CONDITIONS OF AGGRESSIVENESS IN US PRESIDENTIAL AND UK PRIME MINISTER NEWS CONFERENCES, 2002-2009

Open Access
Author:
Gobeil, Jonathan MacKay
Graduate Program:
Sociology
Degree:
Master of Arts
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
August 19, 2010
Committee Members:
  • Alan M Sica, Thesis Advisor
  • Paul Amato, Thesis Advisor
  • Amit Schejter, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • press conferences
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • media systems
  • comparative analysis
  • Conversation analysis
  • models of press behavior
Abstract:
Dominating the discourse on the nature of press-state relations is the use of a “model” paradigm that seeks to subsume all of the nuanced dimensions of press behavior into concise models of the press. These models tend to operate on a single dimension used to capture the degree of oppositional (or subservient) behavior, leading to the formation of simplistic interpretations. In order to highlight the nuances of press-state relations, this study draws comparisons between two relatively similar press systems by isolating the conditions associated with aggressive (or subservient) journalism. Data were drawn from US presidential and UK prime minister news conferences from 2002 -2009 which identified features of aggressive questioning. Results showed that, at the individual level, neither the US nor the UK were closely attuned to a particular model of press behavior, and that, when comparing the two press systems, US journalists are systematically more aggressive than UK journalists, while UK journalists are more responsive to prevailing social conditions. I conclude by discussing the theoretical implications of my findings, which serve to diminish the utility of the “model” approach to media studies, while also suggesting that, due to the changing structure of communications, the ways in which the press respond to public interests may be shifting in a new direction.