Making news of value: exploiting dissonances in economic journalism

[Nuevo artículo de Tomás Undurraga en Journal of Cultural Economy]

Making news of value: exploiting dissonances in economic journalism

Tomás Undurraga


This article explores the multiple modes of valuation that pervade newsmaking in economic journalism. It does so by exploring the different ways in which journalists at Valor Econômico, the leading economic newspaper in Brazil, compete and cooperate in the production of news. Valor is a paradigmatic case for discussing valuation practices in newsmaking since its institutional promise is to produce news of value. How, if at all, do Valor journalists embrace the promise of producing news that generates value? Elaborating on Stark’s (2009. The sense of dissonance. Accounts of worth in economic life. Princeton University Press) idea of dissonance, it is contended that different orders of worth collide and cooperate within Valor newsroom. Moreover, journalists engage in a variety of valuation practices through which these orders of worth are shaped, defined, and refined, reflecting different understandings of economy and society, and different conceptions of what journalism is good for. I argue that Valor’s direction intentionally fosters a plural space of value dissonance in order to improve the quality of news reporting. I emphasise, however, that these dissonances are only productive against a larger background of consonance about what actually there is to disagree about. The article is based on a seven-month ethnography of Valor’s newsroom in São Paulo between 2013 and 2015.

KEYWORDS: Value, valuation, value plurality, knowledge economy, journalism, media, ethnography, dissonance, heterarchical organisations, orders of worth, singularities, Brazil

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