Toronto Metropolitan University
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Just who do Canadian journalists think they are? Political role conceptions in global and historical perspective

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posted on 2023-09-06, 19:31 authored by Heather RollwagenHeather Rollwagen, Ivor ShapiroIvor Shapiro, Geneviève Bonin-Labelle, Lindsay Fitzgerald, Lauriane Tremblay
In view of the robust link often inferred between autonomous journalism and the strength of a society's democratic institutions, and against the background of current challenges to journalists' traditional roles as purveyors of timely and independent information, we interviewed 352 Canadian journalists about their social and political roles and the influences on their news choices. Comparison of their responses against an international dataset (N=27,567) suggests that Canadian journalists place greater value on detached monitorial roles and claim relative autonomy from commercial and other influences on their work. Further, in comparing these findings to an influential panel study from 1999 to 2003, we conclude that the Canadian journalists' “credo," focused on neutral reporting and oriented more to perceived public interest than to business or audience interests, remains surprisingly intact despite contemporary pressures on news forms and business models. This professed neutrality is mitigated by a desire to promote diversity and tolerance.