Ethics in old and new journalism structures
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de Barros Filho, C., & Praça, S. (2009). Ethics in old and new journalism structures. Brazilian Journalism Research, 5(2), 5–21.


The academic debate on the relevance of institutional structures for conducting individual choices or the relative independence of these choices is old and fruitful. If for Marx men are condemned to repeat history, for other analysts the preferences that guide choices are formed exogenously with relation to the institutional structure. In the most radical version of this argument, previous choices are of no importance in determining forthcoming decisions. The new generations are not bound by the rights and wrongs of the previous generations. This essay does not fully adhere to either of these analytical lines. It is about the relation between old and new structures in the journalistic field and their possible effects on the ethical choices of journalistic agents. Following Hay (2002, p. 94-95), we define “structure” as the institutional context in which social, political and economical events occur and acquire meaning for the actors. Agency refers to individual conduct, the ability or capacity of an individual to consciously act to accomplish his intentions. It implies free will, choice and autonomy. It indicates that the agent could have made other choices. And also that the choice made is subject to the individual’s deliberate conscience. Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of habitus is quite useful for analyzing the relation between structure and agency. We will go back to it after analyzing, in the first section of this essay, the relation between new and old structures in the journalistic field. After a section on journalistic habitus, the essay will explain how the interaction between old and new structures affects ethics in journalism.
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