On society’s reachability, representability, and ability for dialogue: Exploring the interrelation between journalism and social cohesion
In politics and academia, but also in the broader public, there has been wide discussion concerning a sense of dwindling social cohesion most markedly in liberal democracies. One of the virulent questions in this context is the role journalism plays and the common notion that journalism can strengthen or weaken cohesion. However, there is no shared understanding of whether and how journalism or journalistic reporting influence cohesion and whether and in what way journalism is at all responsible for strengthening a society’s cohesion. Against this background, we conducted four group discussions with a total of 21 experts from the fields of journalism, academia, and ‘cohesion practice’ in order to understand how different actors inside and outside the field of journalism view the relationship between social cohesion and journalism. The analysis reveals that there are no systematic differences between the views of these three expert groups. Nonetheless, the many facets of and different perspectives on the topic are fundamentally ambivalent. This is because the interrelation between journalism and social cohesion is characterized by tensions and trade-offs in and between three dimensions: society’s reachability, representability, and ability for dialogue. This also means that journalists need to balance these tensions time and again and, generally, a society continuously negotiates the interrelation between journalism and cohesion. In modern societies, journalism itself is a forum in which this negotiation takes place; and the fact that it takes place already contributes to cohesion, but can also compromise it.
Reimer, Julius, Verena Albert und Wiebke Loosen. 2023. On society’s reachability, representability, and ability for dialogue: Exploring the interrelation between journalism and social cohesion. In: Journalism. doi: 10.1177/14648849231172372.