JOURNALISTIC DEPLOYMENT OF EMOTIONALITY. A CROSS-NATIONAL COMPARISON
One of the core debates in journalism concerns the dichotomous division between the rational and the emotional. A dimension in which this debate visibly manifests is the professionally institutionalised emphasis on impartiality and objectivity in the Anglo-Saxon tradition of ‘hard news’ or ‘serious’ news journalism. This leads inevitably to a tension with the idea of a general emotionalization of society which has tremendously gained ground in the past years in the writings of Frank Furedi or Barry Richards who coined the term ‘emotional public sphere’.
This trend is observable internationally, but little research has been done so far to understand this phenomenon on a broader scale (e.g. by scholars like Pantti or Wahl-Jorgensen). The Ph.D. looks therefore upon the deployment and presentation of emotions in broadcast news journalism in a comparative international perspective between two cultures quite different from each other. India is known for a dramatization of news in a highly competitive television news market, while in the UK the British channels BBC and ITV leave behind old paths of reporting in search for (new) audiences.
Using a qualitative content analysis as a method, I aim to provide an account of the status of emotions in current and past news journalism. Based upon a sample of recent television news, I look upon the variety of representation or absence of emotions in the visual, sound, semantics, narratives, symbol, and subsequently the ‘(un)emotional’ discourse generated by it.
In a second step, I aim to relate the findings to professional practices of news production and the epistemology of journalists in broadcasting organizations, to question their ideas and assumptions about an ‘emotionalizing’ news coverage and its relation to the principles of objectivity. This takes into consideration the present news environment which involves fragmented audiences, citizen journalism and the pressures of multiplying media offers. The methods used for this second part of the research will be the qualitative interview, and the method of retrospective thinking aloud.
This work includes the different emotion philosophies of Western and subcontinental traditions which allows an understanding of divergent emotional concepts across cultures.
In the summer school, I aim to present the first findings of how ‘emotional’ news journalism across continents is manifested. The comparative case study design will investigate moments of different emotional intensity, like the Nairobi shopping mall attack and routine news coverage. My preliminary results shall be discussed in relation to professional practices.