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The strategic ritual of emotionality: A case study of Pulitzer Prize-winning articles

Wahl-Jorgensen, Karin 2013. The strategic ritual of emotionality: A case study of Pulitzer Prize-winning articles. Journalism 14 (1) , pp. 129-145. 10.1177/1464884912448918

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Abstract

Taking as its vantage point Gaye Tuchman’s (1972) notion of the strategic ritual of objectivity, this article argues that there is also a strategic ritual of emotionality in journalism – an institutionalized and systematic practice of journalists infusing their reporting with emotion. To examine the strategic ritual of emotionality, the article considers Pulitzer Prize-winning articles between 1995 and 2011, taking the prize as a marker of cultural capital in the journalistic field. A coding scheme for a basic content analysis was developed on the basis of scholarly insights into journalistic narratives, as well as discourse analytic approaches associated with appraisal theory. The analysis indicates that the analyzed stories rely heavily on emotional story-telling. The strategic ritual of emotionality manifests itself in the overwhelming use of anecdotal leads, personalized story-telling and expressions of affect. Journalists ‘outsource’ emotional labor by describing the emotions of others, and drawing on sources to discuss their emotions.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
N Fine Arts > NE Print media
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 1464-8849
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 04:24
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/38253

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