About this sample
About this sample
Words: 901 |
5 min read
Published: Oct 2, 2020
Words: 901|Pages: 2|5 min read
News media brings to the public what happens in the world. Especially when audiences lack direct experience or knowledge of the occurring events, they tend to rely particularly on the media for obtaining information. This might not mean that media tell us what to think – “people do not absorb media messages uncritically”. The media, however, set the agenda for the public and bring particular issues to their attention, and in this way, limit the range of controversies and mindsets.
As Lippman (1921) stated, the media is the most significant means of making connections between the public and the unseen environment. We particularly assume that the media should, twice a day every day, present us with the true picture of the outside world, the world which we are interested in. We expect them to deliver the truth to us, “however unprofitable the truth may be”. But we know that this expectation is not always satisfied. Happer and Philo (2013) assert that mass media make it possible for information to flow between different groups of public effectively. The point, however, is that the media 'systematically edit and interpret the mass of information, making some sense of the world for audiences'.
As certain pieces of information are advocated more than others, they become privileged as being authoritative and sometimes even truthful.
There is also the popular belief that news merely presents facts. Especially, some Iranians believe that western news agencies such as BBC and CNN, as opposed to domestic ones, only present facts; and what is more, they perceive of it as being the truth.
However, contrary to this popular belief, there are those such as Mencken (1975) and Goldberg (2002) who maintain that news media do not necessarily report plain facts, and that they are usually biased. Georgiy Revyakin, a financial analyst, also believes all major news agencies and web-sites are biased towards their owners' particular point of views, but in different ways and to different extents. Furthermore, nowadays those sources of mass media that are relatively traditional are engaged in politics and are usually sponsored by a narrow circle of people for lobbing to serve their interests. Revyakin (2015) suggests that all information is subjective because it was written by certain people.
A series of influential studies named 'the bad news' that were carried out by the Glasgow University Media Group and that examined TV news programs, systematic content analyses of the programs and also of interviews and visual dimensions of news, revealed that among other things, the assumption or the prescription of impartiality of news representations (of public broadcasting companies like the BBC) is challenged by the biases in favor of the powerful that are sometimes present in subtle details such as style, turns in interviews, camera shots, etc. These biases often exist in the smallest linguistic details of news reporting where power relations and political ideologies are hidden.
Nevertheless, major news agencies such as Reuters, BBC, Guardian, and Associated press which have news manuals providing guidance to their news writers and editors make claims contrary to the above. In these manuals, the news agencies explain their preferred style, principles, policies, and code of conduct. For example, in Reuters Handbook of Journalism (2016) it is stated that:
Everything we do as Reuters journalists has to be independent, free from bias and executed with the utmost integrity. These are our core values and stem from the Reuters Trust Principles. As a real-time, competitive news service whose reputation rests on reliability, we also value accuracy, speed and exclusivity.… As journalists, however, we have additional responsibilities if we are to fulfill the highest aspirations of our profession - to search for and report the truth, fairly, honestly and unfailingly.
The Guardian also claims giving prominence to accuracy and fairness. Among other things, it is stated in their manual “The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures…”.
BBC also claims having similar values. After referring to the issue of responsibility of working as a journalist for BBC, the BBC News style-guide asserts, “BBC News is expected to set the highest standards in accuracy, fairness, impartiality – and in the use of language. Clear story-telling and language is at the heart of good journalism”, it says.
As it can be understood from the above, these news agencies all claim to value and practice accuracy, fairness, and impartially; though in practice these claims may not always be upheld. The fact that these major news agencies all emphasize these factors is an indication of their value in gaining people’s trust and earning an enviable reputation; something that, as opposed to many other news agencies, they have been relatively successful at.
Nonetheless, despite one longstanding assumption about how journalism works and that it can and should hold to a value-free or unbiased mode of presenting the world news to the public, that is, insisting on the possibility of reporting from no perspective at all – much critical literature on journalistic practice has begun to doubt news media in adopting this perspective in practice. In addition to the rejection of the idea of non-biased reporting, social perception scholars emphasize that it is inevitable for basic cognitive and perceptual mechanisms to be free of bias. And yet, the notion of bias still is a trump card in the hands of the media people in taking sides for and against certain world views.
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