How journalists “realize” facts: Epistemology in practice at press conferences

Yigal Godler, Zvi Reich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

The degree to which journalists realize their most basic societal role and provide fact-based accounts has been a point of contestation between several camps. While adherents to the notion of the social construction of reality have infused scholarly discourse with far-reaching doubts about journalists’ ability to report facts, emphasizing the arbitrariness of their practices, pragmatic theorists of knowledge and realists, a minority among journalism scholars, have distinguished between practices more and less conducive to the goal of truth. The current paper presents findings from an exploratory study conducted in Israel, in which news-gathering practices are directly observed at controversy-laden press conferences. This arena avails a thorough observation of journalist-source exchanges, without breaching the principle of source confidentiality. The practices observed are juxtaposed against the news products, alongside reporters’ own comments on their work and reasoning. We suggest that a pragmatic conception of knowledge among journalists is compatible with observable practices such as reporters’ questioning tactics and choices of interrogative emphases, more so than journalistic notions of realism and the social construction of reality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)674-689
Number of pages16
JournalJournalism Practice
Volume7
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 22 Apr 2013

Keywords

  • Epistemology
  • Israel
  • Journalism
  • News practices
  • Pragmatism
  • Press conferences
  • Social construction of reality
  • Sociology of knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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