The SAGE Key Concepts series provide students with accessible and authoritative knowledge of the essential topics in a variety of disciplines. Cross-referenced throughout, the format encourages critical evaluation through understanding. Written by experienced and respected academics, the books are indispensable study aids and guides to comprehension. Key Concepts in Journalism offers a systematic and accessible introduction to the terms, processes, and effects of journalism;a combination of practical considerations with theoretical issues; and further reading suggestions. The authors bring an enormous range of experience in newspaper and broadcast journalism, at national and regional level, as well as their teaching expertise. This book will be essential reading for students in journalism, and an invaluable reference tool for their professional careers.
The characterization of journalism as a social ‘watchdog’ springs from a classical liberal conception of the power relationship between government and society within a democratic state. The watchdog theory of journalism is based on a pluralistic view of social power and can be seen as ‘a simple extension to the (newspaper) press of the fundamental individual rights to freedom of opinion, speech, religion and assembly’ (McQuail, 1994: 128). The watchdog metaphor imbues the press with the role of being a forum for discussion, investigators of impropriety, an adversary to monopoly over power and knowledge and the defenders of truth, freedom and democracy. This is embodied in the traditional idea of a ‘fourth estate’, historically accredited to Edmund Burke: ‘There are three estates in ...