Perspectives on
Media Research

Title chapter: Journalistic metadiscourse: Press coverage of media policy debates
Author: Binakuromo Ogbebor
Keywords: public sphere; media policy; journalistic metadiscourse; media and democracy; News of the World
Abstract: This chapter explores how the paradigm repair strategy of minimization is used in media policy debates and the implications of such coverage for democracy. Studies on press coverage of media policy assert that mainstream newspapers in Britain trivialize and denigrate efforts to ensure press accountability, in a bid to protect their self-interest (Putnis, 2000: 110; McChesney, 2008: 451; Stiegler, 2013: 137). It is this trivialization and denigration of attempts to reform media policy that are referred to as a strategy of minimization. In this chapter, how the press used a strategy of minimization in the press reform debate that stemmed from the News of the World (NotW) phone-hacking scandal and the Leveson Inquiry is taken as representative of how the press uses a strategy of minimization in media policy debates. Using the methods of content and discourse analyses, this study found that strategies of minimization manifested in the following ways: 1. Playing down press reform efforts that originate from external stakeholders; 2. Playing down institutions set up to bring about press reform; 3. Playing down the scandal that led to a call for press reform; 4. In a discourse of "unfair" treatment of the press; and 5. Critiquing critics of the press's position. The chapter argues that the press's use of the paradigm repair strategy of minimization in its coverage of media policy debates promotes inequality and reduces the quality of media policy debates, the result being the emergence of weak media policies that cannot guarantee a democratic public sphere.
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