The time is now

7 03 2008

12 months. That’s the time I have left to write up my PhD thesis. The plan is to submit my ethnography of news production in early spring 2009, defend in June and race IM Monaco in September. Why inflict an ethnography of news production on the world you ask?

The rationale is simple, really. If, in the words of Mary Talbot,

the media have largely replaced older institutions (such as the Church, or trade unions) as the primary source of understanding the world

then surely, it is worthwile studying how journalists actually produce media discourse. What knowledge do journalists produce when they write business news? How do journalists write (from sources)? Which and whose views count as business news? These are some of the research questions I hope to answer.

Theoretically, I want to contribute to theory formation in journalism, pragmatics, media anthropology, business communication and – to a lesser extent – writing research by documenting agency in the immediate context of desktop news production. Methodologically, I want to illustrate how (linguistic) ethnography complements writing process analysis and vice versa. Empirically, I want to add a discursive dimension to the (textual) notion of preformulation and reconceptualize the concept of journalistic authority – traditionally derived from eyewitnessing reports (“having been there”), cf. the prestige of war correspondents à la Peter Arnett – to a matter of source entextualization (“having read this”).

I realize that all the above sounds blasé, but it is driven by an interest in news media. And yes, when this is all over, I’ll try to find a real job. But don’t quote me on that.



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