Publication details [#56064]

Bull, Peter. 2012. Watch dogs or guard dogs? Adversarial discourse in political journalism. In Fetzer, Anita and Lawrence N. Berlin, eds. Dialogue in Politics. (Dialogue Studies 18). John Benjamins. pp. 69–88.
Publication type
Article in book
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins


Research on interaction between political journalists and politicians is reviewed in three different contexts: broadcast interviews, press conferences, and news broadcasts. Substantive evidence strongly supports the view that journalists’ discursive techniques have become progressively more adversarial and confrontational over time, such that adversarialism has become the norm for contemporary political journalists. From their perspective, these techniques might be seen as an intrinsic part of defending democracy, the so-called “watchdog” theory of the press. But from an alternative perspective, journalists might be depicted as the Rottweilers of democracy, using discursive techniques that reduce dialogue in politics, creating instead a culture of confrontation and hostility.