Hjältereportern – målet för reporterns resa
AbstractThe Heroic Reporter –
The Destination of the Travelling Reporter
News reporters have been frequent travellers during the latest hundred and fifty years. The aim of this article is to analyse how some wellknown American and Swedish reporters have constructed and represented their identity as travelling reporters in their own writings and how they have been represented by others. The reporters discussed are Henry Stanley, Nellie Bly, Mauritz Rubenson, Ida Bäckmann, Tora Garm, Knut Stubbendorff, and Barbro Alving. These reporters often represented themselves as heroic adventurers; much like explorers, knights and detectives. The reporter stories are seen as parts of the construction of a specific reporter-identity. The formation of the reporter identity can be seen as a dialectic process where representations of the reporter and fictional characters tend to influence and run into each other. One interesting example is the Swedish author and journalist Knut Stubbendorff’s novel Den Stubbendorff, Knut 1928a: Den flygande. Ett porträtt av en ung medelmåtta. Stockholm: Bonniers. Stubbendorff, Knut 1928b: Ishavsreportaget. Uppsala: Geber. Widmalm, Sven 2001: Det öppna laboratoriet. Uppsalafysiken och dess nätverk 1853–1910. Stockholm: Atlantis. Widmalm, Sven 2004: Trollkarlen från Uppsala: bilder av The Svedberg. I: Anders Ekström (red.): Den mediala vetenskapen Nora: Nya Doxa. Yrlid, Rolf 2001: Med Bang i inbördeskrigets Spanien. I: Marcos Cantera Carlomagno (red.): När Alving blev Bang. Lund: Historiska Media. flygande (1928), about a news reporter in Stockholm; and the autobiographical Ishavsreportaget (1928) about his own adventures as a reporter. The journalistic character in these books, fictional or real, are described and presented in much the same way, as a hero on an endless news hunt with only one direction – to get the big scoop.
My point here is that these narratives and representations must be analysed seriously, instead of being rejected as fake images that don’t tell us anything about the real life of working reporters. The stories of the heroic reporters show that the biggest news that these reporters deliver is often the news about their own adventures. Drawing from studies in public science the self-representations of the reporters can be seen as an important part of what makes media reports legitimate and trustworthy.