News And The Public Sphere
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News And The Public Sphere

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Slides taken from MAC201 Media Studies 1 session on the 'public sphere'

Slides taken from MAC201 Media Studies 1 session on the 'public sphere'

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News And The Public Sphere News And The Public Sphere Presentation Transcript

  • News and the Public Sphere MAC201
    • Jurgen Habermas and the public sphere
    • Testing the political public sphere
    • Levels of coverage
    • Newspaper discourse
  • News & political responsibility
    • To disseminate accurate information and political intelligence that is of general interest
    • To contribute to an informed political culture
    View slide
  • 1 - Jurgen Habermas
    • Internationally renowned philosopher and social scientist
    • The public sphere
    • The realm of our social life from which “public opinion” emerges
    View slide
  • Public sphere
    • Civic space in which private citizens could meet to discuss matters of political importance
    • Work towards the formation of a collective opinion for the benefit of the citizenry
  • Conditions for the public sphere
    • Free from the influences of:
      • the market place
      • the state
      • the family
    • ‘ bourgeois public sphere’
    • London coffee houses (mid-17th century)
    • Frequented by aristocrats and merchants
    • Forums for debate
    • Emergence of ‘public’ culture
    • Public sphere = public opinion
    • ‘ the critical state of a democracy can be measured by taking the pulse of the life of its political public sphere’
    • (Habermas, 2004)
    • Now, we have a re-feudalised public sphere (i.e. left with the mass media and its power relations)
    • No independence - corrupted by:
      • Ownership and control of the media industry
      • Advertising revenues
      • Public relations and ‘spin culture’
  • The Media as Public Sphere
    • Nicholas Garnham (1992) “The media and the public sphere”, in C. Calhoun, Habermas and the Public Sphere
    • The media should inform democratic decisions by helping ‘citizens learn about the world, debate their responses to it and reach informed decisions about what course of action to adopt’
      • (Dahlgren, 1991: 1)
  • 2 - Testing the political public sphere
    • See Higgins, 2006 (on WebCT)
    • Debate surrounding the 1999 election to the newly formed devolved Scottish parliament.
    • Scottish press coverage vs UK coverage
  • All broadsheet newspapers or ‘quality’ titles (Bromley: 1998) from 3 day period: 5th-7th of May Scottish papers UK papers The Herald The Guardian The Scotsman The Independent The Press and Journal The Times
  • 3 - Levels of coverage
    • Scottish papers = 84,160 words
    • UK papers = 19,246 words
    • ‘ The Scottish papers therefore assume the greater role in the political public sphere around the election simply by offering substantially more coverage than the UK papers’
    • (Higgins, 2006: 29-30)
  • Distribution of words
  • 4 - Newspaper discourse
    • 4 types:
    • News
    • Feature coverage
    • Opinion
    • Editorial
    Informative Evaluative
  • Types of News Coverage
    • Evaluative:
    • There is a greater emphasis on evaluation and comment when an issue falls within the remit of a public sphere
      • i.e. on matters in which the public should be informed, the press serves as a means by which important issues are highlighted.
  • 2 types of coverage
    • Informative types
    • News to be factual
    • Feature articles go ‘beyond the reporting of facts to explain and/or entertain’ without being explicit in offering a judgement or opinion ( Hicks, 1998: 118).
    • Evaluative types
    • Offer overtly subjective appraisal of current events or issues
    • Heavy use of the personal pronouns ‘I’ and ‘we’ (Fowler, 1991: 64; Allan, 1999: 92
  • Word count by discourse type
  • The Scottish papers….
    • demonstrate a significantly greater quantity of election coverage
    • ‘ present a pattern consistent with voter deliberation by providing the bulk of election material when it is able to inform democratic action’ (Higgins, 2006: 39)
    • attempt to engage via an emphasis on feature and opinion coverage whereby ‘the greater stress of informative material [comes] at a time where it can be used to substantiate voting decisions’ (ibid).
    • place their coverage in the most prominent parts of the paper.
  • Conclusion
    • Democratic society needs some kind of space in which the important issues of the day can be discussed so that the public can make informed decisions.
    • Cultural proximity impacts upon how information is presented to the public
    • Higgins suggests that the ‘public sphere’ that Habermas identifies is manifest in the civil institution of the press.
  • News as social and political agent?
    • Should we think of the business of news as reporting facts or seeking out and bringing us material we should know about?
    • Is it a role of the news to make us more socially and politically aware, or to distract and entertain us?
    • Can it do both? (Think of the role of news values.)
  • Points for discussion
    • In your judgement, is the media as a public sphere driven by consideration of:
      • Political and democratic responsibility on the part of the media institutions and journalists?
      • The need to appeal to a given audience?
  • Bibliography
    • Allan, S. (1999/2004) News culture. Buckingham: Open University Press.
    • Bell, A. (1991) The language of news media. Oxford: Blackwell.
    • Bromley, M. (1998) ‘The ‘tabloiding’ of Britain: ‘Quality’ newspapers in the 1990s’, in M. Bromley and H. Stephenson (eds) Sex, lies and democracy: the press and the public, pp. 25-38. London: Longman.
    • Dahlgren, P. (1991) ‘Introduction’, in P. Dahlgren and C. Sparks (eds) Communication and citizenship: journalism and the public sphere, pp. 1-24. London: Routledge.
    • Deacon, D., M. Pickering, P. Golding and G. Murdock (1999) Researching communications. London: Arnold.
    • Fowler, R. (1991) Language in the news: discourse and ideology in the press. London: Routledge.
    • Franklin, B. (1997) Newszak and news media. London: Arnold.
    • Franklin, B. (2004) Packaging politics, 2 nd edition. London: Arnold.
    • Galtung, J. and M. Ruge (1973) ‘Structuring and selecting news’, in S. Cohen and J. Young (eds) The manufacture of news: deviance, social problems and the media, pp. 62-72. London: Constable.
    • Garnham, N. (1992) ‘The media and the public sphere’, in C. Calhoun (ed) Habermas and the public sphere, pp. 359-376. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    • Habermas, J. (1989) The structural transformation of the public sphere. Cambridge: Polity Press.
    • Habermas, J. (2004) ‘Public space and political public sphere – the biographical roots of two motifs in my thought’, Commemorative Lecture, Kyoto, November 11.
    • Hartley, J. (1996) Popular reality: journalism, modernity, popular culture. London: Arnold.
    • Hicks, W. (1998) English for journalists, 2 nd edition. London: Routledge.
    • Higgins, M. (2006) ‘Substantiating a political public sphere in the Scottish press: a comparative analysis’, in Journalism , Vol. 7, No. 1, pp 25-44.
    • Livingstone, S. and P. Lunt (1994) Talk on television: audience participation and public debate. London: Routledge.
    • Negrine, R. (1998) Parliament and the media: a study of Britain, Germany and France. London: Pinter.