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Hoxha, Abit; Hanitzsch, Thomas ORCID: 0000-0002-7104-6300 (September 2018): How conflict news comes into being. Reconstructing “reality” through telling stories. In: Media, War & Conflict, Vol. 11, No. 1: pp. 46-64
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Abstract

Based on interviews with 215 conflict journalists and 315 reconstructed articles, this article explores the way conflict coverage comes into being. The study used retrospective reconstruction to investigate the genesis of news through the journalists’ recollections of decisions and considerations made during the process of news production. The analysis specifically focused on story ideation, story narration and story presentation in the context of coverage about the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the civil war in Syria, as well as about Kosovo, Macedonia, Burundi and the DRC. The study found that, when invited to speak about their jobs, many conflict journalists cling to a professional narrative suggesting that they are reporting ‘just the facts’ and that it is the ‘reality’ that tells the story. The story reconstructions demonstrate, however, that journalists deliver an intellectual reconstruction of ‘reality’ by actualizing the factual evidence that speaks best to the central narrative of a story and that best ‘exemplifies’ what they think has ‘really’ happened. Furthermore, journalists’ habitus of routinely digesting social media and leading news outlets explains why conflict coverage is often so self-referential.