Fundamental Malpractice: Editorial Shaping of Arts Policy and Perception by a New Zealand Newspaper

By Judith Bernanke.

Published by The Arts Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The concentration of symbolic power within the journalistic field, along with its “increasingly powerful hold” on other fields, lends authority to journalists’ “vision of the social world” (Bourdieu, 2005). The newspaper editorial, as a news organization’s representative voice, is the locus of the institution’s ideologically constructed vision explicitly articulated as a “truth.” What long-lasting effects does an editorial’s discursive re-presentations have on other cultural fields? This article examines the discourse in the first of The Dominion Post’s editorials concerning New Zealand’s participation in the 2005 Venice Biennale to identify the “mainstream” values and antagonisms regarding arts policy and conceptual art framing its rhetoric. Empirical analysis comparing news stories covering the event published by the country’s four metropolitan newspapers demonstrates that the antagonistic editorial stance of The Dominion Post was reproduced in the discourse of its coverage, which took the form of a particularly aggressive campaigning stance, and suggests an editorial intervention in what is generally accepted as objective news reporting (Carpentier, 2005). Moreover, the symbolic violence of this discourse continues to resonate in the policies and procedures for the selection of artists for future Biennales, in the reporting of New Zealand’s participation in subsequent Venice Biennales, and in the coverage of other contemporary visual art news stories.

Keywords: Arts Journalism, Editorial, Bourdieu, Field Theory, Journalistic Field, Discourse Analysis, Venice Biennale

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 6, pp.83-98. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 877.700KB).

Dr Judith Bernanke

Lecturer, Department of Communication & Journalism, Massey University at Wellington, Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand

Judith Bernanke is a lecturer in the School of Communication, Journalism & Marketing at Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand. She completed a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of North Carolina and a Master of Arts in Fine Arts at Ohio University. Her research interests include field theory, discourse theory, visual rhetoric, arts journalism, art criticism and film music. Her PhD is a study of the inter-relationship of the journalism and visual arts fields in New Zealand, focusing in particular on the media coverage of New Zealand’s participation in the 2005 Venice Biennale.


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