The Ideology of Uncritical U.S. Journalism: Its Political-Professional and Political-Economic Roots

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This article offers a theoretical argument about how to think about journalistic ideology. I argue that the ideology of uncritical war reporting in U.S. news media arises from both professional norms and the political economy of news media. Two incidents for which initial reporting in the New York Times followed the U.S. government’s claims but later reporting showed those claims and that reporting to be false are used as empirical support for this theoretical argument. In each incident, U.S. military forces killed civilians, but the New York Times repeated U.S. government claims to the contrary. A comparison between the reporting of those incidents in the New York Times with reporting in “alternative” U.S. news media and The Times of London demonstrates the uncritical ideology present in “mainstream” U.S. news media. Through a combination of the primary theoretical argument and the supporting empirical evidence, this article contributes to the journalism studies literature by demonstrating that different journalistic ideologies are produced from different political-professional and political-economic circumstances that can be found within national contexts and in cross-national comparison. The theoretical argument suggests journalistic ideologies should be considered specifically and directly related to both political-professional and political-economic relationships in which journalists produce news. There is neither a single international journalistic ideology nor even a single U.S. journalistic ideology.

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