News Performance in Market-Oriented Environments

  • Edda Humprecht
Part of the Challenges to Democracy in the 21st Century book series (CDC)


It has often been claimed that the news media play a key role in democracy: they are assumed to enable communication between power-holders and citizens, serve as a check on political decisions and facilitate deliberation (McQuail, 2010). News journalism is therefore expected to provide relevant information, comprehensive analysis, and critical reflection. The evolution of online media has increased the amount of politically relevant information that is available to mass audiences. However, there is a discrepancy between what news journalism should do and contemporary journalistic practice (Downie & Schudson, 2009; Gerhards & Schafer, 2010). In addition to technological development and changed usage habits, profit-oriented media companies have been argued to contradict the ideal of news media informing democracy (McChesney, 2013). Normative societal expectations are challenged by the fact that most news outlets are private companies operating in competitive markets. This double role of public good and commercial product implicates the conflicting interests of markets and society. Some news organizations prefer to produce ‘all the news that’s fit to sell’ (Hamilton, 2004), particularly in times of recession when revenues stagnate or decline. However, audiences depend on diverse and comprehensive information to form their own opinions about political decision-making. McManus (1994) argues that journalistic quality is inversely related to a media outlet’s level of profit maximization effort. Today, news outlets encounter many economic pressures, which presumably affect their news content.


Normative Theory News Coverage Ownership Type Media Market Online News 
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Copyright information

© Edda Humprecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edda Humprecht
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Mass Communication and Media ResearchUniversity of ZurichSwitzerland

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