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New(s) Challenges!—Old Patterns? Structural Transformation and TV News in a Mediatized World

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Part of the Transforming Communications – Studies in Cross-Media Research book series (TCSCMR)

Abstract

This chapter applies Harvey Sack’s apparatus of Membership Categorization Analysis (MCA) to the TV news coverage of an incident that took place in Ukraine in 2014. The aim is to demonstrate how established mass media face new challenges to professional journalism caused by an ongoing structural change of the public sphere. One main reason for this change is the development of social media that enables ordinary people from around the world to publish pictures, videos, and comments, for example, concerning international conflicts. Mass media’s monopoly of coverage has begun to sway as news journalists must today, more than in the past, anticipate multiple accounts of a news story that can no longer be presented in a classical black-and-white scheme. The media’s inherent logic has changed and adapted to new circumstances. With the help of Sack’s Membership Categorization Analysis we can identify different categorization devices and corresponding category-bound activities that show how journalists keep their coverage inference-rich and open to a multiplicity of accounts. This fits to new dimensions of international conflicts becoming more and more asymmetric and fragmented and that include discourses of war, crime, and politics. Mass media does no longer only constitute a news-community by suppling viewer with a canonic and coherent set of knowledge of everyday life, but changes its fundamental logic as it imagines different communities with which their news have to interfere.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Verstehen Sie noch, worum es geht? DIE ZEIT, February 25, 2016.

  2. 2.

    The transcripts of news texts that will be referred to later have been taken from the channel’s online media library. Unfortunately due to legal changes the mentioned episodes concerning the OSCE incident are no longer retrievable. They are still available for scientific research via the channel’s rights management department.

  3. 3.

    Translation of a conversation to be found in field notes from a newsroom ethnography conducted by the author in 2014. To be found in the appendix of Liefke (2014).

  4. 4.

    “Die Leute lassen sich lieber unterhalten” Interview with Elmar Theveßen DIE ZEIT, 29/2015.

  5. 5.

    Russia Today is a Russian government–funded media company that publishes news via internet and TV in different languages often criticized for spreading disinformation or being a propaganda outlet for the Russian government.

  6. 6.

    The author tried to translate the German expressions used in the quoted media as precise as possible. As connotations may vary, the original German expression(s) is (are) always added in brackets.

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Correspondence to Mirco Liefke .

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Liefke, M. (2018). New(s) Challenges!—Old Patterns? Structural Transformation and TV News in a Mediatized World. In: Thimm, C., Anastasiadis, M., Einspänner-Pflock, J. (eds) Media Logic(s) Revisited. Transforming Communications – Studies in Cross-Media Research. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-65756-1_12

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