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JOU0010.1177/1464884916667873JournalismTenenboim-Weinblatt and Baden


Journalistic transformation:
How source texts are turned
into news stories

© The Author(s) 2016
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/1464884916667873

Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Christian Baden

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

In the scholarly debate, ideals of original reporting are commonly contrasted against
the churnalistic reproduction of source content. However, most news making
lies between these poles: Journalists rely on but transform the available source
material, renegotiating its original meaning. In this article, we define journalistic
transformation as those interventions journalists make in their use of third-party
textual material in the pursuit of crafting a news story. Journalists (1) select
contents from available source texts, (2) position these contents, (3) augment them
with further information, and (4) arrange all to craft characteristic news narratives.
To investigate journalistic transformation practices, we compare source materials
used in the news (e.g. press releases, speeches) to the resulting Israeli, Palestinian,
and international coverage of the abduction and murder of four youths in summer
2014. We identify five kinds of journalistic transformation – evaluative, political,
cultural, emotive, and professional – each of which actualizes a different journalistic
function and contributes to rendering the news relevant to the respective audiences
in distinct ways.
Intertextual, journalistic transformation, news making, sources

Corresponding author:
Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt, Department of Communication and Journalism, The Hebrew University of
Jerusalem, Mount Scopus, 91905 Jerusalem, Israel.

Downloaded from at MacEwan University Libraries on September 12, 2016

cultural. Davies. Second.2 Journalism  Introduction Writing the news. summarized. In order to begin developing a general framework of journalistic transformation. While rich scholarly work has investigated journalists’ sourcing and selection strategies (see reviews in Berkowitz. or downplayed. and other texts (e. and other media outlets (e. Other materials are brought in to corroborate or criticize. we argue that the different ways in which source texts are transformed actualize specific social roles assumed by journalists. which can be captured by the notion of intertextual journalistic transformation. are a significant part of journalists’ unique contribution to public discourse (see Phillips. We identify five types of transformations – evaluative. between these two poles there exists a wide continuum of journalistic practices: Applying a variety of transformations to source texts. 2016). Boczkowski. as well as a growing abundance of readily accessible texts. background. McChesney and Nichols. 2014). based on direct observations and one-onone journalist–source interactions (e. and thereby turn them into news texts. Through these interventions. Downloaded from jou. journalists increasingly construct parts of their coverage from textual material provided by various sources. In proposing the notion of journalistic transformation. constitute the focus of this article. coherent news story (Baden and Tenenboim-Weinblatt. amend or explain the selected claims. which constitute different journalistic styles. and professional – which actualize different journalistic functions and ways of rendering the news relevant to the respective news audiences. independent news reporting. These various practices.g. Moreover. for better and worse. 2009. Starkman. (2) presenting selected contents as more or less important. we identify recurrent combinations of these transformations.g. These interventions consist of (1) selecting key information and quotes from available source texts. we posit that not only do journalists regularly transform source texts. journalists rely heavily on available textual inputs. journalists select specific contents to be quoted. Reich. emotive. 2015. controversial. and commentary. We define journalistic transformation as journalists’ interventions in their use of thirdparty textual material in the pursuit of crafting a news story. elaborated. against the background of an integrative appraisal of the existing scholarship. 2009. Shoemaker and Reese.sagepub. certain. and so on. we depart from two important assumptions: First. amplified. Phillips. 1995). 2009. (3) augmenting these with further information from other sources.. This already common practice has become even more prevalent in the digital era: Given intensifying financial and time pressures. 2004) has been contrasted against an ideal of original. 2010).com at MacEwan University Libraries on September 12. and (4) arranging all to craft characteristic news narratives. Such ‘churnalism’ (Zakir. in Harcup. 2008. reformulated. 2008). 2011. Lewis et al. journalists renegotiate the meaning of the used source material to create news texts that are co-productions of the journalist and the original sources. 2010. 2013). we use an instrumental case study (Stake.g. 2016 . Downie and Schudson. Jackson and Moloney. political. 2009. comparing source inputs to the final journalistic products. but that these transformations. Carlson. news agency copy. A growing body of literature has addressed the perils of uncritical journalistic reproduction of press releases. the further processing of selected sources within the journalistic newsmaking process has not yet been systematically conceptualized. 2014). among them public relations (PR) spokespeople. However. and the different pieces are (re)arranged to form a relevant. political actors.

thus enabling varied comparison. on 2 July. one interview with Member of Parliament (MP) Hanin Zoabi. In addition. and one telephone recording of the first three victims’ emergency call. ethnocentric coverage. balanced or politically biased. the selection is heavy on official sources. we included the leftist elite broadsheet Haaretz. United Kingdom. one statement by the Israeli Defense Force. speeches at one public rally. and Germany.e. we first identified all textual1 sources that were literally quoted or expressly referenced on the front pages. three statements by PA government officials. we identified references to the same sources in the international press: Selecting one elite broadsheet and one popular/tabloid paper each from the United States. The entire analysis thus comprises 159 dyadic comparisons between the 22 selected source texts and 150 news articles using these (nine news articles use two of the selected Downloaded from jou. until the boys’ dead bodies were discovered on 30 June. These events lend themselves to this study in several ways: First. beyond the front pages) and included all relevant articles in our sample. murders. Subsequently. triggering rich press coverage on both sides as well as internationally. right-leaning outlet Israel Hayom.Tenenboim-Weinblatt and Baden 3 Site of inquiry As a site of inquiry. we included East Jerusalem’s Al-Quds. and the free. two Hamas statements/interviews. three Yeshiva students were abducted by activists linked to Hamas near a West Bank settlement.g.sagepub. and audiovisual materials – were retrieved from available archives. To sample at MacEwan University Libraries on September 12. journalists had ample and diverse incentives for transforming the available material and craft professional. At the same time. Israeli sources include seven statements by the Prime Minister (PM). we selected those 11 Israeli sources that were picked up by at least three front pages and another 11 Palestinian sources which were mentioned on at least two front pages. For the Palestinian territories. both events deeply involved the Israeli and Palestinian communities.3 All original source texts – including press releases. Amid rising tensions. The Guardian and Daily Mail. we identified all references to these 22 selected sources throughout the entire coverage of these six papers (i. we focus on the news coverage of three Israeli and one Palestinian teenagers abducted and murdered in summer 2014: On 12 June. Gans. Of these. Accessing all front-page stories related to the abductions. Israeli radicals abducted and murdered a Palestinian teenager from East Jerusalem in retribution. journalists had to rely on scarce sources to obtain information. we departed from the coverage in three leading Israeli and Palestinian newspapers: For Israel. Al-Hayat al-Jadida – the paper of the Palestinian Authority (PA) – and the Hamas-affiliated Felesteen. 1990. 2003). 2016 . but also covers a range of other source texts. The ensuing massive search operation and military crackdown lasted 18 days. news agency reports. we included all relevant coverage from the New York Times (NYT) and USA Today. the official Palestinian news agency. the leading popular paper Yedioth Ahronot. as well as their initially uncertain yet increasing escalation potential – culminating in the 2014 Gaza war – remained contentious both between and within Israel and Palestine: Maneuvering between clashing identities. Palestinian sources include four statements/ speeches by President Abbas.2 Due to the nature of events and journalists’ general reliance on official sources (e. Bennett. Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) and Bild. and two reports by Wafa. and ensuing escalations for a month after the kidnapping (14 June–14 July 2014). Evaluations of events and policies.

the process is that of discovery. qualify.g. political and framing analysis (e. 2005). sources). For the distribution of sampled news texts. at MacEwan University Libraries on September 12. or challenge the reported contents. Carey. The analysis was guided by an abductive approach (Reichertz. and renegotiating the interpretation advanced by the original source – and what is thereby achieved. We then analyzed how these specific transformations shape the qualities of the news report – carving out newsworthy information. reengagement.sagepub. see Figure 1. both for actualizing journalistic norms and functions.g. and making new connections. In order to identify the transformations that journalists apply to selected. Strübing. we identified and categorized additions that derive from other sources (e. qualifying its relevance. paraphrased. 1993. McCombs. we searched for characteristic. 2009. Bird and Dardenne. Van Dijk. We approached the comparison between the source texts and news stories with a broad arsenal of concepts taken from cultural and narrative approaches to analyzing news content (e. Bell. Hallin and Mancini. and examined how these elaborate. sources. based on the interplay between existing interpretive frameworks (deduction) and the patterns emerging from the data (induction). emotive Downloaded from jou. and for increasing the utility of texts for the audience. Entman. where existing conceptual and theoretical frameworks provide ‘sensitizing concepts’ (Blumer. we conducted an in-depth qualitative analysis of those changes applied in the process of turning it into news stories. 2004. linguistic and discourse analysis approaches (e. close to and far from the reported events. Rather. 2003. journalistic commentary). contextualize. 2016 . Inversely. 1954) as departure points for the analysis but do not determine the outcome. 2014). 1989. 2007. Comparing each pair of source and resulting news text. 1991. newsworthy material.4 Journalism  Figure 1.  Sample composition.g. Zelizer and Tenenboim-Weinblatt. we identified which specific contents of source texts were reproduced. archival material. or omitted in the news. and resulting comparisons. 2013). Dor. recurrent patterns in their application across different media in different cultural contexts. 2007).

Among the rich and varied transformative practices detected in the vast majority of texts. Peters. political. and emotive transformations – are located on a generally similar level. 2015. the news reduces the complexity of available information. 1991: 151). 1965. 2001). Waisbord. also the selection and presentation of specific contents within a selected text contributes to establishing the significance of the story. To endow news texts with social relevance and thereby ‘justify claiming the audience’s attention’ (Bell. and a speech by PA President Abbas verbatim – reflecting the paper’s second identity as the official publication of the PA. the Palestinian Al-Hayat al-Jadida reprinted a few press statements by the PA. is most noteworthy and suitable to shape the public agenda (McCombs. Harcup and O’Neill. and print the entire source statement (Ctrl-A.g. essentially reprinted text with few changed expressions and an added headline summarizing the main news).com at MacEwan University Libraries on September 12. its owner..g. Only six articles (~4%) were fully churnalistic. 2016 . 2011. and what about it. Harcup and O’Neill. Wahl-Jorgensen. the most powerful instrument in the journalistic arsenal is placement: Selecting specific claims within the newsworthy material as headlines Downloaded from jou. 2012). 2013). 2011. Rendering society observable to itself. Ctrl-V. conceptualizations of journalistic professionalism (e. Refining and organizing the existing categories based on the empirical findings and the conceptual lens of transformation. Van Dalen et al. we distinguish five main kinds of transformations. 2005). we developed the typologies of transformation practices and patterns introduced below. For another 11 percent of the analyzed texts. and Ctrl-P in most word processing software packages). Bas and Grabe. many transformative practices can serve more than one purpose. based on a set of news values (Galtung and Ruge. Four types – evaluative. and role-conception studies (e.g. In the following. we present each type of transformation and connect it to the existing scholarship.Tenenboim-Weinblatt and Baden 5 analysis (e. 2001). 2009. widely investigated selection of specific source texts as newsworthy. limited to the four keystrokes of ‘ACVP-Journalism’ needed to copy. news-values research (Galtung and Ruge. Many of the largely or entirely untransformed cases can be accounted for by reasons external to the news: For instance. Types of transformations Our analysis reveals a wealth of transformative practices applied to the selected source texts. Beyond the crucial. Evaluative transformations A first group of transformations serves to inform news audiences about which information most deserve society’s attention and why.sagepub. and signals which information. cultural. While each comes with a range of specific devices and common techniques.g. Hanitzsch. 1965. Schudson and Anderson. each serving a different function of journalism and representing a specific way of bringing the news into the audiences’ life worlds. the amount of transformation was quite limited (e. 2013). while the fifth – the professional transformation – is somewhat apart as a ‘meta’-transformation that qualifies the trustworthiness of the entire news piece (see Figure 2). paste. Ctrl-C.

2016 . but most (outside Israel almost all) headlines presented a journalistic summary of either the source text or the covered at MacEwan University Libraries on September 12. reports in the Israeli media on PA President Abbas’ condemnation of the kidnapping of the three Israelis (in a speech released in full by Wafa news agency) were filled with various evaluative markers such as ‘exceptional’ (Haaretz) and ‘surprising’ (Israel Hayom). font sizes. never as main headline. or ‘first time since …’ were used to establish the remarkability of the reported information within a historical context and collective memory (see Schudson. ‘historic’. colors. and shapes used to highlight key information) were primarily the domain of the non-highbrow newspapers. and what about it.g. most sources were covered cross-nationally but were endowed with different salience: Entire front and inner pages dedicated to many of the stories signaled highest relevance in Israel. ranging Downloaded from jou. justifying the front-page placement. Besides explicit evaluations. 2013). For instance.6 Journalism  Figure 2. The text selected for main headlines was occasionally quoted directly from prominent sources. forwardlooking evaluations were almost always journalistic constructions or summaries. 2003) even in most texts left otherwise untransformed. Journalists tended to select markers of historical significance from the source texts and procure suitable qualifications from additional sources. rendering the selection of information for the headline the most consistently achieved transformation. two central ways to underline the relevance of news are references to scale (e. locating the present as a pivotal moment on a continuum extending from the past into the future (Tenenboim-Weinblatt.  Types of journalistic transformation. stories rarely made page 1. and positioning these headlines within the paper. thus positioning selected context through others’ words rather than appearing as authors themselves. is most noteworthy. 2014). ‘50. journalists signal which text. verbal markers of importance and novelty were found across all news outlets. While stylistic evaluative transformations (logos. In our case study. Journalistic headlines acted as ‘relevance optimizers’ (Dor. while in foreign media.sagepub. In the Palestinian media.000 mourners’) and the historical/temporal positioning of events: Qualifications such as ‘rare’. placement was still regularly above the fold. Inversely.

For instance. NYT implicitly criticized Netanyahu’s agenda of tightened military crackdown by contradicting his claims about increased terrorism in the West Bank – said to be in fact ‘not the case’. ‘Netanyahu threatens to do “justice”’). Finally. background. such loss of distance to political statements occasionally also occurred in other newspapers. these journalistic transformations orient news audiences to what they should think and do about the reported information. from advocacy (Waisbord. ‘the PA’. 2012). Especially Israel Hayom frequently used de-attributed quotes in its headlines. referring to Abbas as ‘the President’. Applying evaluative transformations. In addition. journalists endowed speakers with high or low authority by means of connoted references. Most political evaluations advanced in the coverage were achieved thus by simple. White. In other cases. 2009) and interventionist (Hanitzsch. instrumental arrangement of selected facts. usually by PM Netanyahu (e.g. journalists communicate how much they trust or doubt the available information (Bonyadi. where advancing specific political perspectives is part of journalists’ role conception. or appropriating selected quotes. criticizing. corroborating (‘confirm’). Also fact checking was used to selectively present snippets supporting or challenging the source text’s claims – for example. ‘say’). evaluative transformations include an appraisal of the certainty and epistemic status of reported claims and events. Most commonly. calling the kidnappers ‘human animals’. or marginalizing specific positions advanced by sources. shaping the public debate (Benson. They encompass a wide range of journalistic at MacEwan University Libraries on September 12. and there will be repercussions’). 2007) variants of journalism. the article used terminology taken from Netanyahu’s public statements as unmarked quotation. through practices characteristic of media systems marked by political parallelism (Hallin and Mancini. journalists thus provide audiences with an understanding of what is the key information and how it should be appraised. 2016 . or doubtful (‘allege’) reporting verbs.Tenenboim-Weinblatt and Baden 7 from mere allusions (‘at the crossroads’) to specific projections and warnings of ‘fierce reactions’ or ‘a new intifada’. journalists endorsed and reinforced the positions presented in source texts by taking over terminology and arguments. quoting without attribution from a press release of the PM’s office after the kidnapping of the three Israelis: ‘Hamas is responsible. for example. to general tendencies of the news media to index (Bennett. 2011). By use of distancing (‘claim’. 2011. 2004). or by putting expressions into quotation marks (common in the Palestinian media: e. or Downloaded from jou. journalists privilege or denounce political statements by embedding them between supportive comments or criticism obtained from other sources. however. and third-party quotes on the evaluated claims. Political transformations A second class of transformative practices provides political orientation: Reinforcing.g. In heated situations. 1990) and critically appraise specific views. PM Netanyahu’s far-reaching claims were recurrently rendered seemingly ‘centrist’ in the Israeli and Western media by contrasting them against even more radical demands by the far-right cabinet members Lieberman and Bennett. shaping expectations for ensuing events. In the simplest form.sagepub. for instance. Curran. 2012.

when the news media attempted to create a heightened sense of solidarity (Zandberg and Neiger. asking. by using distancing or endorsing reporting verbs. prominently placed in a red banner atop the page in both Yedioth and Israel Hayom. commentary columns were often adjacent to the main news reports. most overt exercises of providing political orientation were limited to the commentary and op-ed columns. For instance. or reinforcing (common in Israel Hayom) the quoted authorities. 2005). Nossek and Berkowitz. 1999. In the coverage of events. 2006). Haaretz). Israel Hayom further augmented Netanyahu’s Bialik quotation by another intertextual reference to Israeli Nobel-prize-winning author Agnon in the main headline. Particularly in Israel.8 Journalism  ‘Abu Mazen’ – and. or the preferred position was subtly backed by instrumentally selected facts and quotes. 2005). This was particularly pronounced in moments of crisis.sagepub. ‘kidnapped’ with ‘missing’. ‘finally. contextualizing. While media across the board commonly transformed and recontextualized political statements. By drawing upon a rich ‘toolkit’ (Swidler. Cultural transformations As a third type of transformation. However. journalists select and emphasize cultural references provided by the source texts. 1989). Only in rare cases did journalists overtly comment upon quoted content within a news report: For instance. Occasionally. this type of transformation thus renders the news relevant to ‘us’ (Bird and Dardenne. Felesteen replaced ‘kidnapping’ with ‘operation’. In the example above. they were usually selected and often highlighted by those news media embedded within the relevant cultural community (in particular. Other implicit political commentary included word substitutions in quoted source texts. as above. Israel Hayom added a yellow circle next to the headline. following the discovery of the three bodies. national. or religious cultural symbols were already present in the source texts. Also irony and sarcasm were used infrequently to express endorsement or criticism: Reporting on President Abbas’ statement that the kidnappers are harming the PA. political slant was mostly either naturalized as self-evident. the popular newspapers).com at MacEwan University Libraries on September 12. 2009. an adjacent column (titled ‘remember Munich’) added an analogy between current events and collective memories of the Munich 1972 terrorist attack. challenging (notably. Yedioth Ahronoth added Israeli flags to Downloaded from jou. he gets it?’. Linking the reported events to audiences’ collective identities. Zelizer and Tenenboim-Weinblatt. for example. this was rarely done in a transparent fashion. Netanyahu’s quotation from a poem by the Israeli national poet Bialik – ‘Vengeance for the blood of a small child Satan has not yet created’ – was picked up by all Israeli news outlets. 2014). the news media also reinforced sources’ cultural references by inserting additional cultural-national symbolism. Al-Hayat alJadida described his statement as ‘fake charges’ and a ‘racist campaign’ aimed to excuse further entrenching the occupation. 2016 . when Netanyahu attacked the unity government between Hamas and Fatah. the news media also mediate a shared experience of society as a whole and create a sense of community (Carey. or even (incorrectly) ‘teenagers’ with ‘soldiers’. Where popular. 1986) of cultural symbols and collective memories (Edy. or add their own references to create cultural resonance (Ettema. privileging or marginalizing specific views.

avoided Israeli-Jewish at MacEwan University Libraries on September 12. Foreign media.g. by contrast.g. in the popular media) and foregrounded culture-specific expressions (e.g. prayer. and descriptions).g. news reports are embedded into a context of collective identity without the need for explanation or justification. clothing. emphasizing universal cultural appeal: It illustrated Netanyahu’s statement that ‘all Israel griefs’ with a photograph of grieving women. Also sources’ addresses and references to collectives (‘Sisters. if not directly experienceable by conveying their emotional contents (e.and outgroups (‘Arabs’. prayer scenes. ‘the occupation’ as common Palestinian reference to Israel. Nossek. and imported from high as well as popular culture (e. ‘I believe I speak for all Israelis’) were commonly transported. both also invoked historic events enshrined in collective memory. which relied almost exclusively on the statement released by Netanyahu. presenting them as hitchhikers).g. evocative language) or embedding the sources within an emotive setting (e. 2004). cutting off all but one Hebrew letter (while the word ‘police’ in English is centrally visible). ‘the nation’) and evoking standing stereotypes.g. architecture.g. To signal cultural relevance. news photography abounded with flags and other symbolic group references (e. puns and TV references). martyrdom. sources and journalists alike referred to collective practices (notably. Furthermore. brothers. used religious analogies (e. Conveying or Downloaded from jou. 2016 . by adding evocative illustrations. 2013). Slightly more explicit variants of cultural transformation include naming in. Emotive transformations The fourth type of transformation often occurs in close conjunction with cultural transformation but focuses on involving audience in a personal rather than a cultural sense: It renders events relatable. iconic visuals). Using symbolic (in exalted collective moments also explicit) ingroup-specific cultural references.g. In the texts. Throughout the coverage. emphasizing the emotive elements in source texts (e. Bild’s story about the discovery of the three bodies.g.g. sacrifice). the discovery of the bodies). ‘we’) was largely reserved to scandals (e. For instance. 2011. they typically dropped all culture-specific references (e. Peters. see below) and tragedies (e. a statement by MP Zoabi. omitting that the victims were Yeshiva students) and emphasized aspects that could have happened anywhere (e. Rather. the binding of Isaac). our steadfast and patient people’. Overt journalistic identification with the collective (‘our troops’.g. since cultural or collective references to outgroups (from the point of view of foreign audiences) mostly distance events as about others. journalists only infrequently referred to domestic commentators or drew linkages to national policy. 2004. 2008) through an accompanying column authored by his wife Tami Arad. Clausen.Tenenboim-Weinblatt and Baden 9 Netanjahu’s quote and constructed an analogy to the mythic case of Israeli MIA Ron Arad (see Tenenboim-Weinblatt. Wahl-Jorgensen. cultural themes. the cap had still been visible). a global cultural symbol. it selected two pictures of the Israeli victims where their yarmulkes are not visible and apparently photoedited the last hints of a cap out of the third (in the reproduction of this picture in other media outlets. In order to domesticate foreign news and relate it to the life worlds of distant audiences.g. colors. inspiring solidarity and a collective experience of events. face the opposite challenge. and specific narratives familiar to the audience (e.sagepub.

the most common emotional responses invoked in the news were outrage. ‘country with a broken heart’. In a rare attempt to elicit positive emotions.g. guns pointed at civilians. grief. all kinds of coverage commonly used signal colors (notably.g. Yedioth Ahronoth’s large red headline ‘It’s a rally of love’ quotes from a speech by one of the mothers in the covered mass rally in support of the kidnapped and their families. Emotional appeals were most salient in tabloids and media close to the reported events but were also occasionally found in highbrow coverage – especially in features – and in the international media.10 Journalism  constructing anxiety and grief. ‘Israel in shock’). and situations were presented as outrageous and unjust. in a front-page story about a statement by the Palestinian government. In our study. Notably. their uses differed: Inside Israel and Palestine. and balance. Alluding to the process of obtaining the presented information and demonstratively documenting accuracy. Guardian and NYT recurrently strung together contributions Downloaded from jou. most commonly raising politically relevant feelings such as outrage or compassion. 2016 . To convey emotional at MacEwan University Libraries on September 12. professionalism in the news has been defined controversially from very different angles in journalism studies and remains a highly ambiguous construct (see Schudson and Anderson. e. they inform the audience ‘How we should feel’ about the news. Emotive language was employed widely but mostly derived from quotes – rarely the journalist herself. Al-Hayat al-Jadida wrapped the source text with evocative images of Palestinian victims and mourners under the headline ‘Bloody morning in the West Bank and the leadership turns to the Security Council to stop the aggression’ (our emphasis). Abroad. Most professional transformations identified below align with Waisbord’s (2013) understanding of professionalism as established practices and processes distinguishing journalism from other actors and fields. only few articles failed to cite some second viewpoint in addition to a selected source text – even though that second view was neither necessarily opposing (Baden and Springer. and related negative emotions.g. nor always very relevant or on the same subject (e. ‘hurting the souls of the prisoners’. news texts reflect upon the journalistic practices underlying the coverage and enable the audience to trust the advanced information. when Netanyahu’s views were contrasted against those of far-right ministers). For instance. black) and evocative illustrations (crying relations. Also the most elaborate version relied on presenting the emotions of other people: Several longer features took their audiences along to empathize with the protagonists. emotive transformations mostly served to engage audiences and occurred especially on the feature pages. circumspection. As the most common professional transformation. However. relief and satisfaction. Professional transformations The last transformative practice negotiates not the relevance of presented news events but the credibility of the news report: Professional transformations signal that the coverage adheres to journalistic norms and accurately represents events according to the journalist’s informed. 2009). anger and frustration.sagepub. during the Gaza war also scared or dead children). emotive transformation commonly served to reinforce political and cultural transformations: Emotions were ascribed to entire collectives (e. 2015. unbiased best judgment.

and a marked separation of reports and commentary – all of which were more common in the broadsheet papers. reinforcing the impartial authority of the news. adherence to balance and diversity norms was limited to half a sentence noting that someone disagreed. contrasting views on rather distinct issues). journalists often emphasized their authority as eyewitnesses. these practices mostly remained limited in the service of the article’s overall tendency. 2016 . Still. even if only in a cursory manner. Kampf and Liebes. or a survey of relevant facts. Instead. While most uses of second viewpoint did little to achieve a balanced presentation. Often. at MacEwan University Libraries on September 12. 2013). Texts conveyed a sense of expertise by alluding to background information. and other plain tokens of professional journalism. they are not independent of one another: One kind of transformation Downloaded from jou. SZ. and NYT. 2011). cited unnamed sources to signal the information networks underlying the report. Galtung. Also references to external expertise. the inclusion of views from the opposing side has been an ongoing scholarly concern (e.Tenenboim-Weinblatt and Baden 11 from correspondents in Israel and Palestine. while the reverse (balancing domestic voices) was common only in Haaretz and Al-Quds (see Davies’s (2008) discussion of the uneven application of the balance norm). Where genuinely contradictory views were presented. these were normally not resolved but arranged in ostensible ‘neutrality’ for the audience to judge – often amid instrumentally selected context favoring one side (see above). a distanced reporting style. but do little to obtain an actual representation of political diversity. Patterns of journalistic transformation Each of the above transformative practices can be found across all investigated media and topics. 2006. Yedioth Ahronot justified its scandalizing of claims made by Israeli Arab MP Hanin Zoabi (which could be construed to express understanding for the kidnappers) with alleged outrage across the political landscape but cited denouncing commentary all from within the government coalition. or a dismissive quote by a political opponent. source texts from the respective other side (Israeli or Palestinian) were consistently balanced by domestic voices. and texts that built professional credibility through explicit argument and transparency were found almost exclusively in Haaretz. and occasionally engaged in fact checking to document quality control. Few articles weighed available information in an open-ended fashion. many cases suggest more professionalism than the report itself redeems. However. Additional professional transformations include fact checking. Specifically within conflict coverage. only few were deliberately distorting: For instance.sagepub. While direct norm violations – such as omitted salient counterclaims or inaccurate quotes – were rare. background facts. even the superficial and performative adherence to professional norms endows the news with a sense of transparency and credibility.g. distinguishing it from other information and inspiring trust – whether that trust is justified or not. Foreign media usually represented both sides. to use Tuchman’s (1978) phrase): They present second views. adding background. conveying the impression that they were on site and spoke with everyone eye to eye. In general. were rare (Albæk. In our study. most techniques perform professionalism to signal rather than demonstrate the observance of journalistic norms (as a ‘strategic ritual’.

g. journalists weight and prioritize them in characteristic ways that reflect different conceptions of what constitutes valuable journalism. pictures of the kidnapped teenagers wearing yarmulkes) and inspire ‘grave concern for the life’ of the victims. Downloaded from jou. Netanyahu – whose statement was the starting point for the analysis –is cited in the subhead blaming Abbas and the PA. contextualizing specific aspects of the news. Evaluative Political Cultural Emotive Professional transformation transformation transformation transformation transformation Measured journalism Accentuated journalism Analytic journalism Directed journalism Immersed journalism Medium Medium Medium Medium Medium High Any Any Medium-high Medium Medium-low Medium-low High Medium-high Medium-high Medium-high High Medium-low Medium-low Medium Medium-high Low High High Low Note: Defining characteristics in bold face. none of which is allowed to dominate at the expense of others. Major political transformations tend to conflict with the balance norms of professional transformation. we found five recurrent patterns of transformative at MacEwan University Libraries on September 12. and the announcement of ‘extensive coverage on pp. The facts are reported neutrally and separated from analysis and commentary. 2016 . while the loss of distance achieved by cultural transformations collides with notions of journalistic objectivity. ‘Measured journalism’ positions the journalist as an involved but open-minded (not dispassionate) interpreter of events. while the commentary headlines (‘The propaganda battle’. Most commonly. which are summarized in Table 1 (defining characteristics in boldface). often comes at the expense of another. The news is marked as important by its placement. Measured journalism A first pattern of journalistic transformation is defined by its balanced attention to all five functions.12 Journalism  Table 1. Specifically. Haaretz initial report on the kidnapping of three Israelis (on June 15’s front page) is divided into one main news report and six separate commentary columns underneath. ‘Netanyahu and Bennett are responsible’) challenge his political views. this style is practiced in the highbrow papers. Illustrations add cultural linkages (e. and highlight cultural and political perspectives without naturalizing any of these. notably Haaretz and Al-Quds. the news avoid overwhelming the audience with emotion or the significance of the moment.sagepub. 3–6’ (in red print). While all functions are addressed. constituting different journalistic styles. For example.  Patterns of journalistic transformation. Combining the above transformation strategies. resisting the heat of the debate to gain a multifaceted understanding and informed citizenry. the wealth of linked commentary.

applied mostly to foreign events. and provides audiences with an informed. The PM’s reflex to blame Hamas is presented as a symptom of growing distrust and hostility. PA President Abbas’ condemnation of the kidnappings was covered as turning point. resulting in further escalation.Tenenboim-Weinblatt and Baden 13 Accentuated journalism A second pattern of transformations banks on the evaluation of events as possible turning points: It embeds current events and source texts into rich situational context.g. It emphasizes the evaluative and political functions of journalism. well-argued understanding of complex issues in the tradition of critical but dispassionate political journalism. Forcefully focusing audiences’ attention on specific moments. explaining how and why they promise to durably affect society – or have already done so. or certainly in case of the escalation triggered by the discovery of the bodies. the dramatic quality is underlined by emotive transformation.sagepub. and sometimes in a more propagandistic manner. Most cases advance some political tendency of responding to the situation (e. and invests heavily into professional transformations. and emotive appeals are absent. Such ‘analytic journalism’ is found exclusively in the broadsheet papers. while criticizing those egging on the current escalation. the same events are normally covered by combining immersed and directed journalism. such news present these as clearly preferable or misguided – sometimes in a more at MacEwan University Libraries on September 12. and choices. which was presented as another turning point (following Netanyahu’s oft-quoted threat: ‘Hamas will pay’). alerting audiences to important occurrences and illuminating them much like Lippman’s proverbial search light. ‘Netanyahu said he knew “for a fact” …’). In addition to the evaluative measures described above (e. Characteristically. Analytic journalism A third pattern focuses on providing succinct and trustworthy analysis. such coverage presents major events outside the society where a medium is located (inside these societies. For instance. For instance. The analysis does not endorse any specific policy but cautions against continuing the current blame game.g. should Abbas’ commitment hold. expressly characterizing Abbas’ statements as ‘exceptional’ and ‘surprising’). NYT responds to PM Netanyahu blaming Hamas for the kidnappings by discussing the credibility of this claim. Haaretz advocated reinforcing Abbas’ constructive stance by cooperating with the PA). journalists shape the public agenda and involve their readers in the making of ‘history’ – even if on a small scale. A rather radical case is Israel Hayom’s appropriation and unambiguous endorsement of Downloaded from jou. Cultural transformations are limited. it scrutinizes likely motivations and interprets the allegation as part of a strategy aimed at disrupting the Palestinian unity government. 2016 . issues. Directed journalism The fourth pattern is defined by its commitment to providing political orientation: Focusing on specific political claims. Coverage leaves no doubt that far-reaching consequences loom – possibly.g. ‘Accentuated journalism’ thus relies on the monitoring of events beyond everyday coverage. Surveying rich background information and critically examining numerous statements (e. see below).

based on an informed appraisal of available information. however. or in a more propagandistic fashion. arranging corroborative background information and supportive quotes.g. 2016 . Conclusion The process of turning textual material obtained from sources into news texts lies at the heart of the journalistic news production process: Even as the collection and selection of Downloaded from jou. following the discovery of the bodies. analogy to the binding of Isaac). demonstrators. enabling the society to partake in the mediated experience of current events. However. and the nation as a whole. a large headline (‘A rally of love’. Jewish references and symbols are also highlighted in the quoted speeches (e. the article suggests the unity of victims. it amplifies individual emotions to become part of the shared fate and identity of the nation. For instance. Felesteen).g. Less commonly. and used to cover moments of domestic tragedy and grief: Suspending all distance. an Israeli flag. some professional distance remains. Immersed journalism The final pattern emphasizes journalism’s role as a venue of cultural affirmation. journalists appear as primary advocates of political positions. all reinforcing Netanyahu’s statements). in Al-Quds) – even if they are discredited. This style of full-hearted amplification and eclipsing dissent often characterizes the coverage of Israel Hayom and other partisan media (notably. This style is mostly found in Yedioth Ahronot and other popular papers. arranging supportive sources and background factoids. Israel Hayom’s front page features six commentary columns. Such ‘immersed journalism’ assumes a distinctive role in enabling a community to practice shared identity and update cultural narratives but comes at the expense of journalism’s political and professional functions. and also political rifts are de-emphasized to foreground a common identity. it equates Netanyahu’s view with those of the journalist and society as a whole (e. while the coverage renounces overtly political content (quoting one speech that ‘This is not a rally that demands for the government …’) and foregrounds consensus (e.14 Journalism  Netanyahu’s statements. Professional norms are paid lip service at most. avoiding naturalization. Such coverage amplifies symbolic events staged by the sources or constructs its own collective narrative. see above) conveys emotion and emphasizes solidarity. and a photograph of the victims’ families. hopes that the kidnapped be returned). citing sources in support of their at MacEwan University Libraries on September 12. political advocacy is achieved by essentially following the argumentation of one source. ‘the whole nation is following with anxiety’). Professional norms are marginalized.g.g. and dissenting views are indexed or even presented substantially (notably. In neither case. Also in the broadsheets and the popular papers. relatives. Using unattributed statements by Netanyahu as headlines (see examples above). Yedioth Ahronot covers a mass rally in support of the kidnapped and their families as a moment of societal self-affirmation: Filling more than half of its front page with a picture of the attending crowd.sagepub.g. while deviant views are absent. Such ‘directed journalism’ reflects an understanding of journalism as partisan and engaged in the advocacy of appropriate policies. ‘nightmare’) and supportive commentary (e. transparency is a major concern. ‘our boys’. Transforming the victims into ‘everybody’s boys’. The perspective is naturalized and further reinforced by evocative wording (e.

medium. The framework of transformation can thus further illuminate how journalistic role conceptions and working contexts. The five patterns turned up in our analysis reflect solutions to this trade-off that are familiar from the literature under a variety of labels (interpretative. While our analysis notes different outlets’ characteristic preferences for particular transformative patterns. and contextualizing quotes also enriches the material to create tangible added value for the news audience. and bringing their professional experience and role conceptions to bear on the selected material. which reflects the multiple. the amounts and combinations of transformations applied should offer valuable insights into the genesis of specific patterns. Not only can the same selected input result in radically different news. political. or emotional charging of the news compromises journalistic professionalism. also strong emphasis on professionalism or evaluative transformation comes at a cost. the observed patterns of transformation document that journalists cannot simultaneously enrich the relevance of news along all five dimensions: Added emphasis on one kind of transformation usually incurs costs for other kinds. but its arrangement amid background material. while the propagandistic merger of directed and immersed journalism clearly reflects editorial policies (at Israel Hayom and Felesteen). 2011). and audience influences the preferred style of journalism: Media within the societies in conflict emphasized immersed and directed journalism whenever dramatic events unfolded. it might be understood as the ‘default’ style of journalism implied if no specific label is applied. also the interaction between event. Mobilizing the resources and routines of the newsroom. Journalists need to strike a balance between the different functions addressed. prioritizing transformations in characteristic ways. and deficits in the news. While it has often been noted that strong partisan evaluation. commentary. has not yet been described as a specific journalistic style. political. etc. tabloid journalism. as well as the qualities of the available source materials influence their everyday practices and routines. As mediatized sources’ materials offer varying amounts of evaluative.Tenenboim-Weinblatt and Baden 15 newsworthy material is increasingly outsourced to news agencies. 2014). Downloaded from jou. giving political direction.). often contradicting impulses that shape journalistic practices (Zelizer. partisan. and result in characteristic qualities of their coverage. search algorithms. their active role in writing the news enables journalists to retain considerable control over the resulting product. and as journalists operate within different sets of constraints and resources. and involving readers both as members of a social collective and as sentient individuals. cultural. journalists’ interventions transform the available texts in highly consequential ways. cultural. and emotive transformations thus serve to bring the news into the life worlds of news audiences – directing attention to shape the public at MacEwan University Libraries on September 12. 2004). Evaluative. the study of journalistic transformations thus provides a more systematic and encompassing view of news production. while foreign media used accentuated or analytic styles in such cases. and emotional references for journalists to pick up (Esser and Strömbäck. However. Highlighting not only what journalists achieve but also what they sideline or forego. Measured journalism appears to be as much a mark of quality broadsheets as it is an active attempt to withstand the politicization and foregrounding of exclusive identities.sagepub. cultural closeness. and social media. pursuing different ideals (Hanitzsch. achievements. which balances the five transformative practices and is thus distinguished by none. 2016 . Only ‘measured’ journalism. cultural. A fusion of analytic and directed journalism is most commonly associated with the Palestinian media system.

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