Practical

Thursday, 8 December, 2022 up to and including Friday, 9 December, 2022 - 12:00 until 18:30
The University Foundation
Rue d'Egmont 11
1000 Brussels

Program at a Glance

Fourth Biennial Conference of the Brussels Institute for Journalism Studies (BIJU)

8-9 DECEMBER 2022 @ The University Foundation, Brussels

REGISTRATION IS OPEN

Contact: fairview@vub.be

Conference theme

The topic for this year’s conference will be the expression of standpoint and viewpoint in journalism. As always, our conference is multidisciplinary. So, we invite scholars from different backgrounds like communication and media studies, linguistics, ethics, epistemology and political and social sciences to think about the modi operandi and the desirability of journalists expressing their standpoints and sharing their views. Possible questions which can be addressed are: is it possible to define the ‘proper’ standpoint, is it possible to give a full account of a state of affairs, does the traditional journalistic method of including multiple sources guarantee balanced reporting, is interpretive or transparent journalism to be preferred over the traditional ‘neutralistic’ journalism, how can interpretive forms of journalism be meaningfully differentiated, measured and assessed, how does point of view relate to verification, assertion, and affirmation, how can stances and points of view be rendered linguistically and/or visually, is there a place for emotions in journalism, what are the ethical implications of expressing points of view in journalism?

Plenary speakers

Karin Wahl-Jorgensen (Cardiff University, UK)

An emotional turn in journalism?

This keynote makes the case that there has been “emotional turn” in the study of journalism, which has led to an increasingly nuanced investigation of the role of emotion in the production, texts and audience engagement with journalism. These developments have occurred in tandem with, and accelerated by, the emergence of digital and social media. Research on news production has shown that journalistic work has always taken emotion into consideration, shaping approaches to storytelling and presentation. However, the view of journalists as detached observers has rendered the emotional labor associated with news production invisible. Research on emotion in journalistic texts has highlighted the fact that even conventional “hard news genres” are shaped by an engagement with emotion. As studies on news audiences and emotions have shown, audiences are more likely to be emotionally engaged, recall information and take action when news stories are relatable. The affordances of digital platforms and social media have had a profound impact on the space for emotion. The expanded opportunities for participation have contributed to questioning traditional distinctions between news audiences and producers and have ushered in new and more forms of emotional expression that have spilled over into practices of news production. At the same time, broader social and political developments – including growing political polarisation, the rise of populism, and the profound uncertainties and crises of the recent past – have shifted the grounds for public debate in a more emotional direction. Taken together, these transformations have ushered in a growing awareness of the central role of emotion in journalism – for better and for worse.

 

Peter R. R. White (University of New South Wales, Australia)

Evaluating fairness and well-foundedness  in views journalism: a fool’s errand or worth the effort?

The journalism studies scholarship dealing with issues of fairness, bias, accuracy, and representation has for the most part concerned itself with news reporting, i.e., those “neutralistic” genres where there is some expectation of, if not “objectivity”, then at least an attempt at impartiality and even-handedness on the journalist’s part. Views journalism (e.g., opinion pieces, columns, commentary, editorials etc.) has much less often been subject to scrutiny of this type. This is presumably because there is little expectation that views journalism pieces should be “balanced” and the fact that they present as primarily concerned with opinions and evaluative assessments rather than versions of events. Accordingly, they don’t seem to raise issues of representational reliability, truth or verifiability.   When views journalism is critiqued from the perspective of “good practice”, it is more likely to be on the basis of perceived logical fallaciousness, on the basis that the author has committed one or more of the errors of logic which have been so well documented in rhetoric studies. 

In this paper I explore some possibilities for a critical analysis of views journalism which might stand as a counterpart to the more fully developed critiques of neutralistic news journalism, a line of analysis which would reference notions of what constitutes the legitimate goals, roles, and textual practices of views journalism. The paper considers whether such an “ethics” of views journalism is possible or something to be sought after. What might it entail and by what lines of analysis might principled conclusions be reached as to the ethical standing of individual views journalism pieces, conclusions as to their fairness and well-foundedness.

In undertaking this exploration, the paper addresses a range of possibilities. To the extent that opinion pieces do advance versions of events, to what extent should they be epistemically cautious or nuanced, recognising the possibility of alternative versions of these events? To what extent and in what circumstances should overt evaluative assertions be similarly cautious, with the contentiousness of such evaluations duly signaled? What is the role of attitudinal implication in an “ethical” views journalism piece, i.e. to what extent is it “legitimate” for readers to be positioned to take a negative view of some person or happening by means of material which is not overtly attitudinal, material which, for example, only imputes incompetence, cowardice or moral flaw?  In what circumstances is it “legitimate” for the views journalism piece to project particular values, beliefs and expectations onto their readers/listeners/viewers, to thereby assume a likeminded audience?

With a view to conclusions as to the viability or advisability of such a search for an ethics of views journalism, the paper offers findings from an analysis of the axiological and epistemic workings of a collection of opinion pieces and editorials published in leading English-language newspapers from around the world. Conclusions are provided as to whether there is, indeed, any value in assessing such journalism in reference to notions of fairness and well-foundedness. Also, by way of a footnote, some consideration is given to possible consequences for the persuasiveness of ethically principled view journalism, for the potential of an opinion piece to win readers over, to influence or change their viewpoint. Might the relationship be an inverse one: the more “ethical” an opinion piece, the lower its potential to persuade.

 

Bette Dam (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium & Sciences Po, France)

In the bin of history: The silent stories of Afghanistan

After 0911 Afghanistan became the battle ground for the master narrative War on Terror. Though a government can come up with narratives, the expectation is that the watchdogs like media keep these ideas at arm’s length. The longest war of the US became the longest war of the US also because these agenda-setting press did not keep that distance. We rolled in along the troops, and too often embraced the US point of view - overlooking, suppressing or crashing most of the Afghan stories - some of them giving hints for peace. 

 

Venue: The University Foundation, Egmontstraat / Rue d'Egmont  11 - 1000 Brussel / Bruxelles: https://www.fondationuniversitaire.be/en

 

Conference fee (including reception, lunches, coffee): € 150 (regular participants), € 75 (PhD students).

Dinner is organized at the restaurant of the University Foundation on Friday 9 December and charged separately (50€, three courses, all drinks included).

 

Questions about any aspect of the conference should be addressed to fairview@vub.be

For updates on the practical organization, please check our website regularly. 

 

After the previous conferences, we have edited special issues of renowned journals and a book volume with an esteemed publisher bundling the most innovative papers presented. We intend to do the same after this conference.

Publications of the previous conferences:

Special Issue 'What’s (the) News? Revisiting ‘News Values’ as a Concept and Methodology in the Age of Digital Networked Journalism'

Journalism Studieshttps://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rjos20/22/6 

Book volume on News Values from an Audience Perspective (Palgrave McMillan): https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783030450458 

Special issue 'Post-truth and the political: Constructions and distortions in representing political facts'

Discourse, Context & Media: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2211695818303271

Special issue 'Constructive journalism: Concepts, practices, and discourses'

Journalism: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1464884918770885

Special issue 'Hybridity and the news: Blending genres and interaction patterns in new forms of journalism'

Journalism: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1464884916657520

 

 

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