Spot News Versus Reportage: Newspaper Models, the Distribution of Newsroom Credibility, and Implications for Democratic Journalism in Mexico

Ella McPherson


This article describes social-organizational models that Mexican newspapers have evolved in response to competition from electronic media. The spot news model competes through simulation and cannibalization, and it is organized for efficiency. Its routine of speed and steep hierarchy keep newsroom credibility centralized among newspaper leaders, which makes it difficult for new sources to convince reporters to listen to them, and for reporters, in turn, to convince editors to publish new sources. The reportage model, in contrast, competes with electronic media through differentiation, emphasizing investigation and analysis over speed. Its newsroom is correspondingly organized according to a slower schedule and a flatter hierarchy. The reportage model therefore decentralizes newsroom credibility by allowing reporters the expertise and autonomy they need to put new sources into print. Though these two models represent simultaneous reactions to market competition, they have opposing effects on democratic journalism as measured by pluralism and accountability.

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