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Auteur: Aleksandra GNACH

Exploring Cultural Differences Between Newscasts in Switzerland. A Contrastive Approach to Newsroom Practices of a Multilingual Public Service Broadcast Company

Abstract/Résumé: Journalists in different language areas of Switzerland have access to the same sources. Nevertheless, TV-newscasts in Switzerland diverge not only in the language used, but also in topics and contextualisation. The presentation shows how linguistic methodology and the framework of realist social theory can be used to explore differences between newscasts – in this case the differences between the newscasts in the French and German speaking part of Switzerland. It argues that differences between the news in the language areas originate from different understandings of editorial tasks and different concepts of Switzerland, journalism, and audience. The presentation is based on data from the IDÉE SUISSE project. This project investigated how the Swiss public broadcasting company SRG should, wants to, and can con-tribute to mutual understanding and identity formation in Switzerland while operating between the poles of a political mandate and competitive market forces. Research questions and frameworks were developed in collaboration with actors in the life-world: media politics, media management, and journalism. The research project was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, National Research Program 56, 2005–2009 (Gnach/Perrin 2008, Perrin et al. 2010). The IDÉE SUISSE project links the micro and macro perspective of authorship and context by using different qualitative methods – like ethnographic observations, detailed computer loggings, or discourse analysis – within sociological frame-works, e.g. the framework of realist social theory (RST). RST explains the micro dynamics of situated language, its interplay with social structure and long-term social development (Sealey & Carter, 2004). To investigate the complex interplay between agency and structure empirically, RST follows “domain theory” (Layder 1997) in separating the world in four interactive domains: psychobiography, situated activity, social settings and contextual resources. The four domains of the social world can only be accessed empirically trough the analysis of situated activity: journalist's characteristics, attitudes or organizational, social and cultural influences on news production become apparent in situated activities like language use (writing) or the products of language use (texts). Accordingly, the analysis of situated activities enables drawing conclusions about the three other do-mains of the social world.