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Framing media mergers in France and the United States
Unformatted Document Text:  Framing media mergers in France and the United States 5 because in the eyes of many it was deemed to be unfalsifiable. The critics argued that, according to neo-marxist tenets, all media outputs could be explained as either intentional indoctrination or decoys – fig leafs covering the media’s shame. American journalists’ view of themselves as reflected in a survey carried out in 1991 does not necessarily conform to the scholarly view of them (Weaver and Wilhoit, 1997); it seems that the two groups also hold a different normative view of the profession. While political and media theorists believe journalists should watch over business and government, “only a small minority of journalists see the adversary role – directed at either government or business – as extremely important” (Weaver and Wilhoit, 1997, 25), and almost a majority of those surveyed reject an agenda-setting role for the media. This rejection, of course, does not mean that agenda-setting is not done in practice: “there is … a perceptual gap between journalists’ self image and their actions and it leads them to reject any suggestion that they are politically biased” (Patterson and Dornbach, 1996, 466). This conclusion was based on a survey and quasi-experiment administered to journalists in five Western countries. The same survey claimed that the “hues of journalists’ partisanship tend to shade the news rather than coloring it deeply” (463) 4 . Not surprisingly, most American and European journalists considered ‘objectivity’ to be extremely important. At the same time, mainland European, British and American journalists all held divergent definitions of this seemingly clear concept (Patterson, 1998, 21). While a large plurality of the American journalists surveyed and a smaller plurality of their British counterparts defined objectivity as “expressing fairly the position of each side in a political dispute”, a large majority of Swedish journalists defined the same very 4 Journalists – reporters and editors alike - answering the mail-survey were asked to consider four situations and 17 different editorial decisions. These decisions contained what the research designers considered to be a partisan slant.

Authors: Davidson, Roei.
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Framing media mergers in France and the United States
5
because in the eyes of many it was deemed to be unfalsifiable. The critics argued that,
according to neo-marxist tenets, all media outputs could be explained as either intentional
indoctrination or decoys – fig leafs covering the media’s shame.
American journalists’ view of themselves as reflected in a survey carried out in 1991
does not necessarily conform to the scholarly view of them (Weaver and Wilhoit, 1997);
it seems that the two groups also hold a different normative view of the profession. While
political and media theorists believe journalists should watch over business and
government, “only a small minority of journalists see the adversary role – directed at
either government or business – as extremely important” (Weaver and Wilhoit, 1997, 25),
and almost a majority of those surveyed reject an agenda-setting role for the media.
This rejection, of course, does not mean that agenda-setting is not done in practice: “there
is … a perceptual gap between journalists’ self image and their actions and it leads them
to reject any suggestion that they are politically biased” (Patterson and Dornbach, 1996,
466). This conclusion was based on a survey and quasi-experiment administered to
journalists in five Western countries. The same survey claimed that the “hues of
journalists’ partisanship tend to shade the news rather than coloring it deeply” (463)
4
. Not
surprisingly, most American and European journalists considered ‘objectivity’ to be
extremely important. At the same time, mainland European, British and American
journalists all held divergent definitions of this seemingly clear concept (Patterson, 1998,
21). While a large plurality of the American journalists surveyed and a smaller plurality
of their British counterparts defined objectivity as “expressing fairly the position of each
side in a political dispute”, a large majority of Swedish journalists defined the same very
4
Journalists – reporters and editors alike - answering the mail-survey were asked to consider four situations
and 17 different editorial decisions. These decisions contained what the research designers considered to be
a partisan slant.


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