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Jacob Ørmen and Andreas Gregersen

In recent years, academics and pundits have taken great interest in the role of storytelling in journalism. The spread of rumors, misinformation, and disinformation in public discourse has intensified, as has the need to decipher the ways in which stories—fake or factual—work. Narratives play a key role in this process. Since time immemorial, stories have been structured in similar styles and around common themes to captivate audiences around the world. Scholars of the arts have for millennia debated what characterizes prototypical and universal stories. They have emphasized narrative elements, such as the organization of events into causal accounts, the choice of narrative perspective, the description of events as intentional actions, the casting of actors into character roles, and the fitting of those roles to types of story plots involving heroes and villains in conflict. News as a form of storytelling also follows conventional structures and organizing principles. As a result, narratives have also played a role in how journalism scholars and practitioners alike understand the particular genre of public communication that is news. The discussion of news as narratives can be approached from at least three perspectives: one emphasizes narratives as a set of conventions for telling any story; another approaches narratives as a particular genre of news reporting—that is, narrative journalism; and a third sees narratives as the core myths that circulate in our society through news, among other forms of communication. Increasingly, scholars also take an interest in how narrative elements affect the ways in which audiences perceive and engage with news.


Michael S. Waltman and Ashely A. Mattheis

Most of the research dealing with hate and hate speech has examined the practices and discourses of hate groups and hate crimes. This work has tended to focus on hate and hate speech directed at African Americans, Jews, and other nonwhites by white supremacist groups. An emerging and growing literature examines hate and hate speech that is used by men to target and harass women. Research in this area has focused on the ways that hate speech produced by organized hate groups and men’s rights activist groups is used to recruit new members, to socialize new members, to radicalize people, and to encourage ethnoviolence. The Internet has had a revolutionizing influence on these groups’ use of hate speech. Additionally, hate novels and “hate music” have played important roles in the recruitment of people into the hate movement and promoted violence against those perceived as enemies of Aryans.


Since the earliest years of the film industry, journalists and journalism have played a leading role in popular culture. Scholars debate whether journalism films—and by extension television programs, plays, cartoons, comics, commercials, and online and interactive stories and games—are a distinct genre, or whether journalists are featured in a variety of genres from dramas to comedies and satires to film noir. They also debate whether a film needs to feature a journalist doing journalism as a primary character or whether having a journalist as a secondary character still counts as a “journalism” film. Regardless, research into depictions of journalists in popular culture is important because the depictions influence public opinion about real-world journalists, as well as the credibility and public trust of the journalism field. Indeed, the influence might be greater even than the actual work performed by real-world journalists. Popular culture cultivates legend and myth, and this cultivation is especially true for a field such as journalism because the majority of the public will never see the inside of an actual newsroom. Popular culture myths about journalism focus on its normative role. Journalistic heroes are the foreign correspondents and investigative reporters who stand for community and progress. Journalistic villains are the lovable rogues, remorseful sinners, and unrepentant scoundrels who break journalistic norms and roles. A wide range of heroes and villains have been depicted on the big and small screen. For every Woodward and Bernstein working tirelessly to expose a corrupt presidential administration in All the President’s Men, there is a Chuck Tatum hiding an injured man in order to keep an exclusive in Ace in the Hole. For every Murphy Brown, a prominent and award-winning investigative journalist and anchor, there is a Zoe Barnes in House of Cards who has sex with sources and knowingly publishes false information. Many of the most interesting depictions, however, feature a character who has aspects of heroism and villainy. For example, Megan Carter in Absence in Malice attempts to be a watchdog reporter but destroys lives with her mistakes. Viewers ultimately are left with the idea that Carter will become a better journalist because of the lessons she has learned during the course of the film. Due to the potential impact of these depictions, entertainers must hold themselves to a higher standard to fulfill their discursive role within the broader republic. Entertainment programming needs a positive ethical code because it helps inform citizens by raising questions, offering incisive observations, and voicing marginalized perspectives. The code is in its nascent stages, but it is past time for media ethicists to develop a social responsibility theory for entertainment and amusement, the dominant role of almost all media.