Soft Power, Hard News: How Journalists at State-Funded Transnational Media Legitimize Their Work

Kate Wright, Martin Scott, Mel Bunce | Sage Journals
Published: May 2020

How do journalists working for different state-funded international news organizations legitimize their relationship to the governments which support them? In what circumstances might such journalists resist the diplomatic strategies of their funding states?

We address these questions through a comparative study of journalists working for international news organizations funded by the Chinese, US, UK and Qatari governments. Using 52 interviews with journalists covering humanitarian issues, we explain how they minimized tensions between their diplomatic

role and dominant norms of journalistic autonomy by drawing on three – broadly shared – legitimizing narratives, involving different kinds of boundary-work. In the first ‘exclusionary’ narrative, journalists differentiated their ‘truthful’ news reporting from the ‘false’ state ‘propaganda’ of a common Other, the Russian-funded network, RT. In the second ‘fuzzifying’ narrative, journalists deployed the ambiguous notion of ‘soft power’ as an ambivalent ‘boundary concept’, to defuse conflicts between journalistic and diplomatic agendas. In the final ‘inversion’ narrative, journalists argued that, paradoxically, their dependence on funding states gave them greater ‘operational autonomy’. Even when journalists did resist their funding states, this was hidden or partial, and prompted less by journalists’ concerns about the political effects of their work, than by serious threats to their personal cultural capital.

Text sourced via SageRead report

Small Screen: Big Debate


Join the conversation on the future of public service broadcasting in the UK

This website will allow you to access a wide variety of research, learn more of our work in this area and submit your views directly to us on the future of public service broadcasting and media.Explore website

Reporting facts: free from fear or favour

UNESCO | Marius Dragomir
Published: 2020

Preview of In Focus report on World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development

Explore preview

Countering Disinformation

Cardiff University | Arts and Humanities Research Council

“Disinformation is a growing risk to the health of many democratic systems. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, this project will assess how leading UK public service media are counteracting it in news reporting.”

This project is the largest of its kind in the UK and focusses on the content produced by The BBC, Channel 4 ITV and Sky News. It aims to provide a “comprehensive understanding of how British public service media and audiences are

developing practices to address and counter disinformation. “Go to website

Journalism Thrives in Slovakia Despite Growing Oligarchic Control

Center for Media, Data and Society | Central European University
Published: May 2020

Slovaks have access to a plethora of news platforms, but many of them are in the hands of powerful financial corporations, closely linked with political groups. Nevertheless, swelling demand for accurate, quality information boosts the country’s independent journalism.

Slovakia is a voracious news consumer, with almost two thirds of people reading news portals, newspapers or news magazines. Much of this news appetite was stirred by technological advancement. Over 86% of people use the internet, which is a big leap

from less than 30% in the beginning of the 2010s…

Text sourced from CMDS | CEURead full report

Who Finances India’s Journalism?

Center for Media, Data and Society | Central European University
Published: June 2020

Commercial advertisers are the largest players in terms of funding spent in the media in India, but the state has also a significant role, financing the country’s public service broadcaster, shelling out public advertising money to commercial media and

holding a monopoly over the news radio market.

The news media market in India is regionally and linguistically fragmented but ownership is concentrated within a handful of large players, more so in regional geographies. It is significant that the news business is largely run and owned by individuals (and families) with primarily non-media business interests and assets…

Text sourced from CMDS | CEURead full report

Funding Journalism in Israel: Secrecy and Political Influence

Center for Media, Data and Society | Central European University
Published: June 2020

Unusual opacity is the most salient characteristic of the media system in Israel, where the involvement of political figures in media operation raises serious concerns.

At first glance, the Israeli media market seems a diverse mix of old and new, public and commercial, cable and satellite, and increasingly dominant, if not ubiquitous, digital media. But beneath the appearance of this growing diversity, there is little


Text sourced from CMDS | CEURead full report

Organisational Culture of Public Service Media: People, values, processes

Dr Michał Głowacki and Professor Lizzie Jackson

In 2015-2019 Dr Michał Głowacki and Professor Lizzie Jackson investigated the internal organisational cultures of ten successful high technology clusters in North America and Europe to identify strategies to support the evolution of Public Service Media worldwide. 
Credit: Dr Michał Głowacki and Professor Lizzie Jackson

Four media clusters were located in North America: Austin (Texas), Boston/Cambridge (Massachusetts), Detroit (Michigan) and Toronto (Canada). European clusters included London (UK), Warsaw (Poland), Copenhagen (Denmark), Brussels (Belgium), Tallinn (Estonia), and Vienna (Austria). To answer the question ‘what people, values and processes’

should Public Service Media embody going forward we found there is an urgent need for adaptation. Without internal change there is likely to be a decline in the ability of PSM to survive within the fast-evolving contemporary media and communications production and distribution landscape.Go to project report

Universalism in Public Service Media

Edited by Philip Savage, Mercedes Medina, Gregory Ferrell Lowe
Published by Nordicom

Since the start of telephony and later in broadcasting, the pursuit of universal service has legitimated the ownership and operation of media as a public trust.
RIPE@2019 book cover. Nordicom

Until the 1980s, this principle was the bedrock for the broadcasting mission and is still a mandated requirement for public media companies today. But in practice, the universalism ideal was largely abandoned in the 1980s as media deregulation promised more competition,

innovation, and vigorous economic growth. Some of this came true, but at a worrisome cost. Growing distrust in media today is partly rooted in the illusion that more media in more platforms would inevitably ensure better media in all platforms. There is now more of everything on offer except social responsibility. This collection interrogates the historic universalism mission in public service broadcasting and explores its contemporary relevance for public service media. Taking a critical perspective on media policy and performance, the volume contributes to a much-needed contemporary reassessment that clarifies the importance of universalism for equity in access and provision, trustworthy content, and inclusive participation in the context of advancing digitalisation and globalisation. The collection situates universalism as an aspirational quest and inspirational pursuit. Researchers and policy makers will find the collection valuable for conceptualisation and strategic managers will find it helpful as a principled basis in the pursuit of improved reach and value.

(Text sourced via RIPE & Nordicom)Go to book

Gender Equality and Diversity Implications of COVID-19 Crisis for Public Service Media

European Broadcasting Union

What have been the gender and diversity implications of COVID-19 for media?

“36 professionals from 24 EBU Member organisations gathered on 6 April for a virtual roundtable to discuss 5 signposted issues and share their strategies in addressing them during these unprecedented times…” – EBU

Go to report