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'Journalists are the Confessors of the Public' Says One Foucaultian

23 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2009  

Chris Dent

Murdoch University - School of Law

Date Written: 2008


The article combines Foucault’s ideas of discursive formations, practices and subjects with qualitative data gained from interviews with working Australian journalists, editors and broadcast producers. This combination of the theoretical and the empirical allows for the exploration of journalism as a discursive formation rather than as simply a set of practices internalised by journalists. Through the examination of the words of the respondents, Foucault’s notions of internal, external and neither fully internal nor external discursive controls are given a practical foundation and provide the basis for the assessment of the central Truth of the journalistic discursive formation. This Truth, the set of practices that without which would render journalism a different discursive formation, is found to be the facilitation of public confession. That is, journalists, if they are to be journalists, must, in the course of their daily lives, allow for, and publish, the 'confessions' of their sources.

Keywords: Foucault, journalism, discursive formation, discursive practices, discursive Truth, public speech, public confession

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K19

Suggested Citation

Dent, Chris, 'Journalists are the Confessors of the Public' Says One Foucaultian (2008). Journalism, Volume 9, Issue 2, 2008; University of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 417. Available at SSRN:

Chris Dent (Contact Author)

Murdoch University - School of Law ( email )

United States

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