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The Fourth Estate in the USA and UK

Hearns-Branaman, Jesse Owen (2011) The Fourth Estate in the USA and UK. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis examines the ways in which political journalists in the USA and UK talk about issues of truth and power as it relates to journalism‟s role as the Fourth Estate. The theoretical basis comes from a critique of the two major structures underpinning the Fourth Estate, that of epistemology (the study of truth) and ideology (broadly, the study of power and ideas). This involves unpacking and critically examining the ability of news media to convey „true‟ information and the ideological formations in which the news media production practice is situated. The epistemological theories of Realism, Pragmatism, Antirealism and Hyperrealism will first be elucidated in an in-depth theoretical discussion, focusing on the contributions of Baudrillard. Four major theories of ideology, that of personal ideological bias, chaos, control, and ideology as fetishistic disavowal will be examined, this time focusing on the work of Žižek. This theoretical discussion is complimented by an analysis of interview questions relating to epistemological concerns and to ideology. The empirical data consists of twenty interviews conducted with political correspondents in the USA and UK. A version of critical discourse analysis is used to examine the ways in which journalists talk about the issues raised by the questions, what is termed their „discursive strategies.‟ The categories for analysis are grounded in the discursive strategies used by the journalists themselves, examined to elaborate not simply the explicit content, but the deeper implicit meanings inherent in the way they answer. This provided both an original theoretical discussion and an original set of empirically-derived data. It also allows us to further understand the role of journalism as the Fourth Estate, the types of „truth‟ it brings to us, the types of ideologies that underpin the news production process via news media professionals, and how the system is maintained despite its inherent contradictions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications (Leeds) > Institute of Communication Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Repository Administrator
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2012 12:45
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:24
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2283

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