Domesticating Foreign News in Romanian News Outlets: Global Issues in Local Frames


This paper investigates the domestication practices of three of the largest Romanian online news outlets when reporting on foreign news. We employ the concept of domestication to study the discoursive features of news items that render global news meaningful for local audiences. Our research is situated at the intersection of two large research traditions in journalism studies. One the one hand, previous studies of international news flows have pointed to the tendencies of homogenization and cultural hegemony defined by the large international news agencies which serve as the main source of foreign reporting, and these tendencies can be expected to be strengthened by the economic pressures brought about by the rise of online news consumption. On the other hand, studies in news values have emphasized that as structures used by journalists to make sense of the world, these are deeply rooted in local political, social, economic contexts, and that any taxonomy of news values should take into account the value-laden, indeed ideological nature of these. Our research investigates the ways in which generic news values like proximity or conflict are endowed with local relevance, and intersect with local sociopolitical languages or issue-specific frames. In doing so, apart from offering a descriptive analysis of the thematic sensitivities and symbolic geography of a national news culture, we also aim to contribute to the more general discussion of the relationship between news values and news frames. The analysis is structured around three main research questions: 1) as the language of journalism is highly formulaic, which are the recurrent discoursive patterns that are used to construct newsworthiness? 2) which are the main domestication practices by which local relevance is constructed? 3) which are the local political languages that intersect with and frame global issues? Methodologically, we employ corpus-assisted discourse analysis (for RQ1) and qualitative content analysis (RQ 2 and RQ3) on a subcorpus generated from a large (41,000n) corpus of foreign news spanning three years, by filtering these for articles that index their relevance for the country by its name and demonyms. Results indicate that the prevalence of topics in the proximity corpus (i.e. the subsample in which local relevance is indexed) follow global patterns: terrorist attacks, natural catastrophes, dramatic political developments etc., domesticated either by turning to official local voices, eg. the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or shifting the focus from the informational value towards the emotional focus and human interest by offering eye witness stories and constructing profiles of Romanian participants of events. Turning to diaspora voices as a journalistic practice also reflects the importance of the emigration of workforce in postcommunist Romania and domestic political discussions, and functions as one of the main discoursive anchors connecting local political languages and international affairs, eg. by offering a specific outlook on the globally relevant issue of migration. Further such anchors identified are geographical distance, tradition of economic relations and emotional proximity.