviour are central themes. Indeed we have argued elsewhere (Aldridge 1998) that this self-image as autonomous, insouciant – even mildly deviant – is clung to and embellished precisely
because the work is increasingly routine and constrained. And journalism is an intensely reflexive occupation which constantly talks to and about itself. Apart from the compulsive consumption of competitors’ output, there is an increasing volume of media industry news in trade magazines and national newspapers themselves. Taken together with the reminiscence that is a staple of British Journalism Review and the constant supply of autobiography, there is plenty to sustain the occupational culture" (p.560)

But journalists have done more than just incorporate this into a mental image of their occupation as a skilled craft.
Aldridge and Everett write that "At the level of the actor, it is hard to imagine a graduate workforce identifying with the traditional posture of the journalist as social outsider" - but the data they cite are the same data used by Delano (specifically, those questions on journalists' social status compared to other occupations), who was ambivalent about concluding that there was a desire for professionalisation.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Ex-Brown aide regrets BBC battle

BBC reports that a former Brown aide now believes that the row over Gilligan damaged trust in the government. Now there's a shocker. Quick, someone investigate whether ursine animals defecate in woodland areas...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

New book on the lack of pluralism, bias at RTVE

Alicia G. Montano today publishes La manipulación en Televisión, a book on the "weakness of pluralism and independence" suffered by RTVE over the past thirty years.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Béatrice Schonberg and the 52 UMP deputies

Weekend journalist is married to government minister. Journalist is suspended. 52 deputies belonging to the party of government support her. The journalists' union says to the deputies, bugger off, this isn't your fight. Excellent reply. I must learn more about the Société des Journalistes.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Beppe Grillo's Blog

In the same week that two key nominations are made "in full autonomy", according to Petruccioli, "nomine politiche", according to La Russa, Beppe Grillo writes about another route to power in Rai: nepotism.

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Irish broadcasting reform - consultation online

The Irish government launches an online consultation exercise
on reform of broadcasting legislation. More to follow on the details of the reform...

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Radicals, Rai

Daniele Cappezzone, secretary of the Italian radicals last week broke the news of a list of names for the positions in rai's news bulletins. Now, he gives us a very entertaining schematic of how politicians value these posts. It's incredibly detailed, and, if true to the facts, would show an astonishing level of interest and interference in Rai. (The title of the second article is a reference to the Cencelli manual, an informal rule which governed the allocation of posts in the cabinet in proportion to their importance and each party's vote share).

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

New resources

I'm as happy as a pig in mud trawling through the EUI library for new books for my research. Have found that the library has an excellent reference guide for the French Media, called MédiaSIG - this should be useful for calculating rates of turnover in France Télévisions and seeing whether they follow what might be termed a 'political logic'.

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List of Rai nominees found circulating in Parliament.

Awful, unsurprising.

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Friday, September 01, 2006

Late-summer Games kick-off at Rai

Fighting over Rai's future direction has increased in tempo over the past few days. There are two levels: first, the administrative council, where the Treasury's representative, Angelo Maria Petroni, has been subject to some pressure to resign. Il Giornale talks of 'the operation to take-over Rai', and quotes Sandro Curzi, left-wing member of the Council. It's unclear however whether this 'take-over' has deep roots: Romano Prodi claims that, if the left has a plan for Rai, he doesn't know about it, and quips that, in any event, the Lebanese problem is easier to solve than the problem of Rai.

The second level is the executive level. Director-General Claudio Cappon must make a series of nominations to key posts in Rai. The first batch of nominations will be voted on by the Council of Administration meeting on September 6th; it will be important to see whether Cappon's nominations are all approved, and if so, by what majorities.

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