Wk 5 – Issues in the News


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Wk 5 – Issues in the News

  1. 1. Dr. Carolina Matos Lecturer in Media and Communications Department of Sociology City University London WK 5 – “Issues in News” - News and Society
  2. 2. Required readings  Required  Carroll, Susan J. and Schreiber, Ronnee (1997) “Media Coverage of Women in the 103rd Congress” in Norris, Pippa (eds.) Women, Media and Politics, Oxford University Press, 131-149  McNair, Brian (1998) “Why journalism matters” in News and Journalism in the UK, London: Routledge  Additional:  Allan, S., Adam, B. and Carter, C. (eds.) (2000) Environmental Risks and the Media, Routledge, Introduction, (plus chps 1-- 6, 13)‐  Matos, C. (2008) Journalism and political democracy in Brazil, Maryland: Lexington Books  McCombs, M., and Shaw, D. L. (1972) “The agenda setting function of mass media” in Public Opinion Quarterly, 36, pp 176-187.  Thussu, D. K. (2007) News as Entertainment: The Rise of Global Infotainment. London: Sage, chapter 5
  3. 3. Key Issues  Classic liberal media theory  Agenda-setting function of the media  Why journalism matters: the case of the British media  Ofcom and UK media consumption habits  Issues in the news:  A) The case of women and the media in the US  B) War and “infotainment”  C) Brazil 2013 protests and London 2011 riots  Conclusions  Seminar questions and activities  Group presentations in week 7  Readings for week 8
  4. 4. Classic media liberal theory (in Scammell, 2000) What are some of the duties demanded of the media?: 1. Act as a watchdog and scrutinise governments 2. To provide accurate, correct and intelligent information of daily events 3. Reflect the spectrum of public opinion and political competition Do the media perform these tasks adequately? If not, why not? There is a consensus that the media fall short for their democratic duties. The liberal classic paradigm nonetheless is accepted by all, including the more critical academics from the political economy tradition and/or Marxist perspectives, like Herman and Chomksy (1988) •Western emphasis on press freedom is taken as a norm, when some emerging democracies are building still a national democratic culture
  5. 5. Democratic functions of the media (Blumler and Gurevitch in Lichtenberg, 2000)  1. Surveillance of the political world  2. Set the agenda for debate through the selection of the most important stories of the day  3. Provide platforms for advocacy of the competing groups and interests in society  4. Provide a means of dialogue and diversity in opinions  5. Scrutinise the activities of public and governmental officials (i.e. perform the ‘watchdog role’)  6. Provide incentives for wider democratic participation  7. Protection of the freedom of speech  8. Treatment of the audience as rational and interested citizens
  6. 6. Origins of agenda-setting The theory can be traced back to Lippmann’s first chapter in Public Opinion, The World Outside and the Pictures In Our Heads. Without using the term “agenda-setting”, it has been stated that Lippmann was writing about what today we would call “agenda-setting” Influenced by Lippmann, Bernard Cohen in 1963 observed that the press “may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about.” Cohen expressed the idea that later would lead to the formalization of the theory by McCombs and Shaw
  7. 7. Agenda-setting function of the mass media (McCombs and Shaw, 1972) • Weaver, McCombs and Shaw conducted the 1st empirical study of the agenda-setting process • Chapel Hill Study was done with 100 undecided voters during the 1968 presidential elections in the US • The assumption was that audiences learn what issues are important from the news media and adopt similar views • McCombs and Shaw found a high degree of agreement between the rank order of the 4 or 5 issues on the media agenda and those on the public agenda Media influences the public: • Conclusion was that the media tell the public “what to talk about” regarding various issues
  8. 8. What is “agenda” and what is an “issue”?  McCombs and Shaw thus argued that, in choosing and displaying news, editors and newsroom staff play an important part in shaping political reality  Shaw (1977) distinguished between events and issues: 1) events, defined as discrete happenings that are limited to space and time and 2) issues, defined as involving cumulative news coverage of a series of related events that fit together in a broad category (in Rogers and Dearing, 1988 in Graber, 2007). Agenda-setting can thus be defined as the media’s ability to transfer salience to issues through their news agenda. The assumptions that underline agenda-setting research is that the press do not reflect reality but filter and shape it, and the media’s concentration on a set of issues leads the public to perceive those issues as important…..
  9. 9. Why journalism matters: the British and global media (in McNair, 1998, 2009)  UK market – facts and figures:  In spite of the rise of the Internet and of the new technologies, the global print industry continues to be healthy and vigorous  “According to a 2007 report by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), there are more than 10.000 newspaper titles in existence, employing some two million people and generating US$ 180 billion of revenue.”  There are more national newspapers available in the UK than there were 20 years ago. At local and regional level, a large “free sheet” sector exists alongside the “paid dailies”.  Britain has also seen an explosion of online news and journalism- based websites. Most mainstream newspapers, like The Guardian and the New York Times, have adapted to the online environment, and co- exist rather than compete
  10. 10. Leading online journalism sites, May 2008 (in McNair, 2009) Website Unique monthly users BBC 50.358.061 Mail Online 18.712.533 Telegraph.co.uk 18.497.944 Guardian Unlimited 18.323.824 Times Online 15.877.693 The Sun 14.948.080 FT.com 7.113.132 The Independent 6.533.792
  11. 11. The British media (in McNair, 1998, 2009)  Does journalism matter? In what way?:  Many established organisations in the UK have gone global, a fact with significant implications for how they produce and market their content.  I.e. The Guardian , which had a print circulation of 310.000 users, had more than 25 million regular users of its guardian.co.uk online  Since the late 1990s, online journalism has emerged as a major news platform in the UK.  Elite (9): (The Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Observer, The Independent, The Independent on Sunday)  Mid-market (4): (Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Express, Sunday Express)  Red top (9): (The Sun, News of the World, The Mirror/Record, The Sunday Mirror, The People, Daily Star, Sunday Star, Daily Sport, Sunday Sport).
  12. 12. Ownership of British national newspapers (in McNair, 2009) Company Daily Sunday (2002) Daily (2008) Sunday News International 32 39 34 39.6 Mirror Group 21 27 17 18.5 Associated Newspapers 19 17 20 22 Northern and Shell 12 6 13 9 Hollinger 8 6 8 8.5 Guardian Media Group 3 3 3 3 Financial Times 4 ---- 1.3 ----
  13. 13. The British media (in McNair, 1998, 2009)  Survey’s have shown that the media does influence people’s opinion, ahead of friend’s, family, and that television journalism is the main source of people’s information about the world.  Research by Ofcom in 2006 demonstrated that viewers place high value on television news and current affairs, at both national and regional levels (Ofcom, 2007).  Sources for news for the UK population:  A 2006 global survey of news consumers conducted for the BBC, Reuters and the Media Centre found that the most important source of information for UK citizens was television, followed by newspapers, radio and the Internet. TV was cited by 86%, followed by friends and family (78%), newspapers (76%) and radio (67%).
  14. 14. Ofcom 2013 report on the media: key findings  News consumption in the UK  TV remains the most important and frequently-used mode of news consumption, and one in five people say their only source of news is television.  Nearly 8 in ten (78%) UK adults say they use television to access news. Newspapers by four in ten; radio by just one-third (35%); and the Internet, either on a computer or mobile, by just one third (32%).  TV channels are seen as the most important source, but one in seven people nominate a website or apps as their most important news source  TV channels are the most popular source of local news, although one in three respondents say they browse online for local news and information.  Across all platforms, BBC One is the most-used news source. After the BBC, Facebook and Google are the most used online news sources.  The UK television industry generated £ 12.3 bi in revenue during 2012, an increase of £ 103 m (or 0.8%) on 2011 in nominal terms.
  15. 15. The media, journalism and politics: the coverage of women politicians
  16. 16. Issue in the news: the case of the media coverage of women in the US Congress (in Norris, 1997)  There has been still little research on the relationship between female politicians and the media  Case study – examines the quantity and the content of the newspaper coverage of women who served in the 103rd Congress in the US.  Political women and feminists have argued that the media treat them less seriously than they treat men, focusing too seldom on issues and too often on their appearances and their family lives, relegating stories about women and politics to the style pages (Carroll et al, 1997, 132)  The political agenda has become polarised by issues such as affirmative action, abortion rights and welfare reform. Gender politics has grown in importance in the US in the last decades.  I.e. Kahn’s (1994a) research has found that women candidates for the US Senate received less campaign coverage than men, and that it was more likely to be negative
  17. 17. Issue in the news: the case of the media coverage of women in the US Congress (in Norris, 1997)  The effects of the “Year of the Woman” – Women candidates received unprecedented attention during the 1993 elections. Never had the media paid so much attention to women who were running for office.  In 1992, 24 new women were elected to the US House of Representatives, increasing the number of women members of the House from 29 to 47.  Chapter is part of a larger project, Centre for the American Woman and Politics (CANP), with more than 250 in depth interviews having been conducted with women members of the Congress.  Analysis included a set of 291 articles on women in the 103rd Congress published in 27 major newspapers in the US, between January 1993- October 1994.  Analysis looked at the quantity and placement of the coverage
  18. 18. Female politicians and media coverage in the US (in Norris, 1997)  Findings and conclusions:  The number of general articles on women in Congress was highest during the first six months of 1993, declining over the course of the term. The patterns in press coverage suggest that the interest in general stories about women in Congress declined as the Year of the Woman faded into memory.  Women in Congress were portrayed as agents of change:  They were portrayed as making a difference, despite having to struggle against sexism and to juggle family and careers. Problem of omission more than anything else:  There was too much focus on women having involvement in health, abortion and other subjects, and not on foreign affairs, international trade, and regulatory reform. Coverage presented a narrow portrayal of what women in Congress can and did accomplish, reinforcing the perception that women only do “women’s stuff”.
  19. 19. Issues in the News: environment, war, protests
  20. 20. War and “infotainment” (in Thussu, 2007)  “….the visual spectacle of violence and death grabs the attention and engages the audience like few other media subjects, whether its causes are human (wars, riots….), natural (floods, earthquakes, hurricane) or both (famine). The potential for constant 24 hour breaking news was most clearly demonstrated by the sudden rise to global fame of CNN in 1991… CNN created a new paradigm of 24 hour news culture, which comes alive during conflict situations.”  “…the demand for 24/7 news, as well as competition among new providers, can lead to the sensationalization and trivialization of often complex situations and a temptation to highlight the entertainment value of news.  Organizational professional and economic pressures on news:  “Given the demands of a 24 hour news cycle, reporters may find it difficult to obtain sufficient material to fill the air time….During the events of 9/11, TV networks had sometimes to resort to speculation and suggestion rather than accurate reporting.”
  21. 21. “Infotainment” and news (in Thussu, 2007)  Representation of war on TV has evolved in the past decade in parallel with the globalization of “infotainment”, “demonstrating a tendency to use entertainment formats, including video/computer-game style images of surgical strikes by intelligent weaponry….and satellite pictures, and a ‘chat- show’ style of ‘experts’.  Homogenization of the coverage of conflicts:  This results in the appearance of a bloodless conflict “largely devoid of any real sense of death and destruction – the audience can be desensitized to the tragedy and horror of war (Thussu, 2003)”.  TV’s news obsession with high-tech war reporting has grown since the 1991 US war on Iraq – I.e. the US “Shock and Awe” campaign – showed the ‘awesome’ power of the bombardment.  The use of embedded journalists was also perceived as a strategy that reinforced the control over the images of the war and did “PR for the Pentagon”
  22. 22. “Infotainment” and news (in Thussu, 2007)  TV coverage of war has resembled “war games amongst boys”  Some TV producers have used the ‘war on terror’ to make reality TV programs: one was MTV’s Military Diaries, based on daily life examples of US soldiers in Afghanistan.  As Boyd-Barrett (2004: 26) has argued:  “Classic warfare is the epitome of a ‘good story’, high in tension and drama, with complex main plots and sub-plots played out within traditional binary oppositions of aggressors and victim, winner and loser. While expensive to cover, warfare is commercially rewarding for the media, since its threat and unfolding ignite insatiable audience appetites for news. Advertisers may initially fear the risk of juxtaposing products with unsavoury and unsettling issues, but they soon benefit from higher audience numbers and from the potential for linking merchandise with semiotics of patriotism.”
  23. 23. Media and democracy in Latin America and Brazil: a case study (Matos, 2012)  Made reference to Hallin and Mancini (2000) model to talk about Latin America in comparative perspective  Latin America – combined European models and the US liberal Contrast to Southern Europe:  Similarities exist in terms of:  a) the existence of a small elite circulation newspaper press;  b) the dominance of the market forces and commercialization;  c) politicization of broadcasting and instrumentalization of privately-owned media;  d) tradition of advocacy in journalism  Latin American countries are seeking to deepen media democratization and create regulation policies for the public interest
  24. 24. Case study: 2013 Brazil protests  (http://edition.cnn.com/2013/06/28/world/americas/brazil-protests- favelas/)
  25. 25. London riots 2011 (BBC News) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mm8r8I7ApDQ)
  26. 26. Group Presentations Questions to consider: •What is the issue being presented in the news reportage? •What or who are the sources for the news reportage and what does this tell you? •What is being shown and why? •Could it have been shown another way? •How does the news piece fit with theories of news values and selection? •In what way is the news reportage ideological? Answer this with reference to theories on the ideological aspect of news, relating this to the ways in which images were presented, the type of commentary made and other production processes. •How might this news reportage contribute to public understanding?
  27. 27. How will I be assessed?  What does the presentation need to have? Structure Content Clarity of argument Engagement with the theories Demonstration of analytical skills Creativity and originality Presentation skills Use of Power Point slides
  28. 28. Questions to examine in seminars  1) What are the main democratic duties of the media? Making use of some of the theories on the “objective” character of the media, bias and ideology, what are in your opinion some of the difficulties that the media face worldwide in living up to their democratic duties?  Case study:  2) The Carroll et al text looked at the media coverage of women in the US Congress in the 1990s.  A) Do you identify similar patterns of news coverage of gender politics in the UK or in other countries?  B) What is the nature of the relationship between female politicians and the media?  C) Do you believe the situation has changed much? In what way? How are female politicians represented currently in the US/UK/other country?
  29. 29. Seminar activities for week 5  Choose a particular issue in the news to discuss. Collect newspaper articles for this and bring to class next week. Select a theory and/or theories to discuss.  Questions to guide your analysis for next week’s seminars:  What is the issue being discussed?  Who are the sources? Could there have been others?  Is the story “objective”, or is it balanced enough?  What are the theories that you can apply to this (i.e. propaganda model, hegemony, etc)?  In your view, what is the “ideology” behind the story? Is there a particular angle being emphasised against another? Which voices have not been heard or are marginalised?
  30. 30. Readings for week 8  Required:  Kilborn, Richard and Izod, John (1997) “Mapping the Terrain: What is Documentary?” in An Introduction to Television Documentary: Confronting Reality, Manchester University Press  Nichols, Bill (2001) “How Can We Define Documentary Film?” in Introduction to Documentary, Indiana University Press, 1- 42  Additional:  Chaney, David and Pickering, Michael (1986) “ Authorship in Documentary: Sociology as an Art Form in Mass Observation” in Corner, John (ed.) Documentary and the Mass Media, London: Arnold, 29-41  Creeber, Glen, Miller, Toby and Tulloch, J. (eds.) (2008) The Television Studies Genre Book, BFI, see sections on “news” and “documentary”