The Fading Public Voice: The polarizing effect of commercialization on political and other beats and its democratic consequences

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Abstract

The increasing commercialization of media markets in Denmark and abroad have led to concerns about journalism's role in democracy. In discussions about the influence of budget cuts and increased competition on the way journalists work, the difference between political journalists and other journalists is often disregarded. This paper argues that commercialization has a polarizing effect. It strengthens the political beat at the expense of other beats, as political news is cost-effective and a way for outlets to brand themselves. Representative surveys among parliamentary reporters and other Danish journalists confirm that commercial pressures affect political journalists less than other journalists, even those working in other prestigious beats. This has negative implications from the viewpoint of participatory democracy; while other journalists emphasize a role as promoters of a citizen perspective, parliamentary journalists see it as their main role to demand accountability rather than responsiveness of politicians.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournalism Studies
Volume14
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)371-386
ISSN1461-670X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1. Jun 2013

Keywords

  • beat reporters
  • commercialization
  • democracy journalism survey
  • political journalism
  • role conceptions

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