Newsroom as a Social Setting: An Ethnographic Study of Workplace Social Interaction and Professionalism in Fana Broadcasting Corporate

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Addis Ababa University


Journalism is both an institutional and professional exercI se where news making can be understood as both an in stitutional routine and interpretative reportage of the social world. As with any other profess ion, however, news making is subject to the social dynamics that prevails within the professional milieu. Such interaction between disciplinary, institutional, and social factors calls for a need to study the inside story of the journalistic world: how the bureaucratic, institutional factors intervene with the final product of news. To this end, the study aimed at scrutini zing social and in st itutional factors at play in the day to day news making endeavor. The study was also informed by the concept of ' reflexive sociology' which is often used in studying espec ially as it applies to the sociology of work and the universe of journali sm. Th is theoreti cal framework conceptualizes profess ional settings, in general and journali sm in particular, as ' un, iverses' whereby social and economic and structural factors interact with other universes and Doxa , ritual, and social capital playa pivotal role in defining practical realiti es. What is more, qualitati ve study des ign was employed in order to address the resea rch; within this, an ethnographic approach and interviewing were used as two important tools to gath er the data. Accordin gly, parti cipant observation was conducted in the ed itori al meetings and news production processes in the news-magazme department of Fana broadcasting Corporate for nearly two months. Besides, semi-structured, semi-formal interviews were carri ed out with 12 key info rmants. The fi ndings reveal that, social sensitivity; focus on the identification of wrong doings, and sensitivi ty to authority fi gures were considered as important virtues in news making process at the target media house. Even though much of journa lists' profess ion al stand ards in synchroni ze 1 with that of professional journali sm, such standa rds and princ ipl es were found to be based on , ritualistic underpinnings than cogent professional rationales. The study also ident ifi ed a great deal of predictabili ty of news while covel'lng government institutions and authori ty fi gures. Other media houses and listenership were al so found to be factors that the newsroom took into consideration while making journalistic decisions. In addition, high level of conformity to seniority was observed among journalists working in the newsroom.



Workplace Social Interaction