Journalists and Professional Groupthink

Surveys among journalists in different countries - such as comparable media systems in The Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Australia, and the United States - shows how journalists all over the world share similar views on their role in society in terms of what they feel are the most important aspects of their work. Topping the charts in all countries is an orientation towards explaining the news and getting the news out quickly. The American surveys in the last decades show that the interpretive role of journalists is becoming more popular. Although most countries do not have a similar history of longitudinal surveys among journalists, the available publications suggest that this conclusion can be drawn for most countries.

The graphic reprinted here (from my 2004 book "Wat is Journalistiek?"; I am using this again for the upcoming "Media Work" book) shows beautifully the striking similarity in newsworkers' views across different countries. Although the absolute percentages differ, the relative view of journalists is in fact almost uncannily the same.

The bottom line: journalism is and never will be a pluriform, dialogical profession - or better yet: a liquid journalism - providing a truly public service as long as it does not work hard to diversify its view of itself.