Tag Archives: Periodismo

Making news of value: exploiting dissonances in economic journalism

[Nuevo artículo de Tomás Undurraga en Journal of Cultural Economy]

Making news of value: exploiting dissonances in economic journalism

Tomás Undurraga


This article explores the multiple modes of valuation that pervade newsmaking in economic journalism. It does so by exploring the different ways in which journalists at Valor Econômico, the leading economic newspaper in Brazil, compete and cooperate in the production of news. Valor is a paradigmatic case for discussing valuation practices in newsmaking since its institutional promise is to produce news of value. How, if at all, do Valor journalists embrace the promise of producing news that generates value? Elaborating on Stark’s (2009. The sense of dissonance. Accounts of worth in economic life. Princeton University Press) idea of dissonance, it is contended that different orders of worth collide and cooperate within Valor newsroom. Moreover, journalists engage in a variety of valuation practices through which these orders of worth are shaped, defined, and refined, reflecting different understandings of economy and society, and different conceptions of what journalism is good for. I argue that Valor’s direction intentionally fosters a plural space of value dissonance in order to improve the quality of news reporting. I emphasise, however, that these dissonances are only productive against a larger background of consonance about what actually there is to disagree about. The article is based on a seven-month ethnography of Valor’s newsroom in São Paulo between 2013 and 2015. Continue reading

The Elective Affinity between Elite Journalists and Mainstream Economists in Brazil

[Nuevo artículo de Antonio Pedroso y Tomás Undurraga en Journalism Studies]

The Elective Affinity between Elite Journalists and Mainstream Economists in Brazil


This article explores the ties between elite economic journalists and mainstream economists in Brazil. It does so by investigating the influence of mainstream economists on journalists’ careers, and therewith, on Brazil’s public discussion. Using mixed methods, we study the main achievements that help to explain economic journalists’ position. We present a multiple correspondence analysis of 53 economic journalists, 30 who are in elite positions and 23 who are from the same cohort but are not in elite positions. Elaborating on 58 interviews, we explore the field’s professional dynamic, examining the sources that produce scoops, how journalists formed their economic perspectives and how economic sources link to the press. We find that there are two elites of economic journalists in Brazil with different career paths. Although careers among elite journalists might diverge, there is a manifest elective affinity between them and financial elites. Key economic journalists reached elite positions by sharing the doxa of mainstream economists. Journalists who worked in the Central Bank, economic ministers or private banks tended to rise in their professional careers. The familiarity with key financial agents of non-elite journalists, by contrast, is more limited. The article concludes by discussing the implications of this elective affinity for the public sphere in Brazil. Continue reading

Knowledge-production in journalism: Translation, mediation and authorship in Brazil

[Nuevo artículo de Tomás Undurrage en The Sociological Review]

“Knowledge-production in journalism: Translation, mediation and authorship in Brazil”

Tomás Undurraga


Based on a multi-site ethnography of two influential newspapers in Brazil, this article examines how Brazilian journalists mediate knowledge claims made by experts, policy makers and the lay public. It asks whether and how these journalists experience themselves as knowledge-makers. More specifically, it argues that Brazilian journalists index their production of knowledge in reference to four main characteristics: depth, authorship, influence, and expertise. Journalists tend to consider newsmaking a contribution to knowledge when: (1) they have the resources to do proper investigative reporting (depth); (2) they are able to help define the public agenda through their reporting and to express their opinion (authorship); (3) they have impact on the polity, the economy or other fields they cover (influence) and (4) their journalistic knowledge is recognized by readers and by specialists (expertise). In practice, however, there are multiple obstacles that make Brazilian journalists hesitant about their contribution to knowledge, including intensified working conditions, the lack of plurality within the mainstream presses, and their informal methods for dealing with knowledge claims from other fields. This research reveals that Brazilian journalists have different understandings of the nature of knowledge in journalism. These understandings cluster around two distinct poles: an expert notion of knowledge associated with disciplinary boundaries, and a distinct conception associated with journalists’ capacity to mediate between jurisdictions. When journalists’ production is assessed from the former point of view, the informality of their methods is seen as undermining their knowledge credentials. By contrast, when journalists’ contribution is assessed from the latter point of view, their ‘interactional expertise’ comes to the fore.

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Workshop Report: “Social Studies of the economy in Latin America-UCL”

On July 1st, 2016 the workshop ‘Social Studies of the Economy in Latin America’ took place at the Science and Technology Studies Department, University College London. The meeting convened a number of outstanding academics, including several contributors to this blog. Because the topics discussed are of central concern to this group, we are taking the opportunity to share some impressions.

The workshop aimed to discuss leading research that offers a close-up examination of economic life. In particular, it was oriented to ethnographic research that sheds light on the multiple ways in which the economy, culture and technology intersect, and in which the economy as an object is constituted and performed. Elaborating on previous research into the world of economic policy-making and expertise, the media’s role in public economic discussion, the nature of economic calculation and its material devices, and the variety of economic knowledges, the workshop focused on the social studies of the economy in Latin America. At least three common threads emerged from the discussion.


First, Mariana HerediaFederico Neiburg and Ana Gross’ papers examined disputes concerning consumer price indexes, the representations of inflation, and, more broadly, the way in which public numbers – their construction, treatment, publication, etc. – affects the economy. A second common thread between the papers was the attention paid to economic knowledge and economic practices. Continue reading

Valor Economico: the search for value in economic reporting in Brazil

Valor Economico is currently the leading economic journal in Brazil. Despite it’s being relatively new (it was created in 2000), it has quickly become the top venue for specialised economic discussion. Inspired by the Financial Times, Valor aims to produce pluralistic, well-informed, analytical reporting on the economy, and the social and political issues that surround business. As its title suggests, the journal claims to produce news that generates economic value. How to explain Valor’s rapid success? This post draws on three months of ethnographic observations in Valor Economico’s Sao Paulo newsroom and on thirty interviews with members of its staff. I’m grateful for the generous disposition of Valor’s editorial direction, and the many journalists who shared their working practices and perspectives with me. Without their openness, this research would not be possible. Continue reading

Economics in the public sphere: investigating economic journalism in Brazil

IMG_2767[A propósito de las diversas formas que toma la discusión sobre la economía en la esfera pública, aquí presento una breve introducción sobre el rol del periodismo en la discusión económica en Brasil, parte de la investigación que realizo en el contexto del proyecto ECONPUBLIC. La nota es en inglés, pero comentarios en español y portugués son muy bienvenidos]

Journalism has been a topic of intensive research in Brazil over the last decades. A diverse group of scholars – including journalists, historians and sociologists – have focused their investigations on the relationships between the media, political power and economic affairs. Broadly speaking, three lines of investigation are identifiable. Continue reading