Choosing the News: The Profit Factor in News Selection

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This unique book presents a comparative study of foreign news coverage in regional newspapers in the United States, Britain, and France. Journalistic images are quite distinct in these countries, but the news content in general, and foreign news in particular, appear to be remarkably uniform. Why is this so? Choosing the News proposes a taxonomy of factors affecting the selection of foreign news, showing how different groups of factors interact with each other. The book argues that, while profit may have become an invisible gatekeeper in the process of news selection, there are no alternative sources of media-funding that would be acceptable in democratic societies. Choosing the News is the only book of its kind to offer an in-depth examination of the self-perceptions of journalists in the United States, Britain, and France.

Part I one of the book, Journalistic Images, describes how different perceptions of journalism have developed over time in each country. It then shows how these perceptions are reinforced and perpetuated through journalism training. Finally, it tracks some of the major trends that have shaped journalism and journalistic procedures since the end of World War II, in particular group ownership, increased competition, and new technologies. Part II, Journalistic Choices, analyzes the factors that affect the selection of foreign news. Systematic content analysis of foreign news content in three regional dailies confirms that coverage has indeed become strikingly homogeneous. Participant observation and interviews with journalists and editors in each of the three countries suggest that this uniformity is the result of technological innovations introduced by profit-oriented management as group ownership has sought to contend with increased competition. The book offers a bibliography that should be useful to scholars in the field. This book can be used in schools of journalism, community libraries, and by media executives and journalists. It also makes informative reading for anyone interested in the media and media ownership.

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