PORTRAIT du journaliste canadien | Portrait of the Canadian journalist

Key findings and implications of our 2014-2016 study are presented in the following publications:

Just Who Do Canadian Journalists Think They Are? Political Role Conceptions in Global and Historical Perspective. By Heather Rollwagen, Ivor Shapiro, Geneviève Bonin-Labelle, Lindsay Fitzgerald, and Lauriane Tremblay. Canadian Journal of Political Science 52 (3) September 2019 , pp. 461-477.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0008423919000015

Abstract: In view of the robust link often inferred between autonomous journalism and the strength of a society’s democratic institutions, and against the background of current challenges to journalists’ traditional roles as purveyors of timely and independent information, we interviewed 352 Canadian journalists about their social and political roles and the influences on their news choices. Comparison of their responses against an international data set (N = 27,567) suggests that Canadian journalists place greater value on detached monitorial roles and claim relatively greater autonomy from commercial and other influences on their work. Further, in comparing these findings to an influential panel study from 1996 to 2003, we conclude that the Canadian journalists’ “credo,” focused on neutral reporting and oriented more to perceived public interest than to business or audience interests, remains surprisingly intact despite contemporary pressures on news forms and business models. This professed neutrality is mitigated by a desire to promote diversity and tolerance.

Compte tenu du lien solide souvent inféré entre le journalisme autonome et la force des institutions démocratiques d’une société, et dans le contexte actuel de remise en question des rôles traditionnels des journalistes en tant que fournisseurs d’information opportune et indépendante, nous avons interviewé 352 journalistes canadiens sur leur rôle social et politique et les influences qu’ils exercent sur leurs choix de nouvelles. La comparaison de leurs réponses avec un ensemble de données internationales (N = 27 567) suggère que les journalistes canadiens accordent plus d’importance aux rôles de « surveillance détachés » et revendiquent une autonomie relative par rapport aux influences commerciales et autres sur leur travail. De plus, en comparant ces résultats à ceux d’une étude de panel influente de 1999 à 2003, nous concluons que le « credo » des journalistes canadiens, axé sur des reportages neutres et centré davantage sur l’intérêt public perçu que sur les intérêts des entreprises ou de l’audience, demeure étonnamment intact malgré les pressions actuelles sur les nouvelles formes et modèles commerciaux. Cette neutralité professée est atténuée par le désir de promouvoir la diversité et la tolérance.

  • If you don’t have access to the journal, you can read a preprint of this paper in Ryerson’s Digital Repository.

As Ottawa helps the news industry, latest research suggests journalists’ loyalties are tough to buy. By Heather Rollwagen and Ivor Shapiro.  The Conversation, March 20, 2019.

…If news organizations get government money, do journalists become government servants? This question’s importance as it relates to freedom of the press cuts both ways.

On the one hand, there is no freedom of the press if the press does not exist, or if its existence hangs on a daily thread of avoiding bankruptcy. On the other, funding journalism fosters at best the appearance of a conflict of interest and at worst the tendency of pipers to pick tunes that please their payers.

Our research offers reason to think that Canadian journalists’ loyalties cannot be bought as easily as some fear. Rather, …most Canadian journalists express a collective sense of mission that requires them to be detached from those who provide their funding. Those sources of funding have long included… [Read on]

Quelle Différence? Language, culture and nationality as influences on francophone journalists’ identity. By Geneviève Bonin, Filip Dingerkus, Annik Dubied, Stefan Mertens, Heather Rollwagen, Vittoria Sacco, Ivor Shapiro, Olivier Standaert & Vinzenz Wyss. Journalism Studies (18,5) 2017. [Special Issue: Comparing Journalistic Cultures]

Abstract: Canada, Belgium and Switzerland are multicultural countries with several similarities including having French as a minority language. The trio also shares similar media landscapes, systems and approaches to journalism to those of other Western European and Northern American countries. These commonalities offer an opportunity to probe for the possibility of a language-based differentiation in journalists’ professional identities. Our comparative analysis of Worlds of Journalism Study data suggests that francophone journalists in our three countries have much more in common than not with their other-language peers. However, the francophone journalists seem more likely to identify with a politicized role that includes agenda-setting, citizen-motivation and scrutinizing power, and less likely to be driven by attracting and satisfying audiences. A différence francophone exists, but it is modest.

Journalists in Canada: Country Report. By Heather Rollwagen, Ivor Shapiro, Geneviève Bonin, Lindsay Fitzgerald, and Lauriane Tremblay: “Journalists in Canada: Country Report.” Worlds of Journalism Study. 11 October, 2016.

Key data and methodological information about  from our 2014-2016 study.