Nuance pdf forbipinsir

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Nuance pdf forbipinsir

  1. 1. nuances of news reporting: a socio-cultural assessment (WORK IN PROGRESS) Jagadish Pokhrel Bipin Acharya
  2. 2. background: towards a tale of two studies • observant participation, 2002-03 • Post-1990 policy changes had ended the monopoly of The Rising Nepal • In 2002-03, TRN was struggling for a foothold in the transforming media landscape • Elsewhere, ethnographers immersed further into the journalistic field • A TRN journalist, I tangoed with an anthropologist to study the news • My observant participation (Bell, 1993) brought the tacit knowledge and the role of agency in news making to sharp focus • The Earthling-Martian collaboration resulted in a narrative description of the news craft as practiced at TRN 12/15/2013 • survey assessments, 2012-13 • Media Foundation Nepal, a media thinkand-do-tank, surveyed Nepali journalists and the public • Findings more generalizable • With the benefit of hindsight, I wanted to see how the findings spoke to my observation of the TRN newsroom • I juxtaposed details and depth with numbers and breadth and tuned in where they resonated • The purpose was to see how the two studies told a tale about the hard questions and constraints of the profession • One handled these in so many words or another counted ‘yes’ and ‘no’ or ‘can’t say’– e.g. the role of journalism in society? pokhrel, j & acharya, bipin 2
  3. 3. objectives of this paper • Overall aim •Foreground the nuances of the journalistic craft while revisiting a newsroom observation and a survey research, a decade and two methods apart, to explore what it is that resonates in the studies at the level of the profession • Specific objectives •Bring a native view to news making and shed light on its practical nuances while, at the same time, meeting the rigors of a Martian perspective •Discuss the agency and the tacit knowledge of journalists •Discuss some hard questions about the profession •Articulate the desires of the craftspeople •Highlight what constrains journalistic work – from locating to reporting facts 12/15/2013 pokhrel, j & acharya, bipin 3
  4. 4. observant participation • Context of study • • • • • • • Journalism permeated into many theaters of social experience Some big names in the private media were ex-TRN journalists Most criticism of TRN text showed omission of facts, not commission of distortion, errors, The subtext, the government, was invisible presence in news routines and bureaucracy The practice of news craft, the setting, practitioners, their hopes and fears were worth studying Not many journalists handled email We huddled around the chief reporter as he struggled to use a gifted Sony handheld • Why ethnography • Ethnographers had found a timely and fertile topic in journalism (Boyer & Hannerz, 2006) • Observant participation took us straight to a newsroom in action • Triangulation of observation, interview and text analysis authenticated interpretation of the W’s, H, and So What of news making • Anthropological field dichotomies, universal-particular, subjective-objective, and terms, life-world, habitus, etc, assured productive engagement 12/15/2013 pokhrel, j & acharya, bipin 4
  5. 5. survey assessments, 2012 •What they were •Media Foundation Nepal, a think-and-do-tank, carried out the survey assessments, they were kind of baseline studies. The report is available @ http://www.media-foundation.org/uploaded/pdf/Media_and_The_Nepali_Public_2012.pdf • The report showcases the findings of: Journalists' Survey (N=838), Public Opinion Survey (N= 2,252), SMS poll (N=739) and Focus group discussions (FGDs) • Overall goal of the surveys • Assess the media environment of Nepal • Immediate objectives • Identify media capacity development priorities in light of the following: Attributes of Nepali journalists, their professional challenges, their perceptions of media credibility, and capacity development needs 12/15/2013 pokhrel, j & acharya, bipin 5
  6. 6. methods • A close reading and comparison of two studies • In self-reports, facts, numbers and interpretations at the level of profession • Fresh literature review • Breakdown of the news production process into categories • locate, elicit, collect, select, plan, write, edit, send for production, etc • Reading the research reports in light of this production process 12/15/2013 pokhrel, j & acharya, bipin 6
  7. 7. findings • From observant participation, 2002 • Through a week’s newsroom observation, several unstructured interviews, and analyses of front page news stories over two months, the TRN study asked: • What can reporters tell us about their professional practices? • What does a close reading of a sample of news stories reveal? • The reporters had so much to tell the researchers about their professional practices (objectives related) • • • • • News is a product of multiple hands Ownership structure of the newsroom imposes limits to news work News work is a routinized desire to tell a good story News re-creates an event News is understandable because the producers and consumers collaborate • A close reading of the interviews and news stories revealed lofty craft desires of journalists, despite severe constraints (to engage, inform, educate, so on.) 12/15/2013 pokhrel, j & acharya, bipin 7
  8. 8. findings, contd. 1 HIGHLIGHTS • The native condition (method related) • When the excitement of starting into journalism fades, you settle in with a routine (like a clerk, one informant says) • “What is news?” I ask a friend. “You know it, come on,” he grins at me. (the difficulty of interviewing colleagues) • “Man bites dog is news , another colleague tells me on further probe, “but not always. You know that at TRN, right?” • “How do you know you got all the facts for your story?” I ask. “When you run out of questions, stop asking the sources, or when you think you need to go to office, to meet the deadline!” • The tango (method related) • “Man-bites-dog is quite an interesting definition of what is news,” my Martian supervisor tells me. “Now start triangulation, analyze content, hold focus groups.” • The Earthling is intimidated. “Triangulation sounds like something really worth doing,” a hard-boiledjournalist, I tell Bipin sir, showing a bit of my awe and skepticism about the scholarly process. 12/15/2013 pokhrel, j & acharya, bipin 8
  9. 9. findings, contd. 2 • The tacit knowledge (Process/practice related) • The way you learn to walk and take walking for granted, many reporters learn their craft through newsroom socialization. Rather than strictly following professional norms, values and codes, you learn to follow the unwritten code inside your newsroom walls • Some hard questions (Profession related) • Attachment -- detachment (Lenin is dead, he said), the bureaucratic intrigue (e.g. contacts, sources, spin –normal: reporter calls source), Who to ask what about what, what the world is and how it gets reported, news is about matters of public interest (ok, but news values prize violence and conflict – if it bleeds, it leads), creative possibilities (e.g. universal-particular, conventionwastebasket), etc • Desires of the craft (Process/practice related) • Tell news stories in a compelling manner, engage the people, help inform, entertain, educate, etc 12/15/2013 pokhrel, j & acharya, bipin 9
  10. 10. findings, contd. 3 • The performance ritual (Structure and influence related) • Roles: Both newsroom actors and news actors performed roles that bore on how the reporters worked • Rules: Reporters internalized a set of rules as to how to gather and write news stories. They were not always explicit and rigid. Journalists invoked conventions to justify their claims about why they do what they do • Routines: Reporters go about doing their work as a routine activity • Resources: How equipped reporters are to do their job, their readily available intellectual and physical resources affects the news process • Attributes of informants • Educated, Brahmin, male, median age 30’s, informed the observant participation 12/15/2013 pokhrel, j & acharya, bipin 10
  11. 11. findings, contd. 4 • From MFN surveys HIGHLIGHTS • Attributes of Nepali journalists: • Mostly young, educated male, Brahmin-Chhetri background, urban, semi-urban, and still largely print-based • They earned low to moderate income. Most worked full-time, a majority in the private sector media • Perceptions of media credibility: • Majority of journalists see the media and their content generally trustworthy but partisan. Poor language and presentation style (Resource/resourcefulness) hampering credibility • Code violation mainly due to lack of awareness about ethics 12/15/2013 pokhrel, j & acharya, bipin 11
  12. 12. findings, contd. 5 • The constraints • External (From literature review and MFN surveys) • Nature of democracy, state policy, economy, organizational structure, information needs of society, cultural tastes, etc. • Social perception of journalists as politically biased, inadequate security to journalists from the state, political partisanship and institutional bias of media houses, lack of technological resources and training for individual journalists • Internal (observant participation, 2002): • The R’s -- Roles (general, special topic), Rules (one, many or no sources), Routines/Rituals (finds news or news finds) and Resources (specialist, generalist, language facility, walks to where events happen or flies to, the money he spends on news, etc 12/15/2013 pokhrel, j & acharya, bipin 12
  13. 13. The needs, example • Need for capacity development • 55% indicate lack of professional satisfaction despite some training. Many prefer in-house training and internships. 12/15/2013 pokhrel, j & acharya, bipin 13
  14. 14. Two studies, one typicality • Typical respondent • Typical response • Young (below 35), educated, Brahmin, male journalist from urban or semi-urban location, with low to moderate income 12/15/2013 • Constrained by structures, lack of environment, incentive and prospects for growth of professional journalists and media houses pokhrel, j & acharya, bipin 14
  15. 15. Conclusion • RESOURCEFULNESS: Despite constraints, TRN journalists go about their jobs in a routine manner, their tacit knowledge guiding what they actually do. Some have enough resourcefulness, if not enough resources, to set examples of overcoming the constraints to produce great stories (e.g. Manmohan). (observant participation, 2002) • RESOURCEFULNESS: Journalists across clusters, sexes, education levels, study areas, beats, and media ownership types, going beyond basic training, stressed on hands-on proficiency and advanced/specialized training, time management, ICT skills, critical thinking skills, and language skills. (Survey assessments, 2012) • SYNTHESIS: The two studies are about a persistent journalistic condition in which all professionals show the desire to get equipped with resources or resourcefulness, to be able to write good stories, be it by way of self-reflection, training, or education, despite the social, political, organizational, conventional and cultural rules and constraints of various degrees and intensities • CAUTION: This cursory synthesis of a work in progress needs further reading and refinement -- THANKS 12/15/2013 pokhrel, j & acharya, bipin 15

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