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The Newsroom

A Space of Decision Making

María Francisca Greene González

Journalists are in the daily business of making the unseen visible, of connecting us to the world beyond our direct experience. In doing this, objectivity becomes a pivotal issue, and a highly debated topic both in academia and everyday life. The first systematic approach to the issue of objectivity was initiated by the discipline of «mass media sociology»: this approach, which was at its peak between 1970 and 1980 in the United States, proposed a completely scientific, «mathematical» solution to the problem of objectivity.

This book is an overview of academic work on journalistic objectivity between the 1970s and 1980s by American mass media sociologists such as Herbert Gans, Gaye Tuchman, Mark Fishman, Todd Gitlin, Edward Epstein, Harvey Molotoch, Marilyn Lester and Michael Schudson, observing and comparing their positions on journalistic routines and their influence on the news.

The ideal of objectivity is discussed from the points of view of the traditional and sociological schools, and weighed against the constant tension between a journalist's search for truth and their perception of it, as well as the constraints posed by the organization for which he or she works.

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Chapter 2: Routines as a Work Method


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Routines as a Work Method

If mass media sociologists are interested in the news-making process as to how it is granted objectivity, and routine is a fundamental issue in this process, then it is necessary to take an in-depth look at this latter concept. Hence, the concept of routine in all professions must be analyzed, which is studied by the theory of organization in general, and then a specific look will be taken at routine in journalism. These two subjects constitute the first part of this chapter. In addition to mass media sociologists other authors have been included who deal with the subject of routines and make valuable contributions. The goal, then, is to research journalistic routines, their origin, typologies and features that the authors expound on.

The concepts of journalistic routines, habits, procedures, work agreements, conventions, professional practices and methods are recurrent terms in this chapter, whose meanings have different nuances; nonetheless, for the purpose of this study, they will be used as synonyms.1

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