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A journalistic cosmology: a sketch of some social and mental structures of the Norwegian journalistic field.


During the past 15 years, Pierre Bourdieu's writings on journalists and related cultural fields have inspired an emerging subfield in the study of journalism (e.g., Benson 2009; Benson & Marchetti 2005; Hovden 2008; Schultz 2007). The idea that journalists could fruitfully be analysed as a distinct social field was first elaborated by Bourdieu in the article "L'emprise du journalism" (1994) (1), and was later the subject of two televised lectures at Paris premiere in 1996, later published in Sur la television (1996b). Although received favourably by many (including journalists), it was also the object of strong criticisms. One was that Bourdieu offered no new insights (Lemieux 2001) and a crude analysis (" ... [does not do] justice to a complex situation and portrays the profession quite inaccurately as a homogenous whole", Marliere 1998). Another criticism was a lack of scientific rigour, as when Jean-Louis Fabiani (1997) said that Bourdieu, in his analyses of journalists, had taken "a vacation from the empiric requirements of social research". Disregarding what in several cases no doubt were reasonable reservations, the last type of criticism misunderstood not only the nature of the lecture (which was a work of popularization, aiming for a popular debate on the effects of commercial media on the fields of cultural production), but also the collaborative nature of the work--e.g., the first lecture rested heavily on his close colleague Patrick Champagne's work on how journalists construct the social reality they claim to report (1990, 1999), which was again inspired by Bourdieu's work on social magic (Bourdieu 1993b)--and that Sur la television was the culmination of a long history of writings by Bourdieu on cultural and political fields, where journalists from the 1960s onwards turns up with an increasing regularity and a remarkable consistency (for a detailed discussion, see Chapter 3 in Hovden 2008).

A detailed overview of Pierre Bourdieu's sociology of fields is beyond the scope of the present article (for a short introduction, see Swartz 1997). Basically, the concept of field builds on Durkheim's and Weber's view of modern society as one of increasing social differentiation (which contrasts with Marx's idea of the single, homogenous logic of capitalism), where--following Weber--cultural factors have produced not one but several kinds of rationality, each linked to their own particular Wertsphare (the search for truth in science, power in politics, right/law in the judicial system etc., cf. Weber 1988b). Similarly, Bourdieu sees a social field as a specific social microcosm created by long processes of social differentiation, "the site of a logic and a necessity that are specific and irreducible to those that regulate other fields" (Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992: 97), and simultaneously stresses their conflictual nature, where agents of unequal resources (capital) and dispositions (habituses) are locked in social struggles (Bourdieu 1996: 223), the most fundamental of which is the question of who are "worthy" and "unworthy" agents (nomos).

Following a rough structural history of the rise of a journalistic field in Norway, the structure of this field anno 2005--its internal distribution of different forms of capital, habituses and specific forms of journalistic specializations and institutions--is sketched via a correspondence analysis on survey data on members of the Norwegian Union of Journalists (NJ) and Union of Editors (NR). To this statistical model of this social space a corresponding mental space--a journalistic cosmology--is added, demonstrating how specific "professional" attitudes and struggles are linked to varying positions (based on resources), and thus the particular social logic of this field.

The Rise of the Field

One cannot, of course, simply assume the presence of a national journalistic field in Norway today (a question that is anyway an empirical one, and one of degree). Close readings of the history of journalism in Norway, however, do suggest important structural homologies between the longue duree of the history of the Norwegian press and Bourdieu's description of the rise of other cultural fields (e.g., Bourdieu 1996a). The history of the press is thus not only one of increasing specialization, internal competition, the rise of a separate profession etc., but also the history of a gradual strengthening of an internal and external recognition of journalism as important and legitimate in itself, a 'journalismepour le'journalisme, or in other words, the rise of a particular type of symbolic capital (journalistic capital) and charismatic authority (Weber 1978: 241).

Regarding the long history of the field, one must keep in mind that from 1530 to 1905 the region of Norway was subject to foreign rule--first by Denmark, from 1814 by Sweden, and that the rise of the press in Norway is intrinsically characterized by this particular historical situation of political subjugation and societal transformation. For example, the absence of a national capital and national institutions meant that the press in Norway did not only appear much later than in the neighbouring countries, and but also that it did not achieve a national character until the 19th century (Bastiansen and Dahl 2003: 47). It also meant that being an editor, in particular after 1814, was linked to national patriotism and an adversary role in relation to the government, a fact that no doubt was important for the later development of a professional ethos (cf. Eide 2000).

To get an understanding of the extensive processes of differentiation that have taken place in the case of journalism, it is instructive to contrast the newspaper of today with the printing office in the 1830s: Combining publication of newsletters and periodicals with publishing business and other kinds of printing work (e.g., calendars), early "news work" was characterized with a very low degree of specialization and weak differentiation from other areas of practice. The publication was usually assembled by the printer (often in cooperation with someone with the free time to do this kind of work on a parttime basis, usually a public servant), and the contents of the leaflets were often mainly written by outsiders--before 1830 usually for a fee paid by the contributors to the printer (Heyer 1995: 157). There was little difference between books, newsletters, magazines and periodicals, not only in printing technique, but also in the forms of presentation and contents (Bastiansen and Dahl 2003: 113). Newspaper layout in the modern sense, with a clear distinction between stories and advertising, typographic marking of sentences of different importance and separate headlines for each story, did not appear until around 1900 (Heyer 1995: 315)--the same period in which "modern" journalists and editors first emerged as a distinct social group (Eide 2000: 230).

During the 19th century, the number of newspapers in Norway and their circulation increased sharply (for some of the reasons behind this, see Heyer 1995), which had a number of important structural consequences (in addition to greater financial independence): First, it made it feasible for the largest publications to hire full-time employees (the first full-time editor for a newspaper appears in 1841, but part-time editors were still common at the turn of the century, cf. Eide 2000: 66), increasing the social variety of press workers (many of the new editors at this time were civil servants in part-time position and students), and enabling a greater differentiation of journalistic roles--at its most basic, a separation between owner and editor. Second, the same factors also contributed to a greater social variety in readers: Whereas in the first part of the 19th century civil servants, the bourgeoisie and the intellectual petit bourgeoisie were the main readers of newspapers, in the second half newspaper reading became a regular activity for almost every social group, and newspapers were established in every major population centre (Heyer 1995: 178). This broadening of the newspapers readership, with their corresponding variety in implicit and explicit demands, was also conducive to the increasing differentiation of journalistic products (both in terms of types of newspapers and genres), a process also hastened by the increasing competition between newspapers. Towards the end of the 19th century, one can thus observe many indicators of an embryonic field of journalism, where areas of practice we now term journalism are separated from other activities and practices, with their own specialized institutions, agents and, importantly, corresponding beliefs in the value of journalistic autonomy ("[the newspaper] VG is not an agency for anyone, except its own convictions of what best serves national and democratic progress", wrote editor Ole Thommesen in 18942).

An important change happened with the introduction of parliamentarism in 1884. With the introduction of political parties, most newspapers became part of the parties' press organizations, which contributed to quintupling the number of newspapers from the 1870s to the 1920 as every political party wanted to have newspapers in every city (Bastiansen and Dahl 2003: 240). Rather than seeing the party press system, which started eroding the 1970s (3), as simply subjugated by and part of the political field in this period, the complex interwovenness of the press and political institutions makes it arguably more correct to describe this structure as a political-journalistic field. If editors primarily held a subservient role in relation to the party, some of them, like Martin TranmEel, "led the party as much as being led by it" (Eide 2000: 2008). Contrary to the widespread professional narrative of the party press period as the dark ages of Norwegian journalism, one also might speculate as to whether this system was not something of a Felix culpa in the long-term perspective for journalistic autonomy, as it gave time for the press to fundament the idea of a "mission for society" and associated journalistic ideals while relatively shielded from the most naked logic of the economic field4.

From the first kindling of a modern press towards the mid-19th century and for the next one hundred years, Norwegian society was in a semi-permanent state of rapid change and upheaval, experiencing the birth of political parties and strong political antagonism, national independence, rapid modernization and industrialization, economic depression and two world wars. It is thus perhaps not strange that these are the times of the "great editors", the times of the editor-as-prophet in a Weberian sense, as the bearer of original charismatic authority, challenging the orthodoxy of powerful elites (primarily that of the state and government, later also that of economic and political restrictions on journalism), whereas the inter-and post-war years become the time of the gradual routinization of charisma where, similar to what Weber (1978: 1121) says in the case of religious leaders, "the unique transitory gift of grace of extraordinary times and persons" had to be transformed "into a permanent possession of everyday life". Through struggles, journalistic charismatic authority was transformed into authority by tradition, and the practice was formalized and hierarchized, codified into rules of conduct, laws and norms. Some important outcomes of this process were the establishment of The Norwegian Press Association (NP) in 1910, and The Oslo Association of Editors in 1930 (from 1950 as a national association). A professional committee (PFU) was formed in 1929 and a code of ethics was approved by NP in 1936. An especially important bill, the Magna Carta of the press (Eide 2000: 79), "The rights and duties of the editor", was signed by the association of editors (NR) and the association of newspaper owners (NAL) in 1953, providing the editors with a formal guarantee of a certain freedom from their owners in the daily editorial production of the newspaper. One can also see the appearance in the 1950s of the first major prizes for journalism, which--in addition to the many journalist organizations and social meeting places--provided important sources of peer-based journalistic recognition.

During the 1950s and 60s, the press experienced a steady growth. Newspapers' content changed, partly to accommodate to new groups of readers and the competition from television, a move that included more content directed towards women and young people, and a movement away from high culture towards popular culture, and a decline in "views" in favour of "news" and popular journalism (Ottosen et al. 2002). The two major tabloids spearheading this trend, VG and Dagbladet, gradually increased their circulation during the past fifty years, and in the 1970s and 80s firmly established themselves as national dailies. In the same period, new publications and new forms of journalism appeared. Also, broadcasting in Norway has seen many changes: from the first official broadcast by NRK television in 1960 and until 1981, there existed only one television channel and one radio channel. Broadcasting outside NRK was legalized for radio in 1981, for television in 1988, and followed by the first major private national challengers to NRK (the radio channel P4, est. 1994, and TV2, est. 1992). In the past twenty-five years, not only has a myriad of smaller private competitors appeared, but NRK has also increased its number of television and radio channels. In addition to the increase in the number of broadcast journalists (and the many new forms of journalistic specializations and work tasks associated with this form of journalism), other new entrants have also arrived in the form of journalists from the fast-growing specialist press and magazine press, continuing this process of differentiation in every form (Table 1).

If the press in the post-war period most certainly have become more entrenched in an economic logic, this period is also characterized by a particularly conspicuous inward turn in Norwegian journalism, where journalists, Odd Raaum (1999: 56) observes, more and more " ... felt free to decide both issues and news angle, and the criteria should not be political relevance, defined by politicians, but journalistic interest, defined by journalists" (in other words, as a increased belief in a specific symbolic capital). As should be evident, however, this idea and corresponding autonomy did not rise instantly, phoenix-like, from the smouldering of the party press system (a belief whose strength in many journalists' minds appears to rest on a subconscious narrative of original sin and following salvation), but was a slow process starting long before national independence in 1905. One of many interesting expressions of this increased appeal to an internal logic can be seen in the historical changes in the code of press ethics, describing a change from a focus on the press's responsibilities to the press's rights, and where the earlier stress on carefulness (in reporting) and the need for a balance between the press's need to inform and the consequences for the individuals concerned has been replaced by a stress on the credibility of the press, the press's right to inform and its role as a protector of freedom of speech (Serum 2006).

In short, it seems not unreasonable to suggest that the history of the Norwegian press can be read as one of a gradual formation of a national social field of journalism in Bourdieu's sense, where the practices that we now think of as journalism have gradually separated and gained a certain autonomy from other practices. The many present similarities with other Nordic media systems--a large number of newspapers per capita (225 newspapers were published last year), high newspaper circulation and readership (6), and a strong position of public service broadcast media (Hallin and Mancini 2004) (7) are no doubt partly due to important historical parallels, not least their similar history of a strong party press.

The Structure of the Field

To understand any social field, one must first give consideration to its borders. And when journalism in Norway often is referred to as an "open vocation", this emphasis on formal equality is contrasted with marked patterns of inequality in recruitment into the profession. In the first government-initiated study of power and elites in Norwegian society in the early 1970s, it was concluded that the journalistic profession was "characterized by distinctly high-status backgrounds", with a clear underrepresentation of journalists with fathers in industry, farming and fishing (Lorentzen and Heyer 1976). Newer official statistics linking the occupational data of children and parents tell a similar tale today (Table 2).

One can first note that Norwegian journalists show a clear tendency towards generational reproduction (the chance of a journalist's son becoming a journalist is more than ten times as high as for the son of an unskilled industrial worker, and also much higher than for the other occupations listed), and that this form of social reproduction appears to be at least as strong, if not stronger, for journalists than for teachers and engineers (but less strong than for lawyers and physicians, two occupations that are much more closed to social mobility). If journalism, by contrast, appears to have a relatively broad social recruitment, it recruits predominantly from middle and upper social strata, where children of fathers who are academics, teachers and industry managers have a disproportionally strong likelihood of entering the field. This inequality, as Table 1 shows, has traditionally also been very marked in regard to gender.

To sketch the structure of the Norwegian journalistic field (9), a paper questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 2705 members of The Norwegian Union of Editors (NR) and Union of Journalists (NJ) (10), of which 1203 responded (a response rate of 45%11). From this data, a multiple correspondence analysis (specific MCA12) was done using indicators of various forms of capital in the field (text box 1). The analysis suggests that the space of Norwegian journalists in 2005 (Fig. 1) was principally organized around two hierarchical principles of division; a first division of seniority and the volume of field-specific capital, and a second internal division separating journalists according to their volume of journalistic (symbolic) capital. To these oppositions, however, there are many concurrent oppositions, which together help establish the specific logic and cosmology of the Norwegian journalistic field.

The first principle of division (north-south in the map) is one of seniority, as it opposes the older journalists to the younger journalists. Not unexpectedly, as capital takes time to accumulate, this is also largely a division in the field-specific volume of capital, where younger journalists are defined most of all negatively, that is to say, by their general lack of capital. It is also an opposition of male vs. female, partly reflecting the historically increasing proportion of female journalists (which makes them on average four years younger than the males), and partly their generally subordinate position in the field. To perceive this as a simple gender/generation gap, however, would be to miss much of its underlying logic. The axis also opposes journalists working in newspapers (local and regional newspapers in particular) to those working in broadcasting (in this way, also reflecting an opposition of seniority at the institutional level, separating "older" and "traditional" publications and types of mediums from younger), and those working in the most traditional subjects of journalism (politics, foreign, national and local news, sports and crime) to subjects that are less consistent with reigning journalistic ideals, like lifestyles, consumer affairs and entertainment, which are commonly dealt with by younger journalists. Culture journalism is also located at the lower rungs of this hierarchy, being more often the affairs of young and female journalists, whereas politics, foreign news, crime and sports are located higher according to an inverse logic. The younger, dominated pole of this axis is also characterized not only by very different lifestyles and cultural dispositions than those of the older journalists, but also by inferior wages and working conditions (they more often report high levels of stress, dissatisfaction with work, having only temporary contracts, finding the working environment unfriendly, and so forth). This linking of all sorts of "professional" differences with human biology no doubt has a neutralizing effect on the disadvantage of the most dominated, as their differing journalistic interests, ideals and work can always be dismissed as immature, or in the case of women, as an expression of naturalness, both antonymous to the lay ideas of professionalism, which is always "cooked" (cf. Levi-Strauss 1994).

The second principle of division (left-right in the map) appears predominantly as a volume axis of symbolic capital, as almost every indicator for journalistic power and prestige is situated on the left of the axis. Placed towards the left dominant pole we find those who have won or been in the juries for the most prestigious journalistic prizes, who have occupied the most important positions in both the union of journalists (NJ) and editors (NR), and those who have been selected for important committee work. In this way, they are in a very privileged position to influence journalistic ideals and norms --and thus the nature of journalistic capital--according to their own inclinations. They are more likely to have published a scientific article on the subject of journalism and to have a Master's degree, which means that they are able to bring a certain scientific capital as a weapon to journalistic struggles. They also more often participate directly in the reproduction of the corps by lecturing and censoring the next generation of journalists. Unlike many specialized social fields (e.g., the field of chemistry), the position of internal status in the journalistic field is also closely linked to public notoriety (they are for example much more likely to have had their picture in a national paper in the past year, also when disregarding by-line photos).

The accumulation of journalistic capital--the specific form of honour and distinction widely recognized in this field (13)--is not distributed evenly, but tends to proliferate around certain journalistic specializations and publications. Not surprisingly, the axis follows an organizational hierarchy in news organizations, with editors, sub-editors and various types of supervisors on the left and basic journalists and non-journalistic specialists (including graphic designers and video editors) located on the right. Furthermore, we find that the same axis divides journalists in the large national newspapers and (to a lesser degree) the state-owned public broadcaster NRK from those working in magazines and local newspapers. Simultaneously, the axis separates some of the most prestigious journalistic subjects (foreign news, political news and economy) from the beats of medium (sports, crime) and low journalistic prestige (celebrities, lifestyle, health, and consumer) (14). In light of the history of a strong party press in Norway, it is interesting to note that the propensity to deal with national political subjects is correlated with political capital, not only accumulated by the journalists themselves (who are more likely to have held a position in a national political party), but also inherited, by more often having fathers with political experience from local and national politics. The journalists preference for a particular political party or bloc, however, barring variations that follow traditional differences in socio-economic factors (e.g., the Socialist Left being more popular among younger and female journalists), appears to be of minor importance in the current status of this field of forces. This is also indicated by the way newspapers traditionally affiliated with different parties (e.g., Aftenposten, Dagbladet, VG) are grouped quite close together in this space.

Text box 1. The analysis of correspondences
(The space of Norwegian journalists)

This statistical model was based on a multiple correspondence
analysis on 958 individuals. To indicate the respondent's position
in the field (and thus, in its aggregated form, suggest the basic
structure of the field) 12 questions and 49 modalities were chosen
as active categories:

Indicators of inherited capital (3 variables, 9 modalities):
father's occupation (public sector, education, culture/private
sector, technician, clerk/agriculture, fishing, manual work),
mother's occupation (like father), father or mother having held
political office (father or mother held national or regional
political office/local political office/no political office).

Indicators of educational capital and educational career (2
variables, 7 modalities): educational level (no higher
education/1-2 years of higher education/3-4 years/5 or more years),
type of journalism education (university college/other/none).

Indicators of various forms of specific capital and professional
career (7 variables, 33 modalities): number of years having worked
as a journalist (< 10 years/10-20 years/>20 years), having received
a major journalistic prize (SKUP or The Great Prize for
Journalism/other prize for journalism/no prize), having been on a
jury for a journalistic prize (yes/no), office in the press
organizations (national function/local/regional function/none),
being (now or earlier) in the top management of a media
firm/publication (large publication/smaller publication/no), being
(now or earlier) in the middle management of a media
firm/publication (large publication/smaller publication/no),
current employer (NRK/NRK regional-district/TV2, other national
commercial broadcaster or television production company/VG or
Dagbladet/leading regional newspapers (Stavanger Aftenblad, Bergens
Tidende, Adresseavisa, Aftenposten)/other national- or large
city-newspaper/large local newspaper/medium local newspaper/small
local newspaper/non-daily local newspaper/weekly press/specialist

The eigenvalues for the first six axes are 0.181, 0.130, 0.114,
0.113 and 0.111. Because in MCA the number of active variables
influences the maximum percentage of the total variance a principal
axis can explain, these raw inertia rates understate the
explanatory power of the model. Using Benzecri's modified rates,
which are considered to give a more realistic estimate (Le Roux and
Rouanet 2004:200), the first axis explains 59% and the second 13%
of the inertia in the tables (a difference that should not be
confused with their analytical importance)--72% combined, whereas
axis 3-6 each explain between 6-4%. The combination of a clear
"drop" in the explained inertia after the second axis and the
finding that the third axis is unstable vis-a-vis the fourth axis
according to Michael Greenacre's (1984:213) criteria for internal

Journalistic status and power are not independent of social chances. The closer to the pole of status and power you are in this particular universe, the more likely it is that your father was an editor rather than a regular journalist, a principal or a secondary teacher rather than a primary school teacher, or a managing director rather than an industrial worker. This specific journalistic hierarchy is thus also a social hierarchy, separating those raised in families with more capital (in particular, educational capital and cultural capital) from those with less privileged backgrounds (Table 3). Finally, the fact that second-generation journalists are much more likely than first-generation journalists to gather towards the dominant pole indicates a tendency towards a direct social reproduction of the journalistic corps. By this logic, the effect of informal socialization of new journalists in the news rooms on the homogenization of journalistic products (e.g. Breed 1955) is perhaps less important than the silent orchestration of habitus, as journalists, following their own dispositions, are attracted to journalistic publications and specializations that "suit" them, that is, correspond with their habitus, and are perceived by the editors as "suitable".

A Journalistic Cosmology

This particular topology of power, where journalists are located in terms of various degrees of a dominating or dominated relation--or, if one prefers, in different journalistic classes--valorizes this journalistic symbolic space. Applying a homologous logic to the different social value attributed to cultural practices through their placement in the social space (Bourdieu 1984a), the general structure of the Norwegian journalistic social cosmos is transformed by journalistic struggles into a sacred cosmos, a symbolic order, where various forms of journalism and journalists are hierarchically ordered according to internal worth (e.g., the difference between the low status of the forms of "cultural journalism" associated with the magazine press and young women, versus the higher status of national political journalism). This particular structuration of the journalistic field appears "in the last instance" as being overdetermined by the overarching logic of the Norwegian social space (the relations between the various social classes and between the sexes). This is suggested not only in the way the symbolic hierarchy of the journalistic field is also a social hierarchy, where the symbolically dominating journalists are characterized more often by a dominating habitus, but also by the homology of the positions of various publications and journalistic specializations in the social space and in the journalistic space--cf. for example the high internal prestige of foreign and economic news in the field and the relatively high social position of the readers of this content (Hovden 2008: 68).

In Figure 2, some journalistic position-takings are roughly mapped onto the general structure of the journalistic field presented earlier (16). First, one can identify a relatively small but powerful "religious status group" (Weber 1978) in the field, a charismatic elite (often columnists or editors in the largest national publications, or leaders for central journalistic institutions) in the north-west sector of the structure of the field, who are central interpreters of the sacred journalistic tradition and its canonical texts (above all, its code of ethics and "The rights and duties of the editor"). These pundits of the press, by virtue of their position, are able to wield great symbolic power and influence the symbolic hierarchies and the field's borders (what is "real" journalism or not) through their presence in national media, on juries and in central organizations, and everywhere else journalistic worth is debated. Together with the upper-middle classes of journalistic charisma (middle left, typically highly placed "hard news" journalists in national media and the largest regional newspapers), they appear to be characterized by a relatively intense and intellectualized journalistic-religious life, a personal ethic of journalistic salvation (cf. Weber 1978: 540), with a powerful illusio, a strong feeling of "being a journalist" and identifying with the "journalistic mission for society". They also more often express charismatic or intellectual ideals of journalistic work (opposing the view of journalism as "just a job" or a "craft"), and appear more concerned with journalistic autonomy (e.g. more often agreeing that "the media are not powerful enough"), and with strong animosity towards other social elites, above all politicians (e.g. they have highly negative attitudes towards letting political elites appear "unopposed" on television and journalists engaging in politics) and with strong taboos concerning contact with sources or mixing journalistic work with other types of work. Their ideals of journalistic purity are contrasted by the "mass religiosity" of the journalistic masses, who, if in need of sacred legitimation of their mundane activities (here, the idea of a "mission for society" no doubt functions like a "sacred canopy", cf. Berger 1967), appear to be much less moved by the intellectual and charismatic side of the journalistic-religious ideas. This applies in particular to the symbolically most dominated journalists, who appear, to use Weber's term, "religiously unmusical" (1988b) or in some cases even sacrilegious in their views (e.g. not seeing investigative journalism, or even free journalism, as important) and who express a weaker personal sense of "being a journalist", no doubt partly because they often have journalistic work that makes it hard to identify with the status elites' proclamation of general ideals of journalism (often technical specialists and younger journalists working in "soft news" and the least prestigious types of media, like private regional broadcasting or magazines).


To this left-right opposition, between the journalistically sacred and profane, pure and impure, there appears a top-town opposition, which generally opposes the youngest and the older journalists, the males and the females, and also often quite different journalistic ideals. This is e.g. seen in the way younger journalists are much more negative towards the idea of "shared ideals" and "the same basic competence" as a journalistic ideal (in other words, rejecting journalistic universalism in favour of pluralism), and by their lesser concern with political neutralism, differences that can probably largely be linked to different historical experiences, their higher educational level and that they work in a more diverse range of journalistic mediums and departments.

When the same journalists were classified by way of cluster analysis by only their adherence to different types of journalistic ideals to test this model of the field, the result was four "types" which are closely linked to the main oppositions found: "Educators" combine deliberative and educational ideals with a high thrust in the journalistic institutions (placing upper left in the field), the last also a trait shared with the "Mirrorers" (upper right), whose prime ideals are neutralism and objectivity, and also expresses a more craftmanslike ideal of journalism (including a rejection of creative ideals, the value of journalistic specialization and higher education). "Investigators" see investigating the powerful as the prime journalistic ideal (mid-lower left) and "Agnostics" (mediumlower right) are characterized primarily by their lack of any strong connection to any of the listed journalistic ideals (17).

The Economic World Reversed?

At its most fundamental, the space of Norwegian journalists echoes the "classic" structure of intellectual fields: a first separation according to seniority, which is also one of volume of field-specific capital, and a second separation according to the field's dominant form of symbolic capital (journalistic capital). Thus, even if this field, as noted initially, appears to differ from the intellectual fields as described by Bourdieu owing to its lack of a "restricted scale" subfield as all journalism is in effect "large scale"-oriented (directed towards an audience who are not also producers, in contrast to e.g. the field of higher mathematics), this second organizing principle of the Norwegian field divides individuals according to different levels of peer recognition, and also a "journalism for journalism's sake". In this way, the structural logic of the Norwegian journalistic field appears to contain elements of a struggle between an autonomous vs. heteronymous principle similar to that which Bourdieu sees as common to all cultural fields (Bourdieu 1996a: 216).

A more detailed comparison of the proposed structure of Norwegian journalistic field and the French journalistic field as suggested by Bourdieu must however be very tentative, because of the nature of most of his writings on journalism: often delivered in popular genres or as general comments in writings not aimed at the minute workings of journalistic fields (Bourdieu himself never did a similar analysis of French journalists). The lack of empirical precision in these texts, in particular when it comes to the analytical level and selection of individuals and institutions, makes it easy in a comparison to mistake dissimilarities for similarities and vice versa (is Bourdieu in Sur la television speaking mainly of a Parisian journalistic field, of internal relations between dominant agents and institutions similar to his analysis in Homo Academicus (1984), or is he speaking of a more general national field? Which selection of publications and journalists did he have in mind? Were journalists in magazines or the specialist press part of the picture? etc.). This problem is not only related to discussions of structure, but also to other features of the two journalistic fields, which, as in the case of autonomy or illusio, one must expect to vary greatly with the sample and level of analysis of the field (e.g., an "elite" analysis of editors and subeditors in large newspapers versus my more general and heterogeneous sample of the field's agents). Keeping these uncertainties in mind, I will risk suggesting some apparent disparities between my analysis of the Norwegian journalistic field and Bourdieu's analysis.

Bourdieu (1998) describes the French journalistic field as fundamentally divided between newspapers that give news (stories and events) and newspapers that give views (opinions and analysis), contrasting mass circulation newspapers like France Soir and smaller intellectual newspapers like Le Monde Diplomatique. Even if there is evidence of marked antagonisms between journalists in the larger commercial and the smaller intellectual media in Norway (Hovden 2008: 169-176), which might be important for an analytic sublevel (e.g., a space of national and regional newspapers), this opposition appears to be of secondary importance for the logic of the Norwegian journalistic field on a national level. Rather than an opposition between news and views, intellectual and commercial, the Norwegian field appears to primarily follow a centre-periphery logic (opposing larger national and smaller regional media) and be related to the distance to the most traditional journalistic publications and "beats" (e.g., journalists in the traditional press and NRK vs. journalists in the magazine press and commercial broadcasting, hard news vs. soft news, etc.).

If these apparent dissimilarities do reflect real differences between the French and Norwegian situation, it seems reasonable that some of the explanation is related to the different newspaper traditions: In contrast to both France and England (Curran et al. 1980, Sparks 1988, Hallin and Mancini 2004), Norway has for decades been dominated by omnibus newspapers, a situation that Martin Eide (1998) termed newspaper schizophrenia, where the most base forms of tabloid journalism are mixed with analytical commentaries and critical journalism in the same newspaper (Dagbladet and VG are prime examples) (18). Rather than developing a distinct "pure" popular press similar to The Sun in England or Bild Zeitung in Germany, the Norwegian publications that most clearly represent this form of journalism (VG, Dagbladet, TV2 News) are central to the public debate. Intellectual newspapers, if on the rise, are still marginal in Norway: the weekly publications Morgenbladet (14,000 per issue) and Dag og Tid (7,000) (19) are probably the two closest candidates. Traditionally, semi-popular journals (with a monthly or less frequent publication) have filled some of this niche in Norway.

Another pronounced feature of the Norwegian journalistic field appears to be the concurrence of almost every major form of capital both internal and external to the field--political, economic, scientific, and intellectual--in a veritable amalgam of power. E.g. the journalists in Dagbladet and Aftenposten combine high journalistic prestige (a placement towards the upper left in the map) with high salaries and a large company (economic capital / total journalistic "weight"), with a relatively large proportion of journalists with political experience through themselves or their parents holding a political office, relatively many with a Bachelor's or Master's degree (educational capital / intellectual capital / scientific capital), more often having parents who have been journalists (which is partly a form of journalistic capital, but also a social capital) and/ or from relatively high social positions (a dominating habitus), etc.

It is, however, difficult to say whether this lack of differentiation of journalistic products and in the distribution of capital primarily reflects the fact that the journalistic field in Norway has had relatively little time to develop. It could also be an effect of greater social homogeneity (both of the Norwegian society in general, and of journalists as a group). It might also be a kind of "limiting effect" on heterogeneity effected by a relatively small market, amplified by the large number of publications per capita, which means that the total number of journalists in Norway and the number of journalists per publication is, by international standards, relatively small (in 2005, only five newspapers had over 100 journalists in their staff (20)), remembering that for Durkheim (1997: 210), social differentiation was an effect of competition following social concentration. Cross-national studies are needed to provide information on the importance of such factors on the formation of social fields.

A Charismatic Economy

Symbolic capital in the Norwegian journalistic field, if historically constructed against the commercial field (as well as against the political parties and the State), appears today in the eyes of the majority of its agents to be largely unproblematic. Some of the mechanisms of this Janus-like field economy are quite obvious. A large national newspaper can, e.g., in contrast to a small local newspaper, because of its larger number of readers (and thus large income), afford to hire more journalists, and have a far larger degree of journalistic specialization (e.g., hiring columnists for political news and culture), and to put several journalists to work on a single case for weeks--a quite unthinkable luxury for a small newspaper. Such mechanisms, which obviously increase dramatically the chances for winning a journalistic prize and peer recognition, demonstrate how economic capital in this field can relatively easily be converted into symbolic capital (going from a "large" to an "important" newspaper in the eyes of journalists). A large newspaper can also offer its journalists higher wages and a large audience (which also means having a constant presence for other journalists, thus forming the basis for a social capital that is important when positions and prizes are to be distributed), and thus attract journalists who, in turn, contribute with work of high symbolic value to the internal recognition of the publication. Conversion also happens in reverse (from symbolic to economic capital), e.g. via economic advantages linked to the qualification required for the access to state subsidies (in Norway "newspapers" are exempt to V.A.T, but "magazines" are not).

This relative ease of conversion between symbolic and economic capital in this field no doubt has important structural effects, contributing to a mystification of the fact that symbolic (holy) power is very often based on economic (profane) power, and, following the logic of Calvinist thought, cultivating a belief in economic success as a symptom of religious grace (cf. Weber 1988a). And even if the editors of the larger publications must pay this price by, to paraphrase the clerical advice given to Protestants when producing children, making an effort to "soberly produce newspapers", these characteristics of the field appear to be a central reason for its fundamental allodoxia (mistaking one thing for another), where symbolic success (internal prestige) is often linked with economic success (a large circulation/audience) and confused with democratic success (a real contribution to the public debate, the press as "the fourth estate", etc.). In the end, this supports the suspicion that the Norwegian journalistic field has a very weak autonomy, as by Orwellian logic, any surrender of journalistic freedom to the tyranny of the economic market, no matter how blatant, can always be reframed and celebrated as an increase in journalistic liberty.


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(1.) Note that one can find explicit references to a journalistic field already in the mid-1980s (Bourdieu 1984b, c), and it is also implied in earlier works (for example, he speaks of a "space of newspapers" in a publication from 1977 (Bourdieu 1993 a).

(2.) Quoted in Eide 2000: 65.

(3.) The exact time of death of the party press in Norway is much debated. Dagbladet declared themselves "a Liberal Party newspaper with a small letter T" in 1977, but several newspapers did not break with their political parties until much later. For the Conservative press, this break happened mostly in the mid-1980s, and in the early 1990s for the Labour press. Cf. Bastiansen 2009.

(4.) Journalists under this system were, e.g., motivated to scrutinize and criticize writings of newspapers associated with the political opposition (in other words, a kind of reader-specific watchdog ideal), which probably also helped found a relation of competition and rivalry not simply reflecting conflicting economic interests. Contrast this with the rise of British journalism, as described by Chalaby (1989).

(5.) For a full list of sources, see Hovden 2008: 125.

(6.) In an international comparison in 2003, Norway was narrowly beaten by Luxembourg as the country with the most daily newspapers per capita (22.6 per mill), compared to 2.3 per mil. in the UK and 1.8 in France. 63% of Norwegians read a newspaper for a minimum 0.5 hours an average day in 2006, compared to 40% of average Europeans (the UK 45%, France 28%). Only 6% say they do not read any politics/current affairs in a newspaper daily, whereas 28% of Europeans say the same (the UK 30%, France 40%). Source: European Social Survey 2006.

(7.) Whereas the last two factors have proven quite resilient to change in the past decade for all Nordic countries (Nord 2008), there are important differences. Of the countries, Norway is arguably today the one with the strongest state intervention (e.g. it is the only one with a specific law regulating media ownership concentration) and the one where the number of party press newspapers has declined the least (ibid.).

(8.) (Singular) odds is the probability p that an event will occur against the probability of it not occurring (p/1-p). The odds ratio (also called relative odds) is the probability that an event for one group is true versus being true for another group.

(9.) In the earliest phase of this work, attempts were made to construct the field via quantified biographical data on known individuals from the journalistic elites, following the example of Homo Academicus (Bourdieu 1988). Acquiring adequate data of this kind, however, turned out to be a very difficult task (e.g., biographic collections were severely out-dated). While the anonymous survey approach clearly means losing some of the validity vis-a-vis a close study of known individuals, this approach later proved to have some advantages. First, it made it possible to sample a much larger number of individuals than would be practically possible using a biographical approach (and in this way get a wider sample of the field's members, not only the elites), and it made it possible to include a large number of comparable attitude questions on journalistic struggles (which could later be used to study the specific cosmology of this field).

(10.) This sampling, of course, raises an important question in the study of social fields, namely their borders. Even if NJ and NR organize a very high percentage (probably more than 95%) of those working in traditional journalistic publications (cf. Hovden 2008: 224), others might argue that journalism in Norway can better be seen e.g. as part of a larger "media field" or a transnational Nordic journalistic field. The argument for a national delineation is complex, and rests partly on the historical argument as sketched in the introduction to this article, to which some support can be inferred via later analysis, e.g. in the way foreign journalists appear very seldom in Norwegian journalists' lists of role models (ibid.: 179), or how analyses of the attitude data suggest that both journalists' judgements of the journalistic competence of other publications (ibid.: 171-176) and professional ideals (Hovden 2010) tend to vary with the main oppositions, as suggested in the model presented here. This said, the question of the correct "level" of a field analysis is partly nonsensical. My choice of an analysis on the national level "... must of course not be mistaken for an ambition to do a 'total analysis' ... but rather as the consequence of my research questions being related to this particular analytical level, motivated both by a belief that these national struggles ... [over-determinates] the struggles observed in its sub-fields, and by my wish to link the description of these struggles to relations of dominance outside the field" (Hovden 2008: 208). Cf. also my discussion of "journalist" as a folk concept (ibid.: 25-30).

(11.) The response rate is somewhat low. Comparison of respondents and the member registers, however, do not suggest any major bias in the sample in regard to available information: gender, age, type of publication and position in the publication (cf. also Hovden 2008: 223-230).

(12.) MCA is a specific form of factor analysis, closely related to principal component analysis, which aims to optimally represent a large set of categorical variables and individuals as two superimposed clouds of points in a low-dimensional space, where the distances are computed on the basis of the chi-squared differences. Cf. Le Roux and Rouanet (2004).

(13.) For a closer discussion of the nature of journalistic (symbolic) capital in Norway, cf. Chapter 6, "The production of journalistic belief" in Hovden 2008.

(14.) A seemingly contradictory finding is that those who have written "entertainment" as their main specialization are located on the left and thus at the dominant pole. A closer look, however, reveals that the members in this category are relatively old (mean age is 42), have long journalistic experience (16 years on average) and work mainly in national television. Knowing that many of the most well-known television "entertainers" in Norway have long successful journalistic careers behind them (e.g. Anne Grosvold), this placement appears less puzzling.

(15.) A larger selection of statistical properties of these institutions can be found in Hovden (2008). A short comment on the categorization: NRK is the state-owned public broadcaster, whereas TV2 is the clearly largest private national television broadcaster. VG and Dagbladet are the two major national tabloids (but much less sensationalist than their British counterparts), whereas the 'major regional newspapers'are Aftenposten, Bergens Tidende, Adresseavisen og Stavanger Aftenblad.

(16.) The figure has been made by studying the placement of various position-takings projected onto the previous MCA as passive points. This information has been used--often combining several variables--to locate general inclinations along their approximate vector directions of this space (towards the lower left, toward the top, etc.) following the logic of presentation of pre-modern cosmologies used in structural anthropology (in particular Bourdieu 1990a).

(17.) For a detailed discussion of this analysis and its relation to other typologies of journalists, see Hovden (2010).

(18.) Note that neither VG nor Dagbladet were originally established as popular papers, but were rooted in projects to enlighten the public from above, and later underwent extensive processes of popularization (Eide 2007).

(19.) Circulation figures for 2005. Source: Host (2006).

(20.) Source: NJ.

JAN FREDRIK HOVDEN, Dr.polit, Associate Professor, Department of Information Science and Media Studies University of Bergen,
Table 1.  Morphological Changes in the Norwegian Journalistic
Body, 1920-2005 (5)

                      Number of    Number of      Number of
         Number of     weekly     national TV   national radio
Year     newspapers   magazines    channels        channels

1920        244          22            0              0
1930        249          36            0              4
1940        201                        0              1
1950        207                        0              1
1960        190          22            1              1
1970        158          19            1              1
1980        211                        1              2
1990        202          27            3              2
2000        218          43            5              4
2005        226          66           10              5

                          Members of      Precentage
          Number of      of unions of      of female
         journalists   journalists (NJ)   journalists
Year        (SSB)      and editors (NR)       NJ

1920         620             400
1930         864             470
1940        1 321            540
1950        1 444            981              6%
1960        1 811           1 326             13%
1970        3 008           1 965
1980        5 536           3 614             20%
1990        8 238           5 932             30%
2000                        9 179             38%
2005                        9 419             41%

Table 2. Relative Odds (8) for Being in Various Occupations
at the Age 30-35 in the Period 1980-1990, According to
Father's Occupation

                                      Child's Occupation at Age 30-35

                                      Journalist   Engineer   Artist

Father's Occupation              N          297       3123      286
Academic                        98          3.7        0.9      0.0
Senior publ.
Administration                 627          1.7        1.4      4.0
Physician, dentist, pharm.      282         2.6        0.9      1.8
Legal profession               108          0.0        1.6      0.0
Teacher, secondary
education                      602          3.0        1.1      1.7
Industry manager             1,961          3.1        1.6      3.3
Teacher, primary
education                      542          1.3        0.9      7.5
Engineer                     1,112          1.6        2.5      3.6
Lower public adm.              383            0        1.8      1.3
Journalist                      97         11.4        1.2      0.0
Trade                        2,832          1.9        0.9      2.1
Clerk / service worker       3,215          1.0        0.8      0.9
Craftsman                    2,266          0.8        1.0      1.1
Unskilled industry           14,001           1          1        1
Peasant                      5,199          0.7        0.7      0.7
Fisherman/hunter             1,179            0        0.6      0.0
Other                        12,569         1.5        1.2      1.7

                                   Child's Occupation at Age 30-35

                                      Teacher   Lawyer   Physician

Father's Occupation              N      4187      143         462
Academic                        98       2.4      0.0         7.7
Senior publ.
Administration                 627       3.0      5.3         7.8
Physician, dentist, pharm.      282      3.8      8.8        43.7
Legal profession               108       2.5     57.0        29.4
Teacher, secondary
education                      602       5.0      1.4         6.2
Industry manager             1,961       1.8      5.9         4.2
Teacher, primary
education                      542       3.6      0.0         5.5
Engineer                     1,112       1.9      3.0         5.0
Lower public adm.              383       2.0      0.0         3.9
Journalist                      97       2.4      8.6         3.8
Trade                        2,832       1.7      2.6         3.3
Clerk / service worker       3,215       1.8      2.1         1.3
Craftsman                    2,266       1.0      0.7         1.5
Unskilled industry           14,001        1        1           1
Peasant                      5,199       1.5      1.0         0.7
Fisherman/hunter             1,179       1.1      0.0         0.6
Other                        12,569      1.7      1.6         2.1

Note: 1950, 1955 and 1960-Cohorts, Norwegian population.
Father unskilled industry worker = 1.
Source: Statistics Norway.

Table 3. The Space of Publications. Selected
Indicators. Percentages (15).

                              NRK,        NRK,              broad-
                            national    District    TV2    casters

n=                                99          74     40         40
% female                          52          35     43         48
Year of birth
  <1950                           14          14      9          1
  1950-59                         23          20     15         13
  1960-69                         37          35     23         15
  1970-                           27          30     52         71
Father's edu. level
  No higher edu                   29          52     51         46
  Master or higher                24          15     17         10
  1-4 years high edu.             47          33     32         44
Father's profession
  Politician/senior               12           5      9          0
    public servant
  Business manager/               13          15      7         12
    small enterprises
  Natural scientist,              11           7     18          7
    economist or lawyer
  Teachers/lecturer in            14           8      3         11
    sixth form or higher
  Engineer or technician           9           9      6         18
  Schoolteacher                    8           8     12         11
  Clerk                            9           3      3         13
  Journalists and                  6           2      3          0
    related trades
  Primary occupation               3           5     15          4
  Craftsman                        1          15      7          3
  Machine worker or                           17     12         15
    unskilled labourer
  Military                         7           8      6          6
Father political office
  Local office                     8          15     12         14
  Regional / national              4           4      4          3
Type of education
  Humanities                      33          32     39         31
  Social Science                  62          70     60         81
  journalism                      45          31     23         50
  Pedagogic                        8           8      6          1
  Other                            3           9      9          4
Journalistic experience
  >20 yrs                         22          30     16          8
  10-20 yrs                       46          36     41         20
  <10 yrs                         32          34     43         72
Prize for journalism
  Major prize                      2           2      3          0
  Minor prize                     13          11      6         10
  Jury for prize                   4           4      1          2
Office in NJ                      37          58     26         18
  <300.000 NOK                    12           9     14         30
  300-500-000 NOK                 69          85     31         54
  >500.000 NOK                    19           6     54         16
Political party voted
  Conservative (H)                12          13     23         13
  Progress Party (FrP)             2           1      3          5
  Labour (AP)                     26          35     26         32
  Centre (SP)                      0           1      0          5
  Christian Demo. (KrF)            1           3      9          5
  Red electoral All. (RV)          7           3      6          0
  Socialist left (SV)             47          35     29         23
  Liberal Party (V)                6           6      6         18

                                                  Major    Large
                             VG /      Other     region.   local
                             Dag-     national    news-    news-
                            bladet     press      paper    paper

n=                              82         94        56      105
% female                        32         37        30       33
Year of birth
  <1950                          6         14        25       21
  1950-59                       30         23        31       23
  1960-69                       29         24        29       22
  1970-                         35         39        15       33
Father's edu. level
  No higher edu                 42         55        57       66
  Master or higher              21         17         7       10
  1-4 years high edu.           37         28        36       24
Father's profession
  Politician/senior              9          4        12        4
    public servant
  Business manager/             15         12        13       13
    small enterprises
  Natural scientist,             7         10         2        3
    economist or lawyer
  Teachers/lecturer in          11          8         4        7
    sixth form or higher
  Engineer or technician        10          6         8       13
  Schoolteacher                  6          3         2        4
  Clerk                         12          7         7        8
  Journalists and                6         11        13        6
    related trades
  Primary occupation             7          6         7        9
  Craftsman                      9         13         7       10
  Machine worker or              6         11        12       11
    unskilled labourer
  Military                       2          7        13       13
Father political office
  Local office                  17         14         9       12
  Regional / national            9          7        11        3
Type of education
  Humanities                    27         26        27       25
  Social Science                57         57        36       56
  journalism                    39         37        22       36
  Pedagogic                      2          5        15        6
  Other                          5         12         5        5
Journalistic experience
  >20 yrs                       42         30        56       41
  10-20 yrs                     37         36        28       32
  <10 yrs                       21         34        16       26
Prize for journalism
  Major prize                   12          6         2        7
  Minor prize                   10          8        10        6
  Jury for prize                 7          2         1        2
Office in NJ                    37         39        41       55
  <300.000 NOK                  10          4         0       20
  300-500-000 NOK               23         62        46       65
  >500.000 NOK                  67         33        54       14
Political party voted
  Conservative (H)              13         12        15       13
  Progress Party (FrP)           2          1         1        5
  Labour (AP)                   33         27        25       29
  Centre (SP)                    2          3         5        2
  Christian Demo. (KrF)          2          4         7        8
  Red electoral All. (RV)        2          5         3        4
  Socialist left (SV)           38         31        23       31
  Liberal Party (V)              8         18        21        9

                            local              Spec-
                            news-    Maga-    ialist
                            paper     zine     press

n=                            236       73        43
% female                       30       51        43
Year of birth
  <1950                        12       19        19
  1950-59                      23       17        39
  1960-69                      26       26        33
  1970-                        39       38         9
Father's edu. level
  No higher edu                61       50        66
  Master or higher              9       21        12
  1-4 years high edu.          30       29        22
Father's profession
  Politician/senior             8        4         3
    public servant
  Business manager/            11       10        13
    small enterprises
  Natural scientist,            6       15         6
    economist or lawyer
  Teachers/lecturer in          5        9         4
    sixth form or higher
  Engineer or technician        3       11        12
  Schoolteacher                10        0         3
  Clerk                         8        4         6
  Journalists and               3        9         4
    related trades
  Primary occupation            8        7         8
  Craftsman                    11       12        15
  Machine worker or            15       11        12
    unskilled labourer
  Military                     11        9        14
Father political office
  Local office                 16       15        19
  Regional / national           5        4         4
Type of education
  Humanities                   22       42        20
  Social Science               42       35        50
  journalism                   27       26        31
  Pedagogic                    10        8        11
  Other                         9        7        13
Journalistic experience
  >20 yrs                      25       29        39
  10-20 yrs                    40       38        38
  <10 yrs                      35       33        23
Prize for journalism
  Major prize                   5        3         4
  Minor prize                   7        7        14
  Jury for prize                2        3         4
Office in NJ                   52       29        55
  <300.000 NOK                 22       16        17
  300-500-000 NOK              63       52        72
  >500.000 NOK                 15       32        11
Political party voted
  Conservative (H)             23       25        14
  Progress Party (FrP)          1        2         2
  Labour (AP)                  29       23        35
  Centre (SP)                   2        0         5
  Christian Demo. (KrF)         6        2         9
  Red electoral All. (RV)       4        2         5
  Socialist left (SV)          27       40        28
  Liberal Party (V)             8        6         2
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Author:Hovden, Jan Fredrik
Publication:NORDICOM Review: Nordic Research on Media and Communication
Date:Dec 1, 2012
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