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Journalists’ Role Perception

Wolfgang Donsbach


An important concept to apply in describing how journalists in different cultures and media systems understand their work and its social function is role perceptions . These can have a strong influence on journalists’ professional behavior and thus can explain differences between news cultures. The term “role” originates from theater, and sociology adopted the term to designate the whole set of expectations that other people have of the holder of a certain social position. Those expectations then create the perceptions that the holders of the roles have in their social environment and accept as legitimate, and consequently their perceptions guide their attitudes and behaviors. Thus, journalists’ role perceptions can be defined as generalized expectations which journalists believe exist in society and among different stakeholders, which they see as normatively acceptable, and which influence their behavior on the job. Journalists’ role perceptions have been studied primarily for news workers involved in covering politics and current affairs. The research assumes that the way journalists understand their role will influence considerably the way they interact with news sources and make decisions about news selection and presentation. In a causal model of factors influencing news decisions, role perceptions become an intervening variable that moderates the influence of primary variables ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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