Watchdogs in Chile and the United States: Comparing the Networks of Sources and Journalistic Role Performances

Lea Hellmueller, Claudia Mellado


This study examined journalistic role performances in two different media systems: in Chile and in the United States. The main focus of inquiry was to assess how journalistic roles are performed and connected to sourcing in print news stories. The results revealed that the two media systems exercise different professional performances of the watchdog role. The watchdog role in the United States was centrally connected to political and government sources in news stories (54.3% of news stories performed the watchdog model), whereas the watchdog role in Chile was performed significantly less often in national news stories (11.2%) and showed weaker ties to political sources than the U.S. sample. Meanwhile, Chilean journalists covered political sources by performing the interventionist, the infotainment, or the civic journalistic role. Furthermore, the average number of sources per news item in U.S. news was 5.20, whereas the average number in Chilean items was 2.05. The findings are discussed in relation to the two cultural and political contexts.


journalistic role performance, media systems, comparative research, watchdog journalism

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