REPRESENTATIONS OF EVENTSSome material that is used with this unit can befound in the MS1 Pack: The Representation ofRegional Identity from page 22 - 49INTRODUCTION:An event can be anything that happens that is reported in the media. An eventcould refer to a celebrity wedding, a pop festival, a crime, a big sporting event,a natural disaster, something that happens in politics, either on a local, nationalor global scale. Big events in the UK over this year: the Royal Wedding, thetsunami in Japan, the Riots, uprisings in Syria, the 100 year anniversary of thesinking of the Titanic… In the next few months the Olympic Games is likely tobe a significant event.The difference between an event and an issue is that an event is likely to be aone-off occurrence or an occurrence of limited duration, whereas an issue ismore on-going and something that is not limited to one time or place.What would you say are the main events in the world being reported this week?WHAT FACTORS LEAD TO EVENTS BEING REPORTEDDIFFERENTLY?Imagine that you read two reportsabout the Mudbury Pop Festival, a majoroutdoor summer music festival in theUK. Both report the same event but givean entirely different impression! Read asummary of both reports:
The Mudbury Messenger: This reports that the festival was a huge success,attracting major acts like Green Night and Rohanna, not to mention old legendslike Bryce Sprinscene. The grounds were packed and the crowds had anexcellent time. They interview various attendees who declare that the festival’was out of this world… totally amazing… the best ever.’ There were no delaysand the facilities were much improved with plenty of loos and lots of moneybeing spent on food and souvenirs, boosting the local economy. A picture wasincluded of smiling fans with the caption: Summer Delight. The headline for thewhole piece was Mudbury Rocks!The Daily Snooze: this highlights the fact that, once again, a British festival isruined by the lousy weather and that campers were often ankle deep in mud.They also bemoan the fact that too much of the ‘talent’ on display was Americanand that food and sales goods were overpriced and the burgers, in particularwere greasy and unappetising. Those interviewed complained: ‘ we couldn’t see –there were so many in front of us and the viewing field sloped up! The soundproduction was quite poor at times and some of the acts sounded a bit half-hearted in their performances.’ A picture was included of a camper covered inmud, walking with an umbrella in the rain, looking miserable. The caption? Wish Iwasn’t here! The headline runs: Mudbury Rains!What sort of things do you think have led to each paper creating a differentrepresentation of the same event? Try and consider the process of creating thefront page, as well as other factors that may influence the final shape of themedia product.
Read Page 23 in your pack to see if you can add anything.What can we learn from this about how events are represented in the media –do we ever get a totally unbiased version or view?When considering an event, you need to: First of all, identify what event is being represented to us Then identify what impression we are being given of that event – what is being emphasised? What view are we being given? Then consider how this impression is created – what elements of the media language are conveying this impression to us? Finally, you need to think about what factors govern this view of the event – is it determined by the audience? By the institution creating the report?ANALYSING THE NEWSIt is possible that you could get a clip of the news or a newspaper to analysethat will later be used to focus you on how an event is represented. Your firsttask will be to view a news clipfrom the BBC News at Six to work out the keycodes and conventions that are used in news programming:You need to think about: the type of people who appear in this type ofprogramme (how they dress, speak, physical appearance), the way the camera isused, settings, the type of stories used, the structure of the programme, theuse of music, other sound elements, the use of onscreen graphics, use of colour,type of footage used…….
Now you will look at several other news clips – you will need to identify how theyvary the conventions and why: South-East Today (regional news) Why vary the formula? CBBCNewsround (children’s news) Why vary the formula?E! News (News linked to an entertainment channel) Why vary the formula?
Some extra reading:NEWS VALUESIn 1965, media researchers Galtung & Ruge analysed international newsstories to find out what factors they had in common, and what factorsplaced them at the top of the news agenda worldwide. They came up withthe following list of news values. - a kind of scoring system - a story whichscores highly on each value is certain to come at the start of a TV newsbulletin, or make the front page of a newspaper. Journalists and editorsalso draw heavily on their experience - of what an audience expects, ofwhat stories have had a major impact on public consciousness in the past,of what is important - and each news organisation will have their ownsystem of setting a news agenda. News Value Description Bad news - involving death, tragedy, bankruptcy, violence, damage, natural disasters, political upheaval Negativity or simply extreme weather conditions - is always rated above positive stories (royal weddings, celebrations etc) Audiences supposedly relate more to stories that are close to them geographically, or involve people from Closeness to their country, or those that are reported that way (e.g. home 12 Hong Kongers aboard Australia Crash Plane). News (Proximity) gatekeepers must consider carefully how meaningful a story will be to their particular audience Newspapers are very competitive about breaking news - about revealing stories as they happen. 24 hour news channels such as CNN and BBC World also rate this Recency value very highly. However, as we have seen with the events of September 11, stories may take a while to develop, and become coherent, so recency is not always the best value to rate. This is almost opposite to recency, in that stories that have been in the public eye for some time already are Currency deemed valuable. Therefore a story - for instance about the abduction and murder of a child - may run for weeks and weeks, even if nothing new really happens. Events that are likely to have a continuing impact (a war, a two week sports tournament) have a high value Continuity when the story breaks, as they will develop into an on- going narrative which will get audiences to tune in tomorrow.
Dog Bites Man is not a story. Man Bites Dog is. Any story which covers a unique or unusual event (two- Uniqueness headed elephant born to Birmingham woman) has news values Obvious, but true. Stories which are easy to explain (Cat stuck up tree) are preferred over stories which Simplicity are not (anything to do with the Balkan or Palestinian conflicts) Stories that centre around a particular person, because they can be presented from a human interest angle, are beloved of newspapers, particularly if they involve a well-known person. Some say this news value has Personality become distorted, and that news organisations over- rate personality stories, particularly those involving celebrities (Kate Middleton Goes Shopping). What do you think? Does the event match the expectations of a news organisation and its audience? Or, has what was expected to happen (violence at a demonstration, Expectedness horrific civilian casualties in a terrorist attack) actually (Predictability) happened? If a news story conforms to the preconceived ideas of those covering it, then it has expectedness as an important news value Any story which covers an important, powerful nation (or organisation) has greater news values than a story Elite Nations which covers a less important nation. The same goes Or People for people. Barack and Michelle Obama are newsworthy whatever they do. Also a major factor when setting the news agenda. If a newspaper or news programme is the first and only news organisation breaking a story, then they will rate Exclusivity that very highly. The UK Sunday papers are very fond of exclusives, and will often break a story of national or international importance that no one else has. does matter when it comes to news stories. The bigger impact a story has, the more people it affects, the more Size money/resources it involves, the higher its value. This is also known as thresholdWhat do news values explain to us?Have a look at the BBC News homepage and see which values are in evidence.
CASE STUDY 1: The RoyalWeddingThe wedding of Prince William and KateMiddleton took place on 29th April 2011and was an event of much significancein the UK and world media.TEXT A: The Official BBC coverage of the weddingWe will watch the opening ten minutes from the official DVD, covering thebuild-up and departure of the Prince for Westminster Abbey. We will thenwatch the arrival of Kate at the Abbey and her walk up the aisle.You will need to record some evidence of how the BBC represents the weddingto its viewers, using the boxes below:
A dignified and solemn occasion of An intimate family wedding to which national importance we are given privileged accessA unifying event that makes everyone An event that celebrates the Best of happy British
Why do you think the BBC has chosen to portray the wedding in this way?What techniques have they used to try and make this an authoritative view/ theofficial view of the wedding?Read the Royal Wedding: BBC under attack from anti-monarchists article – whatdoes this suggest about how the event was represented to us?TEXT B: Newspaper front pages 30th April 2011(Daily Express/ DailyMirror):What image do these front pages create of the royal wedding? How do theywant us to see it?What elements create this image?
Why do you think these papers have wanted to create this impression?TEXT C: Lancashire TelegraphLook at the pages from our local paper which cover the royal wedding.What image of the event is emphasised in this paper?Offer some evidence of what creates this image for us (try and find examplesfrom both the visuals and the words):Why do you think the LET has wanted to promote this view of the RoyalWedding?
TEXT D: Magazine front covers (Grazia magazine and OK magazine)Look at these front covers in your packs – pages 48 adn 49.Complete the table below:How is the event being Evidence? Why?represented?GraziaOKOVERVIEW: ROYAL WEDDINGIs any one of these representations of the event truer than the others? Are any ofthem totally false?What can we learn from this study about how an event is presented to us?
CASE STUDY 2: The RiotsThe UK Riots occurred between the 6 and10 August 2011 – they started in London,triggered by the police shooting of MarkDuggan. Rioting, looting and arson werewidespread in some London boroughs andspread to other UK towns, includingBristol, Birmingham and Manchester.The Riots were widely reported in UK andforeign media.Front Covers of National and Regional Newspapers (Daily Mirror/Manchester Evening News/ Daily Telegraph/ The Sun)Look at the front covers of these newspapers – copies can be found in yourpacks on pages 33 – 38.TASK ONE: WHAT DO WE CALL THIS EVENT?What are the most common words used to describe what happened and whatconnotations do these create about the event?How would the image created have been different had they used a term like‘civil disturbance’, ‘protest’ , ‘unrest’ or ‘uprisings’, terms the media have used todescribe similar events in Libya, Egypt and Syria?
TASK TWO: WHO ARE THE RIOTERS?From what you can see, who is being represented here as the casue of all thetrouble? Try and define this group in terms of age, gender, class, ethnicity andany other impressions and offer evidence for your verdict.Now read the extract from a Guardian article written in December 2011 calledWho Were the Rioters?, after the initial furore had died down.How accurate was the picture created by these papers?
Look at the more recent story from 9th April 2012 about a recent jailed rioterhttp://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4240758/Millionaires-girl-guilty-brof-driving-riot-yobs.htmlHow does this suggest original representations of the riots may have beenmisleading?Why do you think these papers may have wanted to project this image to theirreaders?TASK THREE: HOW DO WE SEE THE POLICE?Look over the front covers (excluding the Milton Keynes Citizen) in your packagain and comment on how they represent the police to us:
TASK FOUR:THE BLAME GAME – WHY DID THEY DO IT?The papers also gave different representations of who or what was to blame.Look at the extracts belwo and see if you can identify who or what is beignrepresented as being at fault here:Max Hastings, Daily Mail – conservative, middle-class, traditional values papersYears of liberal(i.e. left-wing) dogma have spawned a generation of amoral,uneducated, welfare dependent, brutalised youngsters. They are illiterate andinnumerate, beyond maybe some dexterity with computer games and BlackBerries.They are essentially wild beasts. I use that phrase advisedly, because it seemsappropriate to young people bereft of the discipline that might make thememployable; of the conscience that distinguishes between right and wrong.They respond only to instinctive animal impulses — to eat and drink, have sex, seizeor destroy the accessible property of others.Their behaviour on the streets resembled that of the polar bear which attacked aNorwegian tourist camp last week. They were doing what came naturally and, unlikethe bear, no one even shot them for it.But it will not do for a moment to claim the rioters’ behaviour reflects deprivedcircumstances or police persecution.Of course it is true that few have jobs, learn anything useful at school, live in decenthomes, eat meals at regular hours or feel loyalty to anything beyond their local gang.This is not, however, because they are victims of mistreatment or neglect.It is because it is fantastically hard to help such people, young or old, withoutimposing a measure of compulsion which modern society finds unacceptable. Thesekids are what they are because nobody makes them be anything different or better.Katharine Birbalsingh, British teacher and blogger, contributor to The DailyTelegraph, conservative paper"Completely predictable, Ive been saying for months that our young people havebeen completely let down by the system, particularly the education system, but alsoby some of their families. ... If families are not teaching our young people thedifference between right and wrong the schools need to do it. We have had a lack ofauthority ... we have been teaching them all about their rights and nothing abouttheir responsibilities.""We have to recognise the problems in our schools. All of these children are in ourschools. We keep saying there is no behaviour problem, but do we really think thatchildren that are going around with baseball bats and setting stores alight are
behaving themselves? We need to establish authority. 17% of our 15-year-olds arefunctionally illiterate. We need to teach them things. Were not teaching themproperly." Tottenham resident and Conservative party member David Allan:"Theroads to these riots have been paved by the good intentions of the British leftand the liberal establishment. Im afraid in local and national government ineducation throughout the public sector and goaded on by the media led by theGuardian and the BBC our minority ethnic communities have been completely failedin the last 30 years"Peter Osborne, Telegraph (conservative paper)I cannot accept that this is the case. Indeed, I believe that the criminality in ourstreets cannot be dissociated from the moral disintegration in the highest ranks ofmodern British society. The last two decades have seen a terrifying decline instandards among the British governing elite. It has become acceptable for ourpoliticians to lie and to cheat. An almost universal culture of selfishness and greedhas grown up. But the rioters have this defence: they are just following the exampleset by senior and respected figures in society. Let’s bear in mind that many of theyouths in our inner cities have never been trained in decent values. All they have everknown is barbarism. Our politicians and bankers, in sharp contrast, tend to have beento good schools and universities and to have been given every opportunity in life.Something has gone horribly wrong in Britain. If we are ever to confront theproblems which have been exposed in the past week, it is essential to bear in mindthat they do not only exist in inner-city housing estates.The culture of greed and impunity we are witnessing on our TV screens stretchesright up into corporate boardrooms and the Cabinet. It embraces the police andlarge parts of our media. It is not just its damaged youth, but Britain itself that needsa moral reformation.Ken Livingstone (Red Ken), ex-mayor of London on BBC NewsnightKen Livingstone, suggested that austerity measures were responsible: "If youremaking massive cuts, theres always the potential for this sort of revolt against that."Zoe Williams, The Guardian (Liberal paper)"These are shopping riots, characterised by their consumer choices," insisted ZoeWilliams of the Guardian. She added: "This is what happens when people dont have
anything, when they have their noses constantly rubbed in stuff they cant afford, andthey have no reason ever to believe that they will be able to afford it."Paul Routledge, Daily Mirror (Labour paper)Paul Routledge of the Daily Mirror blamed "the pernicious culture of hatred aroundrap music, which glorifies violence and loathing of authority (especially the police butincluding parents), exalts trashy materialism and raves about drugs".What do you feel about the reasons given for the cause of the riots? Do youfeel that any of the papers/ journalists writing in these papers are giving afairer/ more accurate picture than any others? Do you feel we can trust therepresentation they give about why the riots happened?What factors do you think govern the way the causes of the riots are beingrepresented in each paper?
Since most people tend to stick to one paper or news programme, does thisbiased approach to news reporting pose any problems do you think?TASK FIVE: WHO GETS A SAY HERE?Look at whose voices are heard in TASK 4 above – whose voice seemsconspicuously absent from commentary on the event?Look at the following extracts from Newsnight and the BBC – what do you noticeabout who gets a say and who doesn’t?Does this pose a problem?What does it suggest about how events are represented to us?
TASK SIX: AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW OF THE UK RIOTSWhat does the term UK Riots imply about the event?To what extent do you think this term is justified?Look at the front page from the Milton Keynes Citizen on page 35 of your pack –how does it offer an alternative view of the UK Riots? Offer some evidence toshow how this is built up.Note that at the time there were rumours of rioting in Milton Keynes:Rumours are spreading like wildfire on social networking site Twitter that riots are breaking outin Milton Keynes.Some people are suggesting that the shops in Fishermead have been attacked, while othersmention that shops in Bletchley are being looted.All these rumours are completely unfounded. Thames Valley Police has reported noincidents in the Milton Keynes area.
Why do you think this local paper chose to do things differently?OVERVIEW:What have you learnt about the representation of events from your study ofthe reporting of the UK Riots?