2014

Illuminate/Interrogate: reflections on the « ins » and « outs » of newsroom ethnography
 

Illuminate/Interrogate: reflections on the « ins » and « outs » of newsroom ethnography

Le 20 mars 2014, 17h15, Anthropole, salle 3021 / entrée libre, conférence de M. Geert Jacobs Ghent, University - Department of Linguistics, NewsTalk&Text research group:

Illuminate/Interrogate: reflections on the « ins » and « outs » of newsroom ethnography
In a new essay entitled « Why Ethnography Matters », Didier Fassin argues that ethnography is particularly relevant in the understudied regions of society, but can be significant also in spaces saturated by consensual meanings: "in the first case, it illuminates the unknown: in the second, it interrogates the obvious ". He concludes that « to play its possible social role, ethnography must be simultaneously critical and public » (2013: 642)

Drawing on wide-ranging linguistic ethnographic work in the area of news production conducted by the Ghent-based NT&T research group (see NT&T 2011), I propose to reflect on the challenges involved in realizing this double ambition of going critical and public at the same time. I will initiate the discussion by presenting data from team fieldwork conducted in the spring of 2009 in the TV newsroom of the RTBF, Belgium's French-language public broadcasting corporation in Brussels (cf. also Tobback & Jacobs 2013). I will argue that as the mainstream news media that we investigate are both « understudied » and « saturated by consensual meaning », our work can (and should) both illuminate the unknown and interrogate the obvious. In doing so, it can hopefully contribute to the promising new field of media linguistics, which argues that no analysis of the language of the news can be complete without a thorough consideration of the contextual dynamics in which it has emerged (Perrin 2013).

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