Professional roles and news construction: A media sociology conceptualization of journalists’ role conception and performance

Lea Hellmueller, Claudia Mellado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations

Abstract

Journalists’ professional roles entail an important research area, which enhances knowledge on journalism’s attempted impact on political and democratic life. Journalism scholars, however, tend not to study journalistic professional roles from its impact on news content but focus on journalists’ conception of their role concluding that the way journalists conceive of their role will eventually shape the stories they produce. Hence, the link between role conception and role performance (i.e., its impact on news) has caught more attention as a justification of research interest than as loci of empirical examination. This conceptual paper revisits this assumption, arguing for an indepth discussion of what the concept of professional role entails to understand its manifestation in news. As journalistic performance must be considered a collective outcome, this article addresses the concept of professional role from its relationship to structural characteristics of media work. Our approach suggests a media sociology conceptualization of professional roles that takes into consideration the gatekeeping context, and most importantly the organizational and societal levels, when analyzing professional roles of journalists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalCommunication and Society
Volume28
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Gatekeeping theory
  • Professional roles
  • Role conception
  • Role performance
  • Sociology of news

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