Signing or Not Signing Articles? Transformation of a Professional Practice in Japanese Journalism

Monday, July 14, 2014: 11:30 AM
Room: 414
Distributed Paper
Cesar CASTELLVI , Sociology, École Hautes Études Sciences Sociales, Paris, France
This presentation aims at reflecting on the more and more frequent use of the journalists’ signature in the articles of the Japanese press. Until the 1990’s, unlike American or French tradition for instance, signed articles in Japanese newspapers were the exception. Yet, since the 2000’s, this practice has been gradually spreading in some newsrooms.   

     The gradual use of the signature pertains to a context of progressive transformation of the profession. The Japanese journalism experiences a transition from an organizational pattern symbolised by affiliation of journalists to a newspaper company (with long career and authoritarian intern mobility, for instance), to a professional pattern symbolised with careers that are not limited to one company.

     By giving the journalists visibility beyond their organization, the practice of signing articles symbolizes the latter of these patterns. The main hypothesis of our research is that a sociological approach focusing on the signature can highlight tensions between the dominant organizational pattern and a professional pattern that tends to expand. This case differs from what is usually seen in most Western countries where organizational professionalism aims to compete with occupational professionalism (Evetts, 2003).

     Through the use of interactionist methodologies and concepts, this paper focuses on two issues. First, from the actor’s point of view, we will examine the consequences of the signature as a professional practice in the journalists’ daily work. We will seek to understand the changes induced by the use of the signature within the division of labour. Second, we will assess this practice and its role within careers individualization process and its repercussion on the external labour market of journalist.

     This work is a part of a PhD research. The key findings that will be presented were obtained through a qualitative inquiry and a participant observation in one of the biggest Japanese newspaper.