Journalism – What It Is and How it Works

March 1, 2003 • Ethics and Quality • by

Studies in Communication Sciences, Nr.3/1.Vol., 2003

This book by Carlo Sorrentino is a guide and reflection on the meaning of journalism in the information society. Written by Carlo Sorrentino, professor of “Theory and technique of mass communication” at the University of Florence, the book describes the role of journalism in a society in which information processing gains more and more importance.

Sorrentino points out that nowadays places and forms of information exchange multiply. What is the role that journalism has in such a context? The entire book tries to answer this question and Sorrentino, using basic theories of mass communication, shows that the professional role of the journalist has obviously changed over time, but its importance is not to be questioned. Indeed, having changed with society, journalism has gained a new and important role: it helps people build their identity in our current complex society through its integrating function.Concerning all the changes that have occurred, Sorrentino also wonders whether the classical definition of “journalist” is still applicable to all the new professions tied to journalism created in recent years. The end of the volume is dedicated to further changes journalism is about to face because of the growing speed of communication and competition: the new scenario that Sorrentino suggests is characterized by an increasing diversification and interdependence of media. Journalism will be more public oriented and unlike in the past, its role will not be to judge or to simplify but to comprehend and to teach how to live with complexity – being able to represent it.

Apart from a consideration of what journalism will become, the book is also a guide: it explains the working of journalism and the operational routines of the newsrooms. The author also describes the process of negotiation between the three main actors involved in journalism: the source of information, the media and the public.

Being his book a sort of handbook, Sorrentino provides interesting data for comprehending the Italian media today, and he suggests other sources that can be useful for readers, such as a list of more than fifty Italian websites dealing with journalism.

The book is certainly a good and thoughtful reflection on the way journalism is changing rather than a guide for beginners interested in the profession.

“Il giornalismo – Che cos’è e come funziona” (229 pages, edited by Carrocci in september 2002) is available only in Italian and is the fourth book that Sorrentino has written in this field (“L’immaginazione giornalistica”, 1987; “I percorsi della notizia”, 1995 e “Cambio di rotta”, 1999).

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