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Date Submitted: 09/29/2012 11:20 PM

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Working paper. Do not cite. Comments are welcome.


Tom Van Hout & Felicitas Macgilchrist


This paper tracks the newsmaking process from the initial entry of a story into the newsroom (in the form of a press release) through the meso-level process of editorial decision-making (in the form of story meetings) and the micro-level process of re-writing to the ''final'' output articulated for the consumers of financial news. Whereas previous studies of journalism have tended to focus on either news texts or news processes (cf. Zelizer 2004), this paper analyses both the textual and process aspects of news-writing. These discursive practices are investigated by adopting a research methodology which combines frame analysis (Gamson & Modigliani 1989), participant observation (Cottle 1998) and writing process analysis (Perrin 2006). Analyzing the frames in the source text, we examine to what extent journalists draw on the frames to pitch their story to the copy desk chief, while keystroke logging data and retrospective interviews allow us to reconstruct and interpret the writing process in detail. In a final analytical move, the published news story frames are compared to the original text. The case study we present here is drawn from ethnographic research on newsroom practices at a Flemish quality newspaper and suggests how an understanding of journalistic practices aids the analysis of news production.

Author contact details:

Tom Van Hout

Ghent University

Felicitas Macgilchrist

European-University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder

1. Introduction

This paper focuses on the discursive practices of a business reporter as he discovers, negotiates, writes and reflects on a news story. We thus “follow the story” (Boyer & Hannerz 2006: 13) from the story entry in the newsroom through the...

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