9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN18 Sociology of Communications and Media Research

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Europeanizing Globalizations II Building AA, AA.325

Pragmatics of Public Sphere(S) - Mediating Facts on Europe for the National Public

The news media deliver descriptions of reality as a representation of facts. Journalistic "fact-world" with specific features is constructed, based on competence which is uniformly distributed in the public sphere. Construction of "fact-world" comprises specific constraints set by interaction between the institutions of journalism and public sphere. Typically, the fact construction mechanism supposes the existence of the objects and events about which it makes statements. The news media also constantly reproduce contexts in which understanding of current events is possible. It is supported by usage of different forms of reference such as deictic expressions of space and time, and by different discursive strategies (Wodak). News discourse is built around belief fixation i.e. socially shared presuppositions, which are also products of the public sphere. Common beliefs are exploited for grounding and anchoring information. In such a process, fact construction activity can be analysed in the universal pragmatic framework i.e. first of all fact construction should represent (Gricean) maxims of adequacy and relevance. Production of "fact-world" is determined in terms of the demand for reaching a rational public consensus. Facts cannot be facts without recognition as such by the public. Journalistic texts can be analysed as a representation of a specific situation between institutions of journalism and the public sphere, and analysis of news texts can help identify some basic features of the public sphere.

It can be seen that any given object domain is structured by particular interconnections between language, journalism practice and the public sphere. Those interconnections are explained on the basis of qualitative analysis of journalistic texts. Comparison of British, French, German and Estonian newspaper coverage of EU-related events gives an opportunity to describe variations of interpretation of said events. Differences can be handled as particular national modality of journalistic fact construction. The European public sphere is, to a great extent, an idealistic construct as evidenced by the news media of different EU member states as their news coverage reflects their respective national interests and as well as the intergovernmental dimension of EU decision making.