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Journalism2017, Vol. 18(5) 609–625© The Author(s) 2015Reprints and permissions:sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.navDOI: 10.1177/1464884915620271journals.sagepub.com/home/jouWhy journalists covered Syriathe way they did: On therole of economic, socialand cultural capitalRobin VandevoordtUniversity of Antwerp, BelgiumAbstractWhile recent decades have seen the rise of a vast body of work on war reporting,there have been few sociological explanations of why journalists deal with challengingsituations in particular ways. This article contributes to bridging the gap betweenpractice-based studies of war reporting and general sociological studies of journalismas a profession, by providing a systematically sociological account of the factors thatinfluenced how the Syrian conflict was covered by Dutch and Flemish reporters workingfor a wide range of media. In doing so, this article draws on 13 in-depth interviews withthose reporters, which is informed by a content analysis of their work, and PierreBourdieu’s concepts of economic, social and cultural capital on both an institutional andan individual level. In addition, it is argued that Bourdieusian analyses may be developedfurther by distinguishing between endogenous and exogenous forms of cultural capital.KeywordsJournalistic practices, Middle East, Pierre Bourdieu, sociology of journalism, Syria, warjournalismIntroductionWhile recent decades have seen the rise of a vast body of work on war reporting, therehave only been few sociological explanations of why journalists deal with challengingsituations in particular ways. On one hand, journalism research on (Middle East) conflictsCorresponding author:Robin Vandevoordt, Department of Sociology, Research Centre on Inequality, Poverty, Social Exclusion andthe City, University of Antwerp, Sint-Jacobsmarkt 2, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium.Email: [email protected]620271JOU0010.1177/1464884915620271JournalismVandevoordtresearch-article2015Article
610Journalism 18(5)has resulted in countless analyses of media content (Allan and Zelizer, 2004), the chang-ing nature of state-media relations (Tumber and Webster, 2006; Wolfsfeld, 1997), thepolitical economy of foreign news (Herman and Chomsky, 1998) and the everyday prac-tices of individual war reporters (Markham, 2011; Seib, 2006; Tumber and Palmer, 2004;Tumber and Webster, 2006). Rooted in an entirely different tradition, a more sociologicaltype of enquiry has mapped the micro, mezzo and macro factors influencing journalisticpractices (Hess, 1996; Reese, 2001; Schudson, 2003) and the professional values and roleconceptions guiding their actions (Deuze, 2005; Weaver and Willnat, 2012).In spite of this twofold wealth of scholarship, however, fruitful combinations of thetwo are still comparably rare (Tumber and Webster, 2006). That is, while journalismresearch on Middle East conflicts mainly revolves around changing empirical practices,their more sociologically oriented colleagues have limited their attention to either moregeneral issues in the field of journalism as a whole (e.g. on objectivity and professionalautonomy) or to particular studies of all but war reporting (e.g. the changing impact ofsocial media, citizen journalism or newsroom ethnographies to name only a few). Morespecifically, the recent conflict in Syria has fed into a growing body of work on citizenjournalism and digital activism (Wall and El Zahed, 2015), the psychosocial conditionsof journalists covering Syria (Feinstein and Starr, 2015) and the news stories produced

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Sociology, Social Capital, 1984, Cultural capital, The Grave,

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