“There are two different stories to tell”
Perrin, Daniel (2011). “There are two different stories to tell”: Collaborative text-picture production strategies of TV journalists. Journal of Pragmatics, 43, 7. 1865-1875. Peer reviewed.
What do journalists do when they negotiate their work, solve their problems, and produce their multimodal news items? This article outlines a theoretical framework for analyzing newswriting processes as a societal, organizational and individual activity and applies it to a case study drawn from a large ethnographic research project. The project combines realist social theory, domain theory, grounded theory, and progression analysis. Ethnographic interviews with stakeholders, video recordings of workplace conversations, and keystroke logs of writing processes in the newsroom are triangulated within this framework. We investigate how the Swiss public broadcasting company should, actually does, and could promote public understanding in Switzerland while operating between the poles of a political mandate and competitive market forces. The overall findings show that the knowledge of how to bridge the gap between the broadcasting company’s publicmandate and market forces cannot be identified in the executive suites, but in the newsrooms. The case study presented in this article illustrates how an experienced professional journalist recognized a critical situation of collaborative text-picture production and overcame an apparently intractable conflict with his emergent solution. This tacit knowledge – the situated,implicit andindividual strategiesandpractices of certainexperiencedplayers–can be made available to the corporation as explicit organizational knowledge.