Knowledge-production in journalism: Translation, mediation and authorship in Brazil

[Nuevo artículo de Tomás Undurrage en The Sociological Review]

“Knowledge-production in journalism: Translation, mediation and authorship in Brazil”

Tomás Undurraga

Abstract

Based on a multi-site ethnography of two influential newspapers in Brazil, this article examines how Brazilian journalists mediate knowledge claims made by experts, policy makers and the lay public. It asks whether and how these journalists experience themselves as knowledge-makers. More specifically, it argues that Brazilian journalists index their production of knowledge in reference to four main characteristics: depth, authorship, influence, and expertise. Journalists tend to consider newsmaking a contribution to knowledge when: (1) they have the resources to do proper investigative reporting (depth); (2) they are able to help define the public agenda through their reporting and to express their opinion (authorship); (3) they have impact on the polity, the economy or other fields they cover (influence) and (4) their journalistic knowledge is recognized by readers and by specialists (expertise). In practice, however, there are multiple obstacles that make Brazilian journalists hesitant about their contribution to knowledge, including intensified working conditions, the lack of plurality within the mainstream presses, and their informal methods for dealing with knowledge claims from other fields. This research reveals that Brazilian journalists have different understandings of the nature of knowledge in journalism. These understandings cluster around two distinct poles: an expert notion of knowledge associated with disciplinary boundaries, and a distinct conception associated with journalists’ capacity to mediate between jurisdictions. When journalists’ production is assessed from the former point of view, the informality of their methods is seen as undermining their knowledge credentials. By contrast, when journalists’ contribution is assessed from the latter point of view, their ‘interactional expertise’ comes to the fore.

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0038026117704832?journalCode=sora


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