Journalism and public discourse

Navigating complexity

Authored by: Martin Conboy , Scott A. Eldridge

The Routledge Handbook of Language and Media

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138014176
eBook ISBN: 9781315673134
Adobe ISBN:


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Modern democratic societies have come to depend on some form of foundational assumptions about the involvement of the public in political decision-making. This inscribing of a public, defined as wider than the legislative and judicial bodies themselves, into journalism was key to both the legitimation of democratic processes and as a conduit to knowledge of the decision-making processes themselves. Journalism has over time increasingly claimed to be a core contribution to both those processes. It informed the public and it involved the public. In addition, it developed arguments to sustain its own commercial survival as a surveyor of the activities of the powerful and the privileged in society. Moreover, journalism has always had a strong incentive to address a public, not least because of its ever-present economic imperative to make money by constructing and maintaining audiences. This strong commercial basis has meant that journalism would survive only by identifying a variety of social groupings as a public and in articulating the specifics of those groupings in their language or discourse.

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