When I was young, I used to spend my time watching news with my parents during the prime time for news reporting. Since I was young, I had this impression that journalists are good people that had a great job. For more than a century and half, they have had authorization in bringing the truth to people. They are people that have traveled far from their homeland to different countries around the world, overcoming great obstacles and made great and horrific sacrifices, putting their life in risk to obtain the first hand news at the front line, to ensure news was reported quickly, accurately and honestly. Too often, we heard news of journalists being reported missing, threaten, kidnapped and murdered brutally at the riot areas and war zones. Their presence is like heroes bravely go into the enemies zone, providing truth to people all around the world to enhance world civilization. The press carried the image of integrity and ethical behavior of gathering and reporting the news.
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Since the introduction of the first newspaper, Relation by Johann Carolus in the human history, people has developed a strong trust and reliant on the mainstream media in providing the latest breaking news that is happening around the world. The press, act as a body that has authority in accessing the first hand news, has privilege in selecting and filtering news and contents that will be disseminate to their audiences. How do the media consider which news are news- worthy enough to be cover at the newsroom?
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According to Golding and Elliot, the media selects its available stories and rating them from important to less important, creating the news that they want to report based on their opinion. It derived from unstated or implicit assumptions or judgement about the audience, accessibility and fit (Golding & Elliot, 2000). When selecting a news, the press will consider news that will appeal according to the audiences preferences rather than applying objective standard.
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Americans were assumed by the media as not interested in foreign affairs. Hence, to satisfy their appetite, western media tend to select, include and exclude certain elements, setting priorities over foreign news coverage, “driven principally by budgetary constraint, as well as a desperate fear of challenging the viewer with material they may find dull,’ (Lee- Wright, 2012). They are like the gatekeepers, filtering and selecting news by incorporating their own preferences and perspective when reporting a news. For instance, the historic international stories, the ‘Arab Spring’.
Most of the western media failed to highlight the historical evolution of the Arab world due to lack of coverage of the event as Ben Wedeman, CNN’s Cairo-based senior international correspondent addressed, the role of journalists is crucial in covering the event with constant news coverage in addressing the event, as he stated “‘Arab Spring’ is a story of huge historical importance that will reverberate for years afterwards, a bit like World War I and its impact on the Middle East that we feel to this very day,” (Marshall, 2011). The western media has been criticized for their news coverage in selecting what elements to include and exclude in their newsroom, evading statutory procedure than mature reflection. When covering the Egyptian Revolution, the press tend to magnify the controversy such as violent and drama rather than underlying injustice facing by the Egypt nation. The Boston bombing which happened tragically on the April 15th, dominated most cover pages of newspapers and was highlighted in newsroom in many countries including Malaysia. Within 24 hours, another bombing happened in Iraq, causing a great lost and suffering. However, unlike the significant attention received by the Boston bombing, how many of us actually noticed about the tragedy that is happening in Iraq at almost the same period of time? To be honest, I never have heard about the Iraq bombing as my surrounding was being flooded with news related to Boston bombing.
News is a very powerful tool in shaping people perspective and ideologies. According to Golding and Elliot, “News is ideology to the extent that it provides an integrated picture of reality. It is ideology implies that it provides a world view both consistent in itself, and supportive of the interest of powerful social groups,” (Golding & Elliot, 2000). It suggests that:
- The news gathered our attention on events that is managed and resolved.
- The news report on controversy subjects that is limited by the cultural norm.
- Broadcast news is for historical and organization reason, portraying the dead of democracy.
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Hence, it is extremely important for the media corporation to remain rational in news reporting. However, despite the press claiming themselves of holding on to their integrity and ethical practices in news reporting, the truth is not always beautiful. As most of the mainstream medias around the world are dominant by six major corporations, there are chances where the broadcast news being broadcasted consist of bias view of the journalists, that is often influenced and bounded by professional standards of the media corporations. Golding and Elliot suggests that news is biased, especially when it is bound to the professional standard. Most of the time, the news is handled and constructed by individuals, who in turn consciously or unconsciously put in their own thought and perspective into that piece of news (Golding & Elliot, 2000).
However, there is always hero with a rescue plan, bringing light into the darkness. For instance, the Middle East based Al Jazeera, Global Voices and numerous independent bodies that cover news with better details, changing the representation of the Arab world, challenging the assumption of ‘no democracy’ and voicing out for the voiceless, has march the world toward democracy and civilization, shaping a better world and a brighter tomorrow.
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Lee- Wright, P 2012, ‘News Values: An Assessment of News Priorities Through a Comparative Analysis of Arab Spring Anniversary Coverage’, Journal article, viewed 3/10/13, accessed UOW@sols.
Rohayu Kosmin, 2013, ‘Who Counts in Global Media? News Value’, Lecture Slides, BCM111, University of Wollongong, viewed 3/10/13, accessed UOW@sols.
Golding, P & Elliot, P 2000, ‘News Values & News Production’, New York University Press, P. 632- 644, viewed 3/10/13, accessed <http://media.litmuse.net/vocabulary/bias/-news-value—news-production>
Balinska, M 2010, ‘A Former BBC Producer Takes a Fresh Look at Foreign News: ‘It’s the Audience, Stupid!’, The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, viewed 3/10/13, accessed <http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reports/article/102449/A-Former-BBC-Producer-Takes-a-Fresh-Look-at-Foreign-News-Its-the-Audience-Stupid.aspx>
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Sky News 2013, ‘Iraq Bombings: Up To 32 Killed In 18 Blasts’, 15 Apr, viewed 3/10/13, accessed <http://news.sky.com/story/1078291/iraq-bombings-up-to-32-killed-in-18-blasts>