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Title: The social organisation of news production : a case study of BBC radio and television news
Author: Schlesinger, Philip
ISNI:       0000 0001 3555 1249
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 1975
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This is a case study in the microsociology of knowledge conducted in the London-based News Division of the British Broadcasting Corporation during 1972-3. The data was gathered by fieldwork in Broadcasting House and Television Centre. The study falls into two parts. The first, after a review of relevant literature, presents a detailed account of those dimensions of the organisational milieu necessary for an understanding of broadcast news production. These are: the hierarchical control structure which determines policy for news coverage; the everyday production routines which structure “news” as an organisational product; the system of advanced planning through which news stories are identified. This section also locates the legitimising role played by the BBC’s editorial philosophy and power structure, and considers implications of the broadcaster’s conventional distinction between “news” and “current affairs”. The second part of the study develops the idea of news producers as constituting and epistemic community whose work skills, organisational location, and occupational knowledge give them a distinctive cognitive orientation. Newsmen’s characterisation of their thought and practice as “professional” is analysed as a mode of conferring authority upon the production process, and the product “news”. It is then argued that newsmen’s primary framework of reference is the organisation within which they assert their complete autonomy from the audience, while at the same time asserting their unique capacity to determine its needs for news. Next, “impartiality” is analysed as a distinctive corporate conceptions drawn from a model of the political consensus represented by the major Parliamentary political parties, and is presented as illus-trating the BBC’s accommodation to the realities of State power. Newsmen’s claim to be accurate is next considered. It is shown how they support their claim by pointing to empiricist methods of authentication. The specific character of these is demonstrated by showing how news production is heavily condition-ed by the temporal imperatives of the daily news cycle. The study then concludes after considering newsmen’s time-conscious-ness; their professionalism in this context is analysed as being in control of the pace of often unpredictable work.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DA Great Britain ; HE Transportation and Communications ; HM Sociology ; PN1990 Broadcasting