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Observatorio (OBS*)

versão On-line ISSN 1646-5954

OBS* vol.8 no.4 Lisboa dez. 2014

 

Trends and transformations within cultural journalism: a case study of newsmagazine Visão.

 

Marisa Torres da Silva*, Dora Santos Silva**

*Postdoctoral researcher in Communication Sciences/Journalism (CIMJ/FCSH/NOVA) and guest lecturer at New University of Lisbon, Portugal (FCSH/NOVA), Avenida de Berna, 26-C / 1069-061 Lisboa. (marisatorresilva@hotmail.com)

**PhD Fellow in Digital Media at Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas - Universidade Nova de Lisboa / University of Texas in Austin (UT Austin | Portugal CoLab) and invited lecturer at Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas - Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Avenida de Berna, 26-C / 1069-061 Lisboa. CIMJ researcher. (dora.santos@netcabo.pt)

 

ABSTRACT

In the last ten years, the configuration of cultural journalism, regarding editorial and business models, has undergone profound changes. Nowadays, it cannot be separable from the context of cultural and creative industries, which requires a redefinition and expansion of the field, reinforcing its complexity, broadness and heterogeneity (Rivera, 2003). The emergence of more consumer-driven formats within journalism broadly speaking (Fürsich, 2012) is thus transforming cultural journalism into a continuum between culture, lifestyle and consumption (Kristensen, 2010), challenging existing definitions of cultural journalism as a distinct journalistic object (Kristensen & From, 2012).

In this article, we intended to verify whether the identified trends are present in the Portuguese press media environment, using a newsmagazine (Visão) and its supplement (Visão Sete) as a case study. Combining quantitative (content analysis) and qualitative methodological approaches (interviews and discourse analysis), we stated that while Visão Sete is the clear example of the contemporary approach to culture as a service and a consumer good related to lifestyle, the culture section of the newsmagazine conveys a classic (and somewhat reductive) approach to culture, primarily related to artistic manifestations – which lead us to infer that nowadays newspapers and magazines are still looking for its position regarding cultural journalism.

Keywords: Cultural journalism, lifestyle journalism, newsmagazine, case study

 

Introduction: the legacy of culture

Cultural journalism is a complex and hybrid field, which has been evolving alongside with the transformation of definition and scope of culture.

Speaking of culture is to acknowledge, first, its complexity, heterogeneity and cross-disciplinarity, due to, for example, the common use of the word in the most variable contexts (in politics, technology and even business), disciplines and fields (anthropology, philosophy, semiotics, politics, communication, among others), including heritage and ways of life (such as the hipsters’ culture or the Indian culture). It is no accident that in 1952 Kroeber & Kluckhohn made the first compilation of definitions of culture and achieved 164, to be exact. It is thus central to this study the acknowledgement of culture as a fluid concept that evolved through centuries. Even today the concept of culture is continuously being transformed by media, peoples’ uses and technological environment, making it become collective, virtual, convergent and participatory.

In the context of aesthetic tradition, which is the genesis of culture and the dominant common vision even today, culture began to be understood as an artistic expression and a way to achieve intellectual perfection. This approach has its roots in Ancient Greece and only in the XIX century would appear the first anthropological definition of culture, by Edward B. Tylor: “Culture or Civilization, taken in its wide ethnographic sense, is that complex whole, which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society” (Tylor, 1920: 1).

Seeing culture as an expression of social life was a major breakthrough, but the importance of everyday culture would only be acknowledged in the second half of XX century by the Cultural Studies. At the same time, the focus on commercial and industrial aspects of culture gave the first steps with Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno (1947), and then with cultural and creative industries, that put culture and creativity at the centre of incentives policy and started to see cultural products as any other industrial good. Culture itself became industrial.

The term cultural industries refers to, according to the generally accepted definition by Unesco (2006), “industries which combine the creation, production and commercialization of creative contents which are intangible and cultural in nature” and include “printing, publishing and multimedia, audiovisual, phonographic and cinematographic productions as well as crafts and design”.

Creative industries, in this sense, combine "the convergence concept and practice of creative arts (individual talent) with the cultural industries (mass scale), in the context of new media technologies within the knowledge economy and designated for use by citizens and interactive consumers” (Hartley, 2007: 5). The most striking example can be found in the entertainment media.

In brief, we can recover Raymond Williams´ three active categories of use of culture (Williams, 1983: 90) and revisiting them with a contemporary approach: firstly, culture describes a general process of intellectual, spiritual and aesthetic development (such as an elite culture); secondly, culture as a process indicates a particular way of life, whether of a people, a period, a group or humanity in general, where we can include lifestyle; thirdly, it describes the works and practices of intellectual and particularly artistic activity, where we can include traditionally peripheral areas, such as design, fashion and gastronomy.

 

Definitions and scope of cultural journalism

Historically speaking, cultural journalism has emerged as a field associated with the so-called “high culture” and bourgeois aesthetics with narrow repertoires, aimed to reach a minority of connoisseurs (Basso, 2006: 7), in the context of the aesthetic view of culture. That can explain why there is still an apparent similarity between the terms “arts” and “culture”, enhanced by media, and a reductive approach to culture, also in media, as the field of artistic manifestations (Santos Silva, 2012).

Cultural journalism has evolved alongside with “culture”, adjusting to their two basic scopes: the "enlightened" (which was restricted to the field of fine arts) and the anthropological created by E. B. Tylor and later developed by Richard Williams and other scholars from Cultural Studies. Later, with the advent of mass culture, it started to reflect entertainment and leisure areas. From the mid-1980, and in the late years of 1990, with the advent of cultural and creative industries, cultural journalism also suffered deep changes, alongside with the concept of culture.

Particularly in the last twenty years, within a digital environment, the configuration of cultural journalism, regarding editorial and business models, has undergone profound changes. Recent debates on cultural journalism state a crisis in the more “classical” tradition, proclaiming a decline in the amount and significance of serious reviewing as well as in the critical and analytical aspect of cultural and artistic issues, primarily reflecting an increased orientation towards entertainment and commercialism, focused on service, agenda, and celebrities (Jaakkola, 2012: 482; Golin & Cardoso, 2009: 72; Gadini, 2006: 240). However, according to some scholars, “cultural journalism is not in decline. Rather it has quite naturally expanded and developed the focus, interpretation and presentation of culture in line with a changing culture and consumer industry and an increasingly competitive and professionalized media landscape” (Kristensen, 2010: 69).

The emergence of more consumer-driven formats within journalism broadly speaking (Fürsich, 2012: 12) as well as the blurring boundaries between cultural, lifestyle and consumer journalism is therefore challenging existing definitions of cultural journalism as a distinct journalistic object (Kristensen & From, 2012: 26). This kind of orientation privileges topics on how to spend free time, encasing this sector within the space for leisure and entertainment (Golin & Cardoso, 2009), which reinforces the performativity of cultural journalism as a promoter of lifestyles, suggesting what readers should read, hear and see (Hanusch, 2012). In practice, this performative aura, once legitimized by legitimacy, aesthetics, analytical and argumentative criteria, is being replaced by everyday unskilled criteria, sometimes dangerously closed to promotion, resulting in hybrid journalistic genres, such as informal reviews and guides that support these new kind of suggestions (Santos Silva, 2014).

This defragmentation of critique is, according to Faro, caused primarily by a crisis of the author in the digital environment, where everyone can be a “critic” and can contribute for the shape of taste (Faro, 2012).

Thus, regarding the definition itself, many scholars have been pointing out indeed that cultural journalism is not restricted to the fine arts and literature, including, besides these, lifestyles, value systems, traditions, beliefs and ways of being (Pastoriza, 2006; Basso, 2008; Alzamora, 2009). Most of them seem to be based in the definition created by Rivera which sees cultural journalism “as a very complex area of heterogeneous media, genres and products that deal with creative, critic, media or reproductive purposes fine arts, belles-lettres, currents of thought, social sciences and humanities, the so-called popular culture and many other aspects that have to do with the production, circulation and consumption of symbolic goods” (2003: 19)1. In this context, Basso says that the field of cultural journalism “has been adjusted over time to a more integrated view thematising ways of life, value systems, traditions and beliefs, besides fine arts and lyrics” (2008: 69)2.

On the other hand, J. S. Faro focuses on the double dimension of cultural journalism today: related to an entertainment and market logic, in one hand, and to its traditional space of intellectual production: “it is an area of journalistic practices that both reiterate the signs, values ??and procedures of mass culture as discourses that reveal counter-hegemonic tensions, characteristics of particular historical conjunctures” (2006: 149)3.

Perhaps the most broadly definition, that suits contemporary studies and debates around culture and cultural journalism, has been given by Nete Kristensen. The author places the field "in a continuum between art, popular culture, lifestyle and consumption" (2010: 69), as it expanded and developed its focus, interpretation and presentation in response to a changing culture and consumer industry.

Following this conceptualization, Kristensen and other authors (Jaakkola, 2012; From, 2009) suggest changing the term "cultural journalism" for "journalism on culture" in order to accept not only a broader sense of culture with the intersection of its new different faces but also areas peripheral to the traditional culture (such as design, fashion, architecture, advertising, gastronomy and other lifestyle issues). Cultural objects are presented, more than ever, as consumer goods and, on the other hand, consumer goods are sometimes transformed into cultural goods linked to a specific lifestyle.

 

Aim, methodology and scope of the study

In the light of the theoretical frameworks previously mentioned, in this article we intend to verify whether the identified trends are present in the Portuguese press media environment, using a newsmagazine (Visão) and its supplement (Visão Sete) as a case study, also relying on an undergoing national research project on cultural journalism in Portugal in the first decade of the 21st century, funded by the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation (FCT).

Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to gain a thorough understanding of the definition and tendencies of contemporary cultural journalism using newsmagazine Visão as a paradigmatic example: content analysis, in-depth interviews and discourse/linguistic analysis.

We focused our content analysis in a three-month period (October-December 2013 – 13 issues4) of Visão, particularly in the following items, among other aspects: the alignment of the “Culture” section; the number of times a cultural theme appeared on the front cover; the main cultural themes that appeared in the culture section (and its approach); the layout of supplement Visão Sete and its alignment; the headlines of the main cover of Visão Sete and of the covers of the three sections of the supplement.

Additionally, and throughout the previously referred national research project, we also relied in the in-depth and semi-structured interviews with actors that might give us some valuable information about the way that cultural journalism is interpreted and perceived by journalists themselves. Therefore, the relevance of the interviews done during the year of 2013 with the culture editor and with the deputy editor of Visão can be explained by our interest in understanding the way by which the interviewees associate certain meanings to a given process (Berg, 2004: 83), particularly if their experience is relevant to the research questions and aims (Lindlof & Taylor, 2002: 173).

The research focus and the analysis of the newsmagazine Visão in the selected time period also aimed to pay a specific attention to language in use, assuming that every aspect of textual content is the result of a choice – “the choice to use one way of describing a person, an action or a process over another; the choice to use one way of constructing a sentence over an alternative; the choice to include a particular fact or opinion or argument over another” (Richardson, 2007: 38). We thus decided to combine the content analysis of the select aspects and news pieces of Visão and Visão Sete with a more qualitative approach conveyed by the contributions of critical discourse analysis as a method that focuses on language as a discursive practice and on its choices on communicative acts (Ponte, 2004: 134). Particularly, the semantic macro-structures of the discourses, expressed by titles and leads in what respects journalistic/informative news pieces, play an essential role in communication, due to the fact that they summarize the text (what does it talk about), and at the same time they give it a global meaning (Correia, 2011: 45), functioning as a kind of sense and relevance markers. In order to grasp the ways by which cultural journalism positions itself in linguistic terms, we also chose to analyze the titles of the news pieces of the referred editions of supplement Visão Sete5.

Visão and Visão Sete: the newsmagazine and the supplement

The first issue of Visão magazine hit newsstands on 25th March 1993 and emerged as a project with the ambition to overcome the lack of newsmagazines in Portugal, as well as to follow the information models of North-American Time and German Der Spiegel (Cardoso, 2008), also assuming other international references such as Newsweek (USA), Nouvel Observateur (France) or Veja (Brazil). Although it was not the first modern Portuguese newsmagazine (the first version of Sábado was launched in 1988), it is a fact that Visão is the title with greater longevity (Sábado ended in 1993, returning in 2004) and remains a market leader, according to APCT (Portuguese Association for the Control of Circulation). Currently there are two newsmagazines published in Portugal: Visão and Sábado (Focus magazine ended in 2012, after 13 years of activity).

The culture section of Visão has an average of 12 pages. It opens with a major piece (mainly features, reporting or an interview, between four and five pages); then, it has an average of two other main pieces (one or two pages). The other pages include short news (happenings, premieres, releases, etc., with no more than a paragraph), a “person” section (dedicated mainly to a celebrity, in a half page) and sections dedicated to a cultural theme, that vary from issue to issue.

The newsmagazine supplement, called Visão Sete, has an average of 32 pages and constitutes the perfect example of the evolution of culture towards lifestyle, consumption and cultural and creative industries. When it appeared, in 1999, it was presented as the second magazine, dedicated to shows, culture and leisure, but in 2000, it suffered a layout and editorial reformulation and became presented as a guide. In 2004, it suffered another major reformulation, appearing as “shows and urban guide”, and, in the end of 2011, it approached an additional concept, being presented as the “best guide to eat, go out and see”. In March 2014, the supplement changed its graphic appearance, although the main sections and content were kept unaltered.

Visão Sete practices a modern and urban view of culture, related to design, lifestyle, fashion, gourmet, and music festivals. It focuses on original cultural and creative products, as well as Portuguese creators and guides to go out or know something. It has three main sections – “Eat”, “Go out” and “See”. The performative and consumption approach – the culture of taste – is evident.

The section “Eat” has seven subsections (where all the articles fill one or more): To buy | Design | Restaurants | Trends | Wines | Recipes| Gourmet. The section “Go Out” has eight subsections: To buy | Design | Night| Children | Outdoor | Gadgets | Music| Fashion. The section “See” has seven subsections: Movies| Cinemas | Music| Theater| Dance | Exhibitions | TV.

The front cover relates always to one of the three main sections. It has a full image, mainly a conceptual one and a performative or creative title (similar to a headline of an ad). In the interior, every three sections start again with a front cover and a major headline. The news pieces are often accompanied by diverse photos and illustrations, which goes along with one of characteristics of lifestyle and cultural journalism: “the visual dimension, which provides not only documentation (if at all), but also (or rather) visual and cultural experiences” (Kristensen and From, 2012: 34).

 

Culture as seen by Visão and Visão Sete: a content analysis

The content analysis, as well as the interviews made to the editors of Visão, allowed us to reach four main trends related to the cover of culture by Visão and Visão Sete.

A classic view of culture

Newsmagazine Visão has still a classic approach to culture, relating it primarily to artistic manifestations. Other views of culture, as a process or as a reflection of values, beliefs and ways of life, are ignored. This editorial strategy is confirmed by the culture editor, for whom culture is “preferably the arts, although it is not closed”, thus preferring “not to fill the section” with other kind of subjects, such as the ones related to cultural policies.

In the time period selected for our analysis, whenever there was a story with a cultural background, but with a “way of life”, historical or sociological approach, it didn’t appear in the culture section, but, instead, in the “society” section; additionally, a cultural policy news piece tended to appear in Portugal/national or economic sections, which confirms the confinement of the culture section to an aesthetic treatment. There are several examples:

- In the edition 1081 (November), a feature about a Portuguese TV series that focused on the boom of Portuguese music bands in the 80s appears in the “society” section, although it is a cultural news piece (see Figure 1);

 

 

- Also in the edition 1081, an interview with a Portuguese restaurant chef, known by his creative cuisine, also appears in the “society” section;

- In the edition 1080 (November), the front cover is about “Lisbon in the route of stolen art by the Nazis” – and the correspondent news piece appears in “Portugal” section (see Figure 2);

 

 

- In the edition 1075 (October), the front cover is about Oporto city and how its cultural and artistic life is attracting tourists – and it also appears in the “Society” section (see Figure 3).

 

 

The deputy editor justifies this saying that a news piece on a cultural theme covered as a social phenomenon belongs naturally to the Society section. However, she admits the “difficulty on talking about this”. “What is culture?”, she questions, concluding that “boundaries are made by who makes the sections”. This difficulty in seeing culture as a fluid, cross-disciplinary (not confined to artistic manifestations) concept is, perhaps, one of the reasons why journalists and media have this editorial logic. This also can explain why culture doesn´t make front covers, besides cultural themes not being “potential covers”, according to culture editor, or the focus on themes that achieve the higher number of readers, according to deputy editor.

A clear relation to the agenda and cultural industries

In the scope of arts covered by Visão, the products by excellence from cultural industries – such as cinema and music – have the main cover, confirming several other studies made nationally and internationally (Santos Silva, 2012; Szántó, 2004; Domínguez, 2003).

Surprisingly, the plastic arts (exhibitions, creators/artists) occupy 4 of the 12 main themes that open the culture section. However, this area represents only 0,05% of the total of news pieces in this section in the period studied (9 out of a total of 125 items). In terms of major pieces, subjects such as music (31% - 21 out of 67), literature (22% - 15 out of 67) and cinema (19% - 13 out of 67) represent 72% of the themes covered and most of all are related to agenda purposes. Other areas like design, photography, dance, urban art and TV, they represent each one 0,01% of the themes covered in respect to major pieces.

If we include the short news (one paragraph), then music (40% - 50 out of 125), cinema (18% - 23 out of 125) and literature (23% - 29 out of 125) are again the three main areas covered and account for 81% of all themes covered (102 out of 125), which also confirm the reductive perspective of culture.

These editorial findings have an intimate relation to the agenda phenomenon, scheduled by cultural industries marketing machines (releases, premieres, happenings, etc.) and may be partially responsible for the root towards entertainment and the minimum covering of other artistic manifestations, whose press offices are much less aggressive or even absent.

“Culture of taste”: the perspective of Visão Sete

Visão Sete is the clear example of the contemporary approach to culture as a service and a consumer good related to lifestyle, confirming the place of cultural journalism “in a continuum between art, popular culture, lifestyle and consumption" (Kristensen, 2010: 69). It also includes a more creative view, welcoming emergent culture areas, such as design, gastronomy, architecture, local fashion and entrepreneurial cultural ideas. Although most of themes covered in Visão Sete are culture related, both Visão deputy and culture editors don´t see it as a cultural supplement, but rather an “urban guide”, an “agenda” or a “city guide”. However, both realize that is frequent the discussion about cultural pieces entering in Visão culture section or in Visão Sete.

The focus on guides, in a culture of taste concept, is very clear, confirming the editorial position of Visão Sete. In a total of 13 front covers, 11 are included in the “Go out” section. However, the themes aren´t all related to “Go out” in a literal sense, but, instead, with buying things. In these sequence, of these 11 covers, all are related with the concept of guide: to see exhibitions, festivals, circus or museums (3 out of 11), to buy creative design products, like cork or wool (2 out of 11), to explore someone´s city, a creative neighbourhood or hotels (5 out of 11), to know a way of life, like skating or volunteering (2 out of 11). Even when the front cover is included in the “Eat” Section, there is a guide approach to what to eat in a new market, or in the “See” section, the best TV series to see. This goes along with the concept of “coolhunting” and the performative dimension of contemporary cultural journalism, orientating audiences in their lifestyle choices (Franco, 2013), providing them with information and advice about goods and services they can use in their daily lives (Hanusch, 2012).

The focus on creativity and innovation in the cultural goods is also very clear. If we look at all front covers of all sections in the 13 editions of the supplement, we find primarily Portuguese creativity (specially in fashion design, accessory design and gourmet); innovative or retro products or services that are now contemporary (Portuguese brands that were refreshed); Portuguese gastronomy; innovative shows, cinema festivals and other initiatives that are driven by the concept of creativity (see examples on Figures 4 and 5).

 

 

 

All of these themes that make the front covers of the three sections (52, in total) have, combined with other approaches or alone, a consumerist point of view; 85% (44 out of 52) have a guide perspective; 69% (36 out of 52) of them have a creative / design approach and 58% have a direct lifestyle related to heritage component (30 out of 52), even a seductive or persuasive one, where the frontier between journalism and advertising is very blurred.

The replacement of critique by guides and informal reviewing

Due to the fact that the news pieces are attached to the agenda of cultural industries, which confirms the assumption of Golin & Cardoso (2009) that cultural journalism is fostered, in a great measure, by the dynamics of the cultural industries (releases and distribution), the critique is absent of the pages of Visão and Visão Sete, being replaced by informal reviews, guides or commentaries with a defined consumerist and lifestyle approach, as we have already seen in the previous point.

If in the beginning of the century Visão Sete was made by an external staff, specialized in one or more artistic areas and with a clear reputation (academic, for example), today they were replaced by Visão own staff, journalists, which can also explain this absence. Besides this, culture editor even says that, today, specialized critics are not a good investment and critique, as a concept, “is not very important today”.

 

The headlines and titles of Visão Sete: a discursive analysis

The language used by journalists to address the readers can tell us something about the identities and the relationship of both the news organization and the audience (Richardson, 2007: 95-96). Consequently, stylistic choices suggest different forms of relationships between the journalist and the audience, “in terms of friendliness or distance, familiarity or formality, a relationship of equals or of the speaker taking a more pedagogical role” (ibidem: 96). What kind of relationship, then, does the supplement Visão Sete assumes towards its audience? And how may the language used in headlines and titles tell us something not only about the contemporary trends of cultural journalism, but also about the ways by which it positions itself in terms of approach?

If we take a close examination of the headlines/titles of the three sections of the supplement – Go out, Eat, See – the guide approach is easily visible. Visão Sete aims to provide the reader with guidance on matters of consumption and choices of softer aspects of life, which at the same time can show how much the boundaries between cultural journalism, lifestyle journalism, consumer and service journalism are nowadays blurred (Kristensen & From, 2012: 26-28).

The current hybrid nature of the supplement is clearly voiced by the culture editor of the newsmagazine Visão; however, while refusing the status of a cultural supplement to Visão Sete, he also admits that it is a possible locus for cultural themes and contents: “Visão Sete has always been a hybrid – it started as an agenda, and nowadays is a little more than an agenda, and a little less than an urban guide (…) I would never call it a culture supplement (…). Of course sometimes it gives us [the culture section] more space. For instance, when we have a good interview to open the culture section and, in the same week, there is a major architecture event. That would be something that would fit in the supplement: five exhibitions you cannot miss”.

Since media culture and consumer culture are becoming more and more inseparable categories, nowadays the media “occupy a dominating position as providers of cultural products and beliefs” (Jansson apud Kristensen, 2010: 72). Many of the titles used in the news pieces of the supplement reinforce indeed the guide approach, as well as the newsmagazine authoritative position, orientating readers on whether it is worth spending time and money with certain products of the cultural agenda (Golin & Cardoso, 2009). The use of imperative verbs (also known as “bossy verbs”, telling people what to do, giving instructions or commands) imply a “modality form”, which, according to the field of critical discourse analysis, refers “to judgements, comment and attitude in text and talk, and specifically the degree to which a speaker or writer is committed to the claim he or she is making” (Richardson, 2007: 59). Modality is usually indicated via the use of modal verbs – may, could, should, will and must – or through adverbs (certainly), and may be expressed in two principal forms: truth modality (example: this war will be stopped if…) and obligation modality, which refers to future events and to the degree to which the writer believes a certain course of action ought or should or must be taken and appear more authoritative than hedged claims (ibidem: 60). Modal choices thus constitute a major exponent of the interpersonal function of language (Simpson apud Richardson, 2007: 62).

The obligation modality and the use of imperative verbs are in fact present in some titles of news pieces or covers of the supplement, as shown by the following examples: “Follow the sounds”6; “DocLisboa: 9 movies you cannot miss”7; “Follow the guide of volunteering and know some of the institutions that need our free time the most”8; “Share this pie”9.

In order to persuade their audience, journalism in general also uses rhetorical strategies, such as rhetorical tropes, which are employed as a way to denote-connote something apart from their original meaning and draw attention to specific significations (Richardson, 2007: 65). Among the titles used in Visão Sete during the selected time period, we found a significant amount of rhetorical tropes, particularly aimed not only to persuade the audience, but also to evoke cultural references easily recognized by readers in order to ensure the need to obtain more information – for instance, using the title of a famous movie or book to present an event or product (“Hung by a thread”10; “On the road”11; “To be or not to be”12; “United we stand”13). The proximity and familiarity towards the reader can also be conveyed by the use of expressive punctuation in titles, such as exclamation marks or suspension points, and also by the use of questions, thus directly addressing the readers.

Also relevant to the analysis of news texts are the predicational strategies or the choice of words used to represent more directly the values and characteristics of social actors, “linguistically assigning qualities to persons, animals, objects, events, actions or social phenomena” (Reisigl & Wodak apud Richardson, 2007: 52). Accordingly, we found a relevant amount of titles with an explicit appeal to the senses (taste, sight, touch) and an extensive use of adjectives and adverbs, qualifying an object, product, event, action or person, as illustrated by the following examples: “Sweet retro”14, “In good company”15, “Divine Dianne”16, “A special taste”17.

We can say that the use of the mentioned discursive strategies may add interesting points to the discussion about the myriad ways by which the media in general play nowadays a key role in the guidance to cultural products and experiences, as a representation of ways of life and a symbolic marker of taste and lifestyle (Kristensen & From, 2012: 34).

 

Main conclusions

Nowadays, newspapers and magazines are still looking for its position in culture. On one hand, they seem to deny other perspectives of culture than the artistic one – indeed, whenever there are other approaches to culture, the news pieces appear in other sections, like “society” or “Portugal” or “world”. On the other hand, cinema, literature and music still monopolize the coverage.

The major question is: if the culture sections of the media still focus on artistic manifestations and other approaches of culture (sociological, anthropological, etc.) are absent or delegated to other sections, how can we explain to general public what culture really is and its multiple dimensions?

However, like Visão, other newsmagazines and newspapers have supplements to explore other views of culture, where design, creativity and ways of life are predominant. Unfortunately, although these subjects and areas have an unequivocal cultural interest, the approach is restricted to a consumerist and lifestyle perspective. Cultural goods are transformed in consumer goods, on one hand, but, on the other, it seems that the consumer goods that have more importance are the cultural ones.

Besides this, in the eyes of the journalists working in culture section or with responsibilities regarding it, it appears that they have a clear preference on treating this limited view of culture – perhaps to distinguish them from others? – related traditionally to an intellectual development and cultivation of the spirit. But it is also clear that they too, although dealing with culture everyday, have difficulties responding to the basilar question: “What is culture?” and, in that sense, “What should be cultural journalism?”

 

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Date of submission: August 26, 2014

Date of acceptance: November 7, 2014

 

NOTES

1 Our translation.

2 Our translation.

3 Our translation.

4 The last issue of 2013 is a special issue and it doesn´t have the same editorial alignment, so we only accounted for the supplement.

5 We only accounted for the titles of the news pieces considered to be informative in its nature and close to conventional journalistic genres – therefore excluding, for relevance and feasibility reasons, titles of reviews, agenda or guides.

6 In Portuguese, “Siga os sons” (news piece about a music festival in Lisbon, Visão Sete, October 3-9 edition)

7 In Portuguese, “Doc Lisboa: 9 filmes a não perder” (news piece about a documentary film festival in Lisbon, Visão Sete, October 24-30 edition)

8 In Portuguese, “Siga o roteiro do voluntariado e conheça algumas das instituições que mais precisam do nosso tempo livre” (Visão Sete, November 28-December 4 edition)

9 In Portuguese, “Partilhe esta tarte” (Visão Sete, November 28-December 4 edition)

10 In Portuguese, “Por um fio” (news piece about a marionette festival, Visão Sete, October 3-9 edition)

11 In Portuguese, “Pela estrada fora” (news piece about “Festival Vagabundo”, a music festival, Visão Sete, October 10-16 edition)

12 In Portuguese, “Ser ou não ser” (news piece about a new hamburguer restaurant in Lisbon, Visão Sete, October 17-23 edition)

13 In Portuguese, “A união faz a força” (news piece about an online shop, Visão Sete, November 21-27 edition)

14 In Portuguese, “Doce retro” (news piece about a new product of the Portuguese brand Regina, Visão Sete, October 10-16 edition)

15 In Portuguese, “Em boa companhia” (news piece about a new restaurant in Lisbon, Visão Sete, October 24-30 edition)

16 In Portuguese, “Divina Dianne” (news piece antecipating the concert of Dianne Reeves in Lisbon, Visão Sete, October 24-30 edition)

17 In Portuguese, “Um gostinho especial” (news piece about a new flavor in an ice cream shop in Lisbon, Visão Sete, December 21-January 1 edition)

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