Date of this Version
This book began with somewhat amorphous and tentative thoughts on the workings of journalistic authority, by which the media assume the right to present authoritative versions of events. Journalistic authority was approached as a construct implicitly but identifiably located within the practices of American journalists.
These pages have shown that journalistic authority is neither amorphous nor tentative. It exists in narrative, where journalists maintain it through the stories they tell. By varying who tells these stories, how they tell them, and what they do or do not tell, journalists enact their authority as a narrative craft, embodied in narrative forms.
These narratives are then transported into collective memory, where they are used as models for understanding the authoritative role of the journalist and journalistic community. Specific narratives signal different boundaries of appropriate journalistic practice and help clarify the boundaries of cultural authority across time and space. This is what Jiirgen Habermas, Max Weber, and others called rhetorical legitimation, the ability of retellers to legitimate themselves through the stories they tell in public discourse.
Date Posted: 04 March 2008