Danish newspapers’ coverage of conflict they are part of: self-serving or serving the public interest?

Aske Kammer

Publikation: Konferencebidrag - EJ publiceret i proceeding eller tidsskriftKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskningpeer review


This paper presents the preliminary results of a frame analysis of newspaper coverage of an issue that the newspapers themselves have interests vested in, asking to what extent news workers select framings in accordance with particular, self-serving rather than public interest. The paper examines Danish newspapers’ coverage of the conflict between the state-owned public service broadcaster DR and the newspapers, which are privately owned. The conflict concerns whether the state-owned actor distorts the media market and competes with private actors on an unfair basis at a time where the news industry struggles to find sustainable business models for the digital age. In this situation, and with a re-negotiation of the terms of the public service broadcaster just a few years ahead, the press has an obvious commercial interest in framing this issue in particular ways. The empirical material for the study consists of the 94 news articles and opinion pieces that represent seven national Danish newspapers’ coverage entire of the issue in 2014 and 2015. The seven newspapers (B.T., Berlingske, Børsen, Information, Jyllands-Posten, Kristeligt Dagblad, and Politiken) span the national variations in newspaper types, target audiences, political orientations, and ownership. Analytically, the paper applies Gamson & Modigliani’s (1989) framework of “interpretation packages”; that is, it identifies various interpretational frames in the coverage of the conflict and measures quantitatively their distribution across the empirical material. Regarding the hypotheses of the study, different theoretical positions offer at least two different sets of expectations concerning the results of the analysis. On the one hand, theories of journalistic professionalism and new-institutional theory would lead us to hypothesize that since journalists act in accordance with institutionalized, professional norms, they will ignore the interests of the newspaper organizations and treat the conflict in a fair and balanced way. On the other hand, mediatization theory and theories of the political economy of the press would lead us to hypothesize that since the media have become a self-serving institution (Hjarvard, 2013) and newspapers have a financial interest in framing the issue in a particular way, the news workers will adhere to organizational rather than occupational demands. Through its empirical analysis, this study will be able to suggest which of the theoretical frameworks hold the greatest explanatory power in this type of situation, allowing for an assessment of the state of current independent journalism.
StatusUdgivet - 2017
BegivenhedECREA Journalism Studies Conference 2017 - Odense, Danmark
Varighed: 23 mar. 201724 mar. 2017


KonferenceECREA Journalism Studies Conference 2017