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TV News Anchors and Journalistic Tradition

How Journalists Adapt to Technology

Kimberly Meltzer

Through the lens of TV news anchors, this book examines the impact that television news has had on traditional journalistic standards and practices. While TV news anchors boost the power, adulation, and authority of journalism in general, internally, the journalistic community feels that anchors undermine many key journalistic values. This book provides a historical overview of the impact they have had on American journalism, uncovering the changing values, codes of behavior, and boundaries of the journalistic community. In doing so, it reveals that challenges to journalistic standards provide an opportunity to engage in debate that is central to maintaining journalism’s identity, and demonstrate the ability of the community to self-regulate. The result is that news anchors are kept in check by the community, and the community is prompted to reexamine itself and evolve. The book’s findings also offer suggestions for thinking about how journalists are dealing with the latest technological challenges posed by the internet and mobile technology.


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CHAPTER 5: How Journalism Restores Order When Its Borders of Practice Are Crossed 147


Chapter 5 How Journalism Restores Order When Its Borders of Practice Are Crossed he previous chapters discussed the elements that television introduced into journalism and the ways that these elements stretched the boundaries of the journalism community to the pleasure or chagrin of community members. However, even when the community expresses its displeasure over the effects of some of these television dimensions, it allows them to exist, acknowledging them as necessary evils. In contrast to these disliked but accepted features of television journalism, there are other occasions when television journalists act in ways that go beyond community toleration. These actions violate community mores and etiquette, and over the decades of TV journalism, the community has developed ways of dealing with them. Similar to Breed’s (1955) conception of social control in the newsroom, community dialogue provides the unwritten rules journalists learn by listening and observing what happens to others. When journalistic standards are perceived as having been breached by a television journalist, community boundary maintenance takes place. Some scholars have referred to this phenomenon as “paradigm repair” (Bennett et al., 1985; Berkowitz, 2000; Reese, 1990; Hindman, 2005; Cecil, 2002). In Reese’s conception (1990), the news paradigm is an occupational ideology whose major feature is the principle of objectivity and which provides an accepted model and practical guide for journalists’ behavior. Bennett et al. (1985: 55 in Reese, 1990: 391) have observed that “like all paradigms, the news model faces the problem of ‘anomalous or troublesome cases that fall partly within the...

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