The battle within : a mixed methods exploration into political journalism and role strain
Research into journalistic roles has received world-wide attention. What tends to be underrepresented in these studies are the challenges that journalists must overcome in fulfilling their idealized roles. Therefore, this study uses a theoretical framework that accounts for influences to news production, sensemaking, and emotionality to explore how U.S. political journalists make sense of role strain. By employing a mixed methods design, this study is able to provide both generalizable findings and rich description that supports and expands on quantitative findings. Findings from the survey reveal that political journalists view an informational role as most important to their work, followed by a monitorial role. They also perceive time and money restriction as the biggest limitation to their job. Follow-up interviews with survey participants illustrate that as journalists make sense of challenges to their ideal roles, they interpret each situation by foregrounding their identity as a journalist. Based on their intepretations, they assimilate, reaffirm their ideal roles, or alter their role through a role negotiation process. Additionally, journalists try to proactively and reactively manage affiliated emotions. Findings contribute to understandings of the discursive construction of roles by examining the journalists' sensemaking process surrounding role strain. This study begins to bridge the gap between ideal roles and practice by providing an exploratory examination into the role enactment process.
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