Social Fact in Journalism - Sociology of Journalism

Social Fact in Journalism

From semiotics it is known that the content of the journalistic text objectively introduced facts and events through which its author is exposed to social reality. Facts and events have a certain form. The form appears before us in the form of certain signs and symbols and looks like a shell of fact. She is the focus of the journalist's attention, because only through the form can the content of the fact be disclosed. U. Eco singled out an important stage of cognition, when the researcher is halfway between the idea of ​​the idea of ​​the fact and the knowledge of its individual manifestation. Everything that is known about the universal is given through the tracks, and the trace is single. Therefore, the fullest, most perfect knowledge is the permeation of the individual.

It is also known that a journalistic work will not be understood by the masses if it does not use one or another familiar system of signs, adapted to the perception of the audience. And since adaptation can not be calculated for everyone in equal measure, even in a single audience there are several readings of the same stereotype. Hence the sources of non-identity of the content and meaning of the journalistic text for the audience, which is based on the ambiguous interpretation of social facts by the journalist and his audience.

In sociology, social fact is any object (event or phenomenon) that affects people and their activities in one way or another, these are massive, socially typical phenomena and processes that are confirmed by repeated observation and repetition. To understand the essence of the facts, their scientific description and explanation is necessary. The obtained idea of ​​a social fact, its reflection through description, explanation and theoretical comprehension is called a sociological fact.

The journalist also deals with social facts and seeks to actually find stable, statistical phenomena. However, journalism is not limited to this. There are examples when correspondents found in life such social facts, which were unique in their kind and which only after publication in the press began to multiply. If in science the social fact turns into a sociological fact after the corresponding research, then in the media sphere - after comprehension and publication - becomes a journalistic fact. Using again the comparisons of U. Eco, one can say , that both the sociologist and the journalist at the beginning of their research are halfway between the idea of ​​the idea of ​​the fact and the knowledge of a single fact, but then their paths diverge. A sociologist's road leads through the search for a multitude of similar single traces to the universal notion, the journalist - from his own ignorance and the singularity of the track - to describing a single fact behind which, perhaps, the universal is hidden. The meaning of the journalist's creativity is in the permeation of the individual, without which there is no comprehension of the universal for him.

Social reality in a sense is "protected" from its reading by a journalist, its content is hidden from understanding and fixing. Only signs are open. Social reality shows up in the perception of the journalist through the system of signs that she gives him and which the media creative worker builds.

The politician is looking for success in the electoral environment, giving interviews, indicating his political preferences for the audience - in short, voice modulation, facial expressions ... The possibility to justify judgments is extremely rare. Only something can be argued, all the rest - just blossom flags-symbols. However, the interviewer is limited to his symbolic system, he is pre-configured - positively or negatively - on the signs given to the interviewee. That is why the cameraman is internally ready to shoot the material in the proper foreshortening, which may not coincide with the installation of the character. To shoot in a certain perspective is the same as giving someone a certain sign.

Press is an instrument of power, i.e. parties and economic lobby. Its main weapon, according to U. Eco, is a deliberate obscuring of the meaning of the statement, since the idea is not to supply the readers with information, but to send secret messages to other authoritative groups through their heads. The politician gives signs to other politicians. A journalist - to his fellows by profession and to those in power.

Remember the classic example, when Napoleon in 1815 tried to regain the lost, fled from the island of Elba and landed on the French coast. The capital newspapers of France pathetically wrote about the "Corsican monster", "the criminal", which by all means "will be judged and brought to Paris in an iron cage". But as Napoleon approached the capital, the tone of the newspaper reports about him became at first neutral, then soft and finally enthusiastic. Everything ended in a laconic message: "The Emperor arrived in Fontainebleau". So the French newspapers gave signs of their loyalty - then Louis XVIII, then Napoleon ...

For deep penetration a journalist-researcher is needed, which, in turn, needs time, conditions, knowledge. Such a journalist is called not only to correctly display and place signs in the media channels, but also to comprehend the content of social facts of reality. The audience perceives only the designation of the social fact, which became the subject of the journalist's attention (Figure 2.2). Therefore, the question of the semantic load of certain signs coming into its field of view is actual.

Some time ago, the popular on the Petersburg radio program "Hour before noon" celebrated its twentieth anniversary on air. Gathered those who in different years led this transfer from the microphone. People, events, impressions were remembered ... But did all of the sounding turned out to be understandable to the audience, were all the signs that the radio journalists gave to their listeners were deciphered by them? After all, the program has already two decades, for which the qualitative composition of the audience has changed, the socio-political reality in the country has radically changed, and what seems to be taken for granted, ceases to be. Here is one of those gathered in the studio called Lazar Magracheva, a bright journalist who worked on the radio during the siege of Leningrad. However, his name for a large number of radio listeners turned out to be a non-talking sign. What to do, time is inexorable, many things need to be explained anew. The sign must be filled with meaning.

Social reality: the algorithm of reflection in a journalistic text

Fig. 2.2. Social reality: the algorithm of reflection in journalistic text

When a sign in a journalistic text is not filled for the audience with an adequate content of a social fact with meaning, it is interpreted arbitrarily by it. But you can not consider the audience blind and deaf, as if she sees and hears only what is contained in the journalistic texts. Happening this, the audience would become easy and simple to manage. But this does not happen, and primarily because the audience consists of individuals, each of whom has a certain social experience, is to some extent included in interpersonal communication, and therefore signs coming from journalistic texts, perceives not as the journalist sees them, but in their own way. The audience is always heterogeneous, and it is born not one but several interpretations of the fact. And when signs from journalistic texts, correlated by the audience with its real experience, cease to coincide with it, a particular mass media loses the trust of those for whom it operates. Denial of trust, for example, to a newspaper can be "first call" its imminent catastrophe.

The semantic load of signs, their adequacy to content, the accountability of the audience's ability to correctly perceive them - all this contributes to the establishment of dialogue in society along the vertical and horizontal lines. Thus the information goes not only from above downwards, but also from below upwards. If the signs are arbitrarily substituted, if the information is distorted, then the basis of the public dialogue is destroyed, because understanding is always preceded by difficulties, obstacles in establishing consent, and the general field of the talk is cultivated in conversation.

"The street is writhing without language - it has nothing to scream and talk," - once said Vladimir Mayakovsky. Language to her, her people, i.e. the ability to speak, be heard and understood, the poet must give. He, according to the signs, only understandable to him, will find images - signs of what is going on with the street, what's in her soul ... And this will be true, expressed by special, poetic signs and symbols. Is not it a journalist? He practically alone in the media channels professionally owns the methods of prompt recognition of what is happening in the souls of people. And he is able to give a true sign to everyone he writes about, and everyone who looks at him, reads, listens. So the social fact becomes a fact journalistic only in the process of comprehension and its organic "implantation" in the system of personal social experience of the journalist. And this is the meaning of his work and his high mission.

As already mentioned, the social fact has a social significance, it is in the field of common interest of many individuals. So what is hidden in the social fact, which in itself is able to arouse the interest of many? And what, in this way, should the journalist pierce?

In journalism, social fact usually carries a social contradiction - "scissors between what is, and what, in the opinion of the observer, should be. Contradictions are inherent in all spheres of life. The meaning of establishing a contradiction is its potential withdrawal. For this, it is revealed. By detecting - the smaller part of the case, because eliminating the contradiction is in itself a problem. Thus, the social problem in journalism appears as a socially significant unresolved problem.

Creativity journalist, aimed at solving the problem, is moving along a certain trajectory, on which all the stages of the path are important (Figure 2.3).

The first procedure - fixing the signs of social fact - is relatively simple. Complexity is where you need to get into the essence of what is happening, where a contradiction is sought and the problem is established. Here, without the elements of exact knowledge is indispensable.

To the aid comes a sociological study of reality. It can be:

- or a survey conducted by sociologists, the results of which were placed at the disposal of the journalist in one way or another

- or information received by the journalist himself with the use of a sociological toolkit adapted to the daily work opportunities of a creative media worker.

Social reality in a journalistic text: reflection of a contradiction and posing a problem

Fig. 2.3. Social reality in the journalistic text: reflection of the contradiction and posing the problem

Understanding the nature of the social fact leads the journalist to the need to mentally compare his impressions of what is really happening and his ideas about what is to be done. As a rule, there is a discrepancy - a contradiction, the so-called "scissors between the real and the right.

So, in the St. Petersburg press 2005-2008. there appeared a large number of actual publications about the erection of new buildings in the historic part of the city with violation of the high-altitude regulations and the laws of the aesthetics of urban development. Materials on this subject contain the statement "scissors between the newly constructed or even planned high-rise construction and architectural ensemble of St. Petersburg. In their majority, journalists accurately identify the emerging social problem: how to save a beautiful city from barbarism. However, the authors of the speeches do not go further than posing the problem. Many people were not able to offer the ways to solve the social problem. This requires a higher level of journalistic skills, knowledge in a certain area of ​​knowledge is needed. In this case, awareness is complex, formed at the intersection of knowledge in the field of politics, economics, aesthetics, urbanistics, history, etc. Plus, much is solved by inspiration. Therefore, accurate knowledge should find an organic connection with the attitude of the journalist, his ideas about reality, with intuition.

Intuition (from Latelata intuituo - contemplation, close scrutiny) - an understanding of the subject, obtained through a direct comprehension of the essence of a thing, forms the basis of intuitive knowledge. It is something that comes to our consciousness almost from nowhere. But there is no insight from scratch.

In the humanitarian field, intuitive thinking, intuitive ways of knowing the environment prevail. And any scientific system in the field of exact knowledge inevitably contains two important elements: not only a strict logical proof, but also a judgment, or intuitive discretion. Of course, intuitive reasoning is necessary for revealing the truth, at the same time it is difficult to work out a judgment that does not suffer from subjectivity. Moreover, the author can express his judgment, argue it, and the reader will appreciate the weight of what was said on a personal intuitive level. Therefore, a reader's reaction is possible, which, for example, is unthinkable in mathematics: "Yes, you have proved, but I can not inwardly agree with this."

Intuition and creativity are an inseparable pair of the thinking process. Creativity - socially expedient and subjectively significant opening of a new in the sphere of production, management, science, technology, art, journalism, etc. Creativity is born when work related to the re-creation of existing knowledge, methods and forms of activity no longer satisfies social and personal needs. The resulting contradiction is overcome with the help of a productive, innovative solution. Only a contradiction can prompt us to look for nontrivial ways to solve emerging problems. The more acute the problem, the more it seems insoluble at first sight, the more often the mysterious something that connects the ideal and the purely rational is excited in us, the more boldly our conclusions and plans.

We understand: two people can solve the same problem in different ways. Here the word is for the intellect of man, his habit of acting in difficult situations, for the ability to predict the consequences of actions he and others make. In other words, the intuition leading to accomplishments rests on a person's social experience. In journalism, this rule is irrefutable. Nevertheless, the credibility, the authority of the intuitive discretion of the truth, the weight of intuitive judgment should be no less than the authority of logical reasoning, otherwise the journalistic solution of the problem that in one way or another rests on intuition is impossible.

The confidence in the intuitive method from both the media audience and the journalist himself can be ensured with the help of already proven methods. Among them - an appeal to recognized authorities. In this case, the intuitive judgment is constructed using analogies and relies on the already known audience. Admission of analogy should be perceived as an intuitive way of thinking, because the analogy, a certain similarity of the phenomenon under investigation to what has already been studied, is revealed by the journalist himself when he is looking for convincing arguments for his judgments. Identification of similarity is based on the synthesis of rational and irrational, i.e. implies a comparison of the images already known with the not yet known. And the unknown is the model of the forecasted state of the object under investigation that arises in the journalist's mind. Unfolding intuitive judgments in front of the audience, the journalist convinces her of the correctness of her conclusions.

Following the analogy, we put associative thinking with its wealth of opportunities to form and assimilate images of the social world for both the journalist and his audience. Association in the work of a journalist does not arise by itself, it is the fruit of his social experience. You need to know something that, if you see something different, remember something about it. Associations should not be knowingly concrete. Moreover, they can rely on other, already in themselves generalized images. In order that they arise, first, a state of inspiration is required, and secondly, at least a minimum of information backed up by the social experience of the writer. Inspiration is a state of higher mobilization of the intellect and emotions, when the mind and the senses are capable of generalizing the intuitive comprehension of truth, overcoming the logic of content, when an unquestionably reasonable thesis suddenly comes before a subsequent judgment based on the emotional attitude of events, facts, phenomena of social reality.

The connection to sociological journalism does not occur spontaneously. This, if you like, is a long process of professional development, which involves not so much mastering the skills of writing, although not without this, as a purposeful formation of a journalist's personality. More precisely, we are talking, first of all, about the developed ability of critical thinking, which already in itself implies that a journalist must necessarily own:

- the scientific principles of knowledge of social reality;

- developed ability to select socially significant facts as an object of journalistic speech;

- methods of analyzing facts and phenomena of reality.

Therefore, the professionalism of a journalist assumes a two-level perception of sociological knowledge:

a) mastering the general methodological principles of scientific research of reality as a whole, theoretical notions of the social structure of society, the place and role of journalism in it in particular

b) application of the results of sociological research with increased demands on the reliability of information sources, taking into account the entire set of data regardless of the journalist's position, refusal to "select" citing documents, a strict distinction between fact and opinion about the fact.

Therefore, the condition for the productive use of modern knowledge from the sphere of social science in the work of a journalist is the synthesis of creative and sociological mastery of social reality.

In improving the professional skills of a journalist, it is very important to develop his ability to work with the results of sociological research - to use them when writing his works, to take into account in building relationships with interlocutors and the audience as a whole. Together with developed sociological thinking, this is the most important component of the author's success in the field of sociological journalism. The use of research results is another facet of the practical application by journalists of knowledge in the field of sociology. The results of sociological research are not only a very important source of information, which opens up opportunities for deep penetration into reality, but also factual material for the preparation of texts that are analytical in nature.

In reality, the penetration of sociological data into the fabric of journalistic texts is carried out constantly, because in our time, no propaganda campaign, no discussion and decision-making by the authorities can do without the studies of sociologists. The arguments drawn from the results of relevant studies are used by politicians, political scientists, psychologists, and television talk show hosts.

However, there are problems raised by P. Bourdieu and P. Champagne. In their opinion, publishing the results of the polls, the field of journalism works not only for themselves, but also for policy advisers. After all, if some statistical distributions are presented on the front pages of newspapers, they are reproduced by television, so they are publicly recognized as politically important. This makes political leaders reckon with them as a reality.

We emphasize that sociological data as elements of the evidence base in journalistic works are valuable and reliable if they are:

• gleaned from a reliable source;

• Are correctly used in the corresponding context;

• quoted completely, without fundamentally meaningful defaults.

Also note that the sociological support for the arguments of journalistic statements can be carried out at different levels. Thus, the first of them, in its way closest to the perception of the audience, implies the use of individual sociological data, which even the inexperienced part of readers or viewers even invisibly.

For example, in a small analytical publication on the development of mortgage lending for housing construction, it is noted how many percent of citizens can afford an expensive bank loan. The indicator is clearly taken from some source, which nothing is reported in the newspaper - it's not so important to clarify this fact, the journalist can be taken for granted. It is much more important that the publication can induce those who are authorized to make a decision to reflect, and if they so desire, they will find all the necessary sociological information for the given case.

A more complex option when a journalist seeks to specify the attribution of his sociological information, source of information. This happens most often if a polemic publication deals with a complex of complex social problems, each of which is controversial in its own way. In this situation, the overall construction of the journalistic speech without rigorous argumentation of each situation becomes unsteady. Here the author shows a special interest in ensuring that his evidence base is reliable.

More closely you should take into account journalistic publications, which are fully based on sociological experiment, organized and conducted by creative media professionals. (A typical example is once the well-known newspaper heading "Journalist changes profession.") Here the source of sociological information is the journalist himself, more precisely, that social reality that he saw, analyzed and comprehended. This complex method of gathering information gives the journalist very reliable, intellectually grounded and evident materials for argumentation.

Many journalists used the sociological experiment in their work. The most striking results on this path were reached by A. Rubinov, observer of the Evening of Moscow and the "Literary Gazette". During the collection of invoices, his creative experiments in the field of activity are social, based on the nature of the experimental evaluation - field experiments, field visits, practical tasks by the nature of the tasks being solved.

Let's look at some examples from his practice.

The purpose of the operation is "I want to buy a conversation". was the search for an answer to the question - how much time does the person who wants to call spend to find the right coins (we recall that in the 1970s the conversation on the payphone was paid for by a 2-kopeck coin or two odnokopeechnymi). It turned out that much depends on random circumstances. After the publication of the essay, the managers of the telephone network were convinced that they were losing significant funds because of the poor work of payphones. As a consequence, older models begin to be replaced by more advanced ones.

Another operation "Girls and phone"; the main objective was to promptly and objectively study the work of the long-distance telephone exchange (in the absence of mobile and widely developed fixed automatic communication, this problem was among the topical ones.) So we will estimate the journalist's ability to take on acute issues. The experiment was attended by specialists, thereby increasing the level of its objectivity. The technology of the operation was simple: 10 orders are made, and in anticipation of their execution, the journalist and guests discuss the problems of "intercity". Especially for the experiment, blank forms of acts were made, in which everything that happened with each order was recorded, i.e. the experiment was documented. Plus, the journalist, of course, did not miss the opportunity to monitor the work of the staff of the long-distance telephone hub and its subscribers. The publication had a public resonance and led to certain positive changes in the work of long-distance communication.

Thus, it can be argued that a sociological experiment in journalism is not a tribute to fashion, but an urgent social necessity. However, it should be noted that journalistic experimentation should be placed reasonable limits - ethical and ethical in the first place. Such an idea could not have occurred to me after watching the story shown on television (NTV) in the early 2000s. Correspondent of the newspaper "Komsomolskaya Pravda" took up the investigation of the circumstances of how United States girls who have left abroad become sex slaves, who are sometimes resold to the remote areas of the Middle Eastern countries, are sent to their destination by medieval caravan routes. With this caravan, under the guise of one of the girls who got into trouble, the correspondent of the newspaper went, naturally not telling either the caravan-bashi or his subordinates about his membership in the journalistic department. There are all the signs of the application of two techniques - the included surveillance and the "journalist changes profession". On the question of which profession, to which social role the journalist was temporarily attached, was never asked. The spectators thought up. And not always respectfully with respect to the heroine of this television story.

Of course, in the listed theoretical positions and the examples of their implementation in journalistic practice, there are no minor details. And yet we dare to one thought operation, we will try to make a kind of "push" on those conclusions that could already be made, let us try to identify the central, most important link in the chain of requirements for professionalism in the field of sociological journalism. In our opinion, such a link should be a practical ability to analyze events, situations, facts that a journalist faces in the course of his official duties.

There is no sigh of relief when the collection of material is finished, everything is just beginning, - so you can understand the writer about the journalistic work of V. Agranovsky. A professional biography of one of the brightest representatives of sociological journalism and his words about those aspects of his profession that are turned toward science can be trusted. Especially when Agranovsky finds it unavoidable in journalistic business: "So, there is no respite for us ... When we return home, we do not put the material brought to the desk drawer or to the corner of the room in the hope that it will rest," calm down "and only then go to work , - no, without delay we stamp on to the very newspaper strip, having loaded a shapeless mass on our shoulders. All subsequent work is connected with the need to comprehend and process the material ... This means - to select and systematize facts, figures, own impressions ... In other words, one must think and think scientifically Otherwise, we run the risk of confusing the reader in a formless, impersonal vein of facts, thoughts, figures. In literature, M. Gorky said, the same work is going on as in science. Exemption from this work, I quite seriously regard as a release from journalism. "

The skills of analysis are not acquired immediately, not everyone who works in a newspaper or on television is able to see the phenomenon after a fact, in an event - a manifestation of the law. It has long been known the statement of the classic about the need to "see the actions of objective relations where, at first glance, it seems that only persons are acting", and that all phenomena in society are engendered by existing relations in them. However, it is known that this does not mean that it has been mastered.

Curiosity and necessity are the most important motivations underlying human cognition. We try to understand the world around us and for the sake of knowledge and self-defense, and for the sake of facilitating our own destiny. In any case, we get at least a potentially way to fix the existing order of things. In other words, the more we learn about the world around us, the more opportunities for managing it we get. " To have the key to understanding the world around us and changing it, we just need to know more about this world.

In this regard, it is important to remember that the methodology of sociological journalism is a unique field of sociological knowledge, closely associated with the creative processes of creating journalistic texts and disseminating information through the media.

The work of sociological journalism is based on an empirical analysis of reality, but the element of realization of the obtained knowledge presupposes the normativity of the research, which manifests itself as the definition of subjective goals, values ​​and value orientations, ethical norms, guided by people making decisions and participating in their adoption on the basis of the received new knowledge. In this case, a different understanding of normality - related to the analyst's research culture - is especially important. This is due, first of all, to modern trends in the integration of scientific knowledge. To them, for example, should be attributed a method of transferring knowledge about the areas studied to new subject areas. This is the scientific extrapolation method .

Extrapolation is the transfer of the mode of activity (practical or theoretical) from an already mastered object to the still unexplored continuum of objects, phenomena of reality and cognition. An objective basis for extrapolation is the universal interconnection of phenomena, expressed by the principle of the material unity of the world. The practical basis of the method is the need to comprehend a new one and the impossibility of finding a new one by some other means than those accumulated earlier. In studies, journalists have to deal not only with the extrapolation of any social processes and trends, when certain well-known pasts correctly translate certain conclusions into the present or, perhaps, into the future. Journalism actively applies the transfer of methods and techniques of research from one area of ​​knowledge to another. Scientific extrapolation does not have an orientation exclusively along one axis of coordinates - it is both vertical and horizontal, socially significant and narrowly specialized.

The case of extrapolation only confirms the special importance of the research culture of an analytical journalist who, in the field of sociological journalism, includes a certain number, using the terminology of T. Parsons, "cultural standards", among which:

• priority of scientific knowledge, and laws, categories, methods of study without extreme need are not overestimated;

• At the same time, the scientific methods of research used by the analyst need a certain adaptation, the need and measure of which establishes the specificity of the object under study;

• The general scientific historicism is especially significant for an analyst journalist. This is due to the urgent need to carefully avoid the "sin of anachronism", otherwise the grounds of the analyst's conclusions will not be credible .

So, sociological journalism includes a significant range of journalistic works published in the press, in which, based on scientific data, with the help of proven research methods, topical socially significant problems are revealed. In the register of such works, as a central link, the evidence of the highest achievement of professionalism and mastery, it is possible to introduce sociological journalism integrating all the most important features of sociological journalism as a whole and satisfying a certain desire to publicly present the results of their reflections by social scientists.

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