Looking farther, looking back: journalism on underreported global issues and its use of cultural memory

Activity: Supervision


Cultural memory, which journalists use in news production is a crucial component of journalism. Journalists appear to depend solely on current affairs in generating what are routinely called the first drafts of history, but in fact, news narratives regularly include collective memories among their building blocks. This is overt in the predominant ways that journalism is performed, for instance within mainstream news organizations. The relationship between cultural memory and the news, however, is largely unexamined in the context of an emerging type of journalism — one dedicated to the coverage of underreported global issues. Conceptual clarity is in the first place absent from attempts to define journalistic underreporting. Scholarly literature, moreover, scarcely explains and much less discusses journalism’s responses to the phenomenon. This study therefore seeks to arrive at a broad definition of journalistic underreporting, account for its dynamics, and explain the novel kind of journalism that is designed to solve it en route to exploring how journalistic organizations dedicated to publicizing underreported global issues marshal cultural memory in news construction. This study draws from 500 rounds of qualitative content analysis and critical discourse analysis of a corpora including 168 (a) institutional website texts and online news articles from global news organizations and journalism think tanks, and (b) transcripts of interviews with key informants including global news reporters and editors, and journalism thought leaders. Since evidence suggests that journalists operate not only with agency but also amid external determinants of news production, theories and models such as Agenda-Setting, Gatekeeping, Discourse, the Propaganda Model, and Media Capture, in addition to concepts from media and memory sciences frame this study. The results will have implications on the practices of covering and advocating for attention to underreported issues, on the explanation of journalistic concepts and theories, and on understanding journalism as memory work.
Held atFaculty of Human Sciences