Serving Consumers, Citizens, or Elites: Democratic Roles of Journalism in Chilean Newspapers and Television News

Daniel C. Hallin, Claudia Mellado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Print journalism has long been seen as a key institution of democratic politics, serving to enhance transparency, provide a forum for debate, and facilitate public participation. Instead, television journalism, particularly in its commercial form, has often been seen more negatively, as a form of infotainment that contributes little to the functions of journalism as an institution of democratic citizenship. Some scholars have questioned the dichotomy between infotainment and democratic roles, however, and the existing research comparing journalistic roles in print and television has produced mixed results. Focusing on the case of Chile and making use of a standardized news content-based index of journalistic roles, this study compares the prevalence of three professional roles by medium—newspapers and television—and also by audience orientation—popular and elite media across both print and television news. Our results show that commercial television in Chile is higher than print media in the performance of the watchdog and civic roles, and the infotainment role is positively, not negatively, correlated with these. We discuss the implication of these findings in light of the literature on infotainment and citizenship, as well as the emerging body of research on journalistic role performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-43
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Press/Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Journalistic role performance
  • Latin America
  • democracy
  • journalism
  • print news
  • television news


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