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Instrumental Actualization

Uwe Hartung


Instrumental actualization is first and foremost an approach to journalists’ news selection. The notion was formulated by Hans Mathias Kepplinger to explain the effect of journalists’ (political) opinions on news content. As an approach to news selection, instrumental actualization continues and complements approaches such as →  gatekeeping , →  news factors , and →  news values . The theory of instrumental actualization makes four basic assumptions . First, it assumes that journalists hold opinions, share values, and advocate positions. Second, it holds that all (or most) events have inherent in them a political or conflict-related valence. That is to say, they are helpful for one side of a political issue, and bad for the other. For example, a news story on the failure of an educational program issued by an administration would provide the critics of this administration with arguments and be considered a challenge for its supporters. In other words, the central object of a conflict is linked to any number of events that have different instrumental qualities related (objectively or subjectively) to the central object. Thus, the instrumental quality of a news story is to be distinguished from its evaluation. Third, consciously or (much more often) subconsciously, journalists will ascribe a higher news value to stories that support their worldviews and conflict positions. According ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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