Paper short abstract:
This paper, based on multi-sited fieldwork, compares the foreign news production of German journalists in Singapore, Washington D.C. and Jerusalem, finding their routine practice to be shaped by home desks settings and demands. This research demonstrates the cultural nature of 'news'.
Paper long abstract:
My research gives a behind-the-scenes-look into foreign news production. Centering on German foreign news coverage I did multi-sited fieldwork with correspondents on four different continents, following them through their everyday work sometimes for days, sometimes for weeks and months. Comparing Singapore, Washington D.C. and Jerusalem, I found routine practice as predominantly shaped by home desks settings and demands. So my thesis states that foreign news coverage highlights the cultural nature of »news«.
This conclusion leads through spheres of everyday routine and its explanations through correspondents, stringer, producers etc. What and how these journalists do, centers on standards of professional journalism and the legitimating »being there« - both referring to homemade preferences. In both, their stories and professional activities, their practice embodies intensely enacted arguments upon this recursive process. This incorporates clashes of definitions and perspectives, struggles and strategies for authority. Their practice is articulating a continuous reification and negotiation of socio-cultural poetics and therefore can be seen as a representation of national culture through world news.
This ethnography witnesses the agency of media producers within a cultural system while recognizing their embeddedness in larger structures of power. This bridges media- to socio-centric approaches and emphasizes the potential of media anthropology.
The ethnography is a narrative exploration of the correspondents daily routines linking professional practice to interviews, anecdotes and examples of their coverage to my observations to forming a »thick narration«. Using ethnographic methods combined with those of a journalistic recherché this is revealing the socio-cultural poetics of (German) foreign news coverage.
Regarding the analysis of media practice I would propose having a look at journalistic methods. Combining principles of recherché and participant observation turned out to be helpful in contextualizing and specifying the field.
Understanding media practices