Journalist-Source Relations, Mediated Reflexivity and the Politics of Politics

Davis, Aeron. 2009. Journalist-Source Relations, Mediated Reflexivity and the Politics of Politics. Journalism Studies, 10(2), pp. 204-219. ISSN 1461-670X [Article]

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This essay discusses journalist-source relations but with an emphasis on how such relations influence the understanding and behaviour of politicians. It explores the issue through empirical work conducted at the site of the UK Parliament at Westminster. Findings are based on semistructured interviews with 60 Members of Parliament (MPs) and 20 national political journalists. The research findings initially confirmed many of the observations of earlier studies in the field. UK journalist-source relations still resemble Gans’ (1979) original ‘‘tug-of-war’’ description of an evershifting power balance between the two sides. Such interactions, in turn, are reflected in more compliant or adversarial news coverage. Of greater interest here, the interviews also revealed that such relations have come to play a significant role in the micro-level politics of the political sphere itself. This is because reporter-politician relations and objectives have become institutionalised, intense and subject to a form of ‘‘mediated reflexivity’’. Consequently, politicians have come to incorporate such reporter interactions into their daily thinking and behaviour. As such, journalists are seen as more than a simple means of message promotion to the public. They also act, often inadvertently, as information intermediaries and sources for politicians trying to gauge daily developments within their own political arena.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies
Research Office > REF2014
Media, Communications and Cultural Studies > Goldsmiths Leverhulme Media Research Centre


25 February 2009Published

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Date Deposited:

13 Oct 2011 12:19

Last Modified:

27 Feb 2019 12:20

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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