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

Research Assistant Alumni