by lindsay

Project Explainer

Determining the significance and prominence of the gap between journalistic ideals and practice is the focus of the second wave of the Journalistic Role Performance (JRP) project, a cooperative effort involving 37 countries from the Global North and South. This potential gap is being measured by examining journalists’ attitudes (through surveys) and their professional practice (through content analysis), to identify the ways in which different journalistic roles are present in the news content of television, radio, print, and online media, and the influence that different media systems might have on the performance of these roles across platforms.

For analysis, journalistic roles are divided into six dimensions. The first is the interventionist role, where a journalist self-inserts into the narrative by taking a side or promoting an action. The second and third roles consider power relations — the watchdog’s role includes critiquing the government, while the loyal facilitator supports government narratives. The last three roles examine the relationship a journalist has with its audience: in the service role, journalists cover anything from consumer tips to food and health recommendations; in the infotainment role, reporters create content that is designed to entertain, and does not always inform; and finally, in the civic role, coverage centres on the perspectives and rights of citizens.

In Canada, there are 12 sites of study from English and French media: The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post, La Presse, CBC.ca, HuffPost Canada, CBC Radio’s World Report, Radio Canada’s l’heure du monde, CTV National News, CBC’s The National, Global National, and TVA Nouvelles.

Over the past decade much attention has been paid to theorizing the different concepts that come into play when we analyze journalistic role performance. For example, how do these roles manifest in both news decisions and news outcomes that reach the public? In this respect, journalistic role performance studies offer us with more diverse perspectives on the practice of journalism around the world, particularly in countries where evaluative elements are less articulated in practice. A recently released book, Beyond Journalistic Norms, edited by leading researcher Claudia Mellado, highlights findings from the first wave and differences between “normative visions and actual practices.” To learn more about how the research was performed in Canada check out the methodology section.

Meet the Team


Research Assistants

Anna-Maria Moubayed

Anna-Maria Moubayed is a student at Toronto Metropolitan’s School of Journalism. As a writer at The Eyeopener, CanCulture, and Noteworthy she is interested in reporting about arts, culture, and politics. Aside from her work in journalism, she is a violinist, having performed in many orchestras and competitions.

Natalie Vilkoff

Natalie Vilkoff is a journalism student at Toronto Metropolitan’s School of Journalism. She is interested in arts, culture, and mental health advocacy. She hopes to tell stories which inspire us to look with curiosity towards the world and ourselves.

Kayla Thompson

Kayla Thompson is a student at Toronto Metropolitan’s School of Journalism. With a professional background in social media marketing, she enjoys innovating new means of consuming journalism and media online. Alongside her academic and media pursuits, she is a professional dancer specializing in various cultural dance forms.

Research Assistant Alumni

Sama Nemat Allah

Sama Nemat Allah is a Tkaronto-based second-year journalism student at TMU and the Editor-in-Chief of CanCulture magazine. Her journalistic practice hopes to amplify the voices of Black, Indigenous, racialized, queer, trans, disabled and fat folks.

Megan Seligman

Megan Seligman is a graduate of Toronto Metropolitan University’s Master of Journalism program. Her role as research assistant for the JRP Project consisted of managing a team of coders, conducting surveys, and ensuring the organization of the project’s data.

Abeer Khan

Abeer Khan is a fourth-year journalism student at TMU and Features Editor at The Eyeopener, the school’s independent student newspaper. Her reporting interests are in arts, culture, human rights and criminal justice reporting.

Meryem Sairi

Meryem Sairi is a PhD student in Public Communication at Université Laval. She conducted the survey among Francophone journalists for JRP.

Mijanou Bourque Bouliane

Mijanou Bourque Bouliane holds a Masters of Public Health. She worked as a French coder for JRP.

Alexandre Cyr

Alex worked as a French and English coder for JRP.

Norah Kim

Norah Kim is a fourth-year journalism student, Media Editor at The Eyeopener and a Web Developer at CineFAM, a film festival whose mandate is to promote WOC filmmakers.

Swidda Rassy

Swidda Rassy is a master of journalism candidate at Toronto Metropolitan University She worked as an English coder for JRP.

Natasha Budhai

Natasha Budhai is a student at Toronto Metropolitans’ School of Journalism. Her reporting interests include advocacy, activism, and humanitarian journalism, arts, culture, broadcast and documentary. She hopes to change the world for the better with her writing.

Emily Latimer

Emily Latimer is a freelance writer and fact-checker based in Nova Scotia.