Network television news and current affairs in Canada : the social contexts of production.

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Clarke, Debra M.




The thesis uses a Gramscian perspective to explore the relationship between media production and ideological reproduction in Canadian society. The relationship is examined empirically through analysis of the production and the products of network television information; specifically, the five major programmes represented by CBC's THE NATIONAL, THE JOURNAL, and the fifth estate, and CTV's CTV NATIONAL NEWS and WS•.  Based upon extensive fieldwork conducted at each of the production units responsible for these programmes, including non-participant observation, structured and unstructured interviews, and questionnaires, the labour process at each unit is documented.    It is argued that there are a significant number of "constraints" intrinsic to the organization of the labour process in addition to others which arise from the broader political economy of Canadian broadcasting and historically evolved professional journalistic practices and ideologies. These constraints include the limitations of time, money and technology identified by Tracey with respect to British current affairs production; the limitations of story values, and the phenomenon of inter­ media dependence which tends to reinforce these values and produce a homogeneity of form and sameness of content; the absence of investigative resources which produces, among other things, a dependence upon official information suppliers, especially agents of the state, such that state subjects dominate the televisual population to the neglect of representatives of private capital; legal constraints and the fear of legal repercussions, which likewise direct journalistic critiques towards the state rather than private capital; the limitations of established programme formats; the absence of systematic knowledge of programme audiences, which leads producers to use themselves as points of reference in determinations of audience interest and programme composition; and so forth. All of these features or constraints of the labour process, it is argued, act in conjunction with each other to shape the product of the process in a particular way, a way that tends overall to inscribe a "preferred reading" of the social world into informational texts and thereby to favour the reproduction of bourgeois hegemony. To fully appreciate the effects of production constraints, it is argued that, methodologically, integrated study of both production and product offers the best means to witness the often subtle structural connections between the practices of media production and the mechanisms of ideological reproduction. The analysis proceeds, then, to consider the texts produced at the same time in which the conditions of their production were observed, and to identify some of the consequences of production constraints manifest in the final product, based upon a two-year sample of programmes which aired during 1902 and 1983.Lastly, then, the results of a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the programmes are presented, and their textual characteristics are shown to be the outcome of the production constraints identified earlier.    These characteristics, for example, include the limited "story geography" of news and current affairs, which is directly the outcome of the geographic distribution of journalistic labour and the national and international infrastructures of story transmission.         It is concluded that, while alternative and oppositional readings are probable among some audience sectors, the dominant or preferred hegemonic reading of televisual information texts is best explained not by class-mounted conspiracies or the willful "bias" of individual producers, but by the everyday practical processes according to which network television news and current affairs is produced in the context of Canadian capitalism.


Television broadcasting of news -- Canada.




Carleton University

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Theses and Dissertations

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