Making Important News Interesting: Reporting Public Affairs in the 21st Century

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The internet is not keeping everyone informed, nor will it. It is, in fact, magnifying problems of information inequality, misinformation, polarisation and disengagement. To do this, BBC News is going to have to start thinking how it is going to deliver on its mission to inform beyond broadcasting. Britain has a unique asset in the World Service - and the BBC needs to decide whether there should be a strategy for growth or managed marginalisation.

In the UK, devolution and the decline of the regional press are creating a real need for local news coverage. What really matters. What it really means. To provide the real story, we have to be uncompromising about our journalistic values - accuracy, impartiality, diversity of opinion, fair treatment of people in the news and public service.

And we have to be clear about the way we work. And independence. For, in a democracy, news is the essential public service. Government by the people cannot function without it. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them. The job of the news is to keep everyone informed - to enable us to be better citizens, equipped with what we need to know.

In the exciting, uneven and noisy internet age, the need for news - accurate and fair, insightful and independent - is greater than ever. Future of News. And it used to be said that freedom of the press is limited to those who own one.

What makes people trust and rely on news

So, how has the internet changed the news? We are living at the most exciting time for journalism since the advent of television. A decade ago, people outnumbered connected devices by about 10 to one. If anything, it will accelerate. The disruption.

About the study

In this bustling environment, there is less news and more noise. Who cares? People say access to the news has never been better. The internet will also change the news. Happy posts made people more likely to be happy. It is an age of growing information inequality. The news industry can help determine the kind of connected society we are.

Even some caustic satires of the news business contain versions of the journalist as noble loner. The second type of journalist, characterized by Walter Burns, is more common in the entertainment media.

Introduction and summary

But even less bitter films show reporters as inevitably led astray from their devotion to the truth to the point that they destroy lives and reputations in their reckless search for an exclusive story ahead of other reporters a scoop that is dramatic and shocking. Hurt—good-looking, smooth, unscrupulous, and none too bright—wins out over the dumpier, knowledgeable, and dedicated Brooks. A contemporary example of the second type is Rita Skeeter. Introduced by J. She is untrustworthy, unscrupulous, vindictive, and vile. They destroy friendships, inflict pain and suffering, and deprive decent people of their jobs.

Rita Skeeter gets scoops by turning herself into a bug. The moral is that such journalists are nasty bugs. Journalists follow standard procedures to obtain the news. They go to the scene, especially of wars and disasters. They talk to people who have participated in, witnessed, or claim to know what happened. They dig into records. Easing their job, many events, such as press conferences, trials, and elections, are scheduled ahead of time.

21st-century censorship

News organizations guarantee stories by assigning reporters to cover distinct beats Institutions, organizations, and subjects that a reporter is assigned to cover regularly. Sometimes events thrust them into prominence, as when the banking crisis of raised questions about the regulatory effectiveness of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Journalists interact with and rely extensively on sources People, often in government, who, for one reason or another, provide reporters with information.

Other sources are whistle-blowers, who reveal information they have about dubious activities, outrages, or scandals. Depending on their motives, sources either provide information openly and unreservedly or leak it subject to various conditions such as anonymity. Often the reporter-source relationship is symbiotic: they need each other. Reporters need sources for news.

Sources need reporters to get their views and information into the news, to obtain favorable coverage. Sometimes the relationship is adversarial, with reporters pressing a reluctant source for information. Information from one beat may inspire a news story that another beat wants to keep quiet. Legislative committees, regulatory agencies, and governmental departments and commissions conduct investigations, hold hearings, and issue reports and press releases.

Journalists sometimes draw on these sources for their stories. James S. Ettema and Theodore L. This reporting requires detailed and thorough digging into a story. It is often time consuming and expensive.


The mass media rely on the wire services Agencies, particularly the Associated Press AP , that cover and transmit news stories from throughout the world to their subscribers, resulting in similar coverage in many of the news media. Wire services cover and transmit stories worldwide from their own staff and from reporters who work for the many newspapers and other organizations that belong to the services. The AP sends news to approximately 1, newspapers, 5, radio and television stations, and 8, other media outlets in over countries.

Video feeds supplied by the AP and Reuters are the source of much of the televised international news. Subscribers are sent video accompanied by natural sound without narration and brief printed informational scripts. As a result of widely agreed-upon criteria of newsworthiness, the process of gathering the news, and the use of news services, the news media often report many of the same stories. Only a few stories are featured prominently due to limitations in broadcast prime time and front-page print space.

Nonetheless, there are some differences among the media in the range and type of news on which they focus. For example, the New York Times , with its stable of reporters in Washington, DC, and foreign correspondents, emphasizes government and politics in the United States and abroad.

Cable news channels focus more on crimes and celebrities.

Aside from a few stories, such as the war in Iraq and natural disasters, they give short shrift to foreign stories. The media also differ stylistically in how they present the news. The Times does it with relative sobriety. Television news is picture driven: stories with appealing, dramatic, or even available camera footage are more likely to be played prominently than those without. Viewers are unaware of what is not shown, what happened before or after the picture was taken, and whether or not the shot was staged.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it can also mislead, as Note 1.

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The square was sealed off by US marines. On television the statue falls, the crowd cheers. The images symbolize the US defeat of the dictator and his regime and the Iraqi people celebrating their newfound freedom. Wider shots of the square, revealing that only a handful of people were in the plaza, were far less common. The first photograph of the statue being pulled down reflects news values of vividness, drama, and conflict. It spectacularly hearkens back to the removal of statues of Lenin and Stalin after the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union. The alternative photos, showing much more of the relatively empty square, lacked dramatic news values and thus their symbolic effects.

Because the news media found the dramatic image to be irresistible, they reinforced a frame, pushed by the Bush administration, of a jubilant Iraqi population welcoming its liberators. But the meaning of an image can change. Now, for many people, the falling statue represents the illusion of a US military success that turned into a quagmire of frustration.

As we document throughout our book, people involved in public life understand that their election and reelection, their effectiveness in elected and appointed office, and their ability to achieve their policies often depend on how they and their deliberations and debates, disagreements and conflicts, cooperation and consensus, actions and inactions, and struggles for power, are portrayed by the media. They know that information is power. The more of it they have before others the better.

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They have aides who gather, synthesize, and summarize the news from newspapers and television, from talk shows, political publications Roll Call and The Hill , polls, websites, and blogs. They engage in public appearances, make speeches, hold press conferences, and stage newsworthy events. They also deploy an arsenal of savvy techniques such as brief, pithy phrases known as sound bites Brief phrases uttered by candidates that are designed to be compelling and fit into news stories.

Behind the scenes they bestow favors, such as giving access to sympathetic journalists; persuade; apply pressure; and engage in intimidation. Timothy E. New York: Longman, Three common types of coverage are lap-dog, watch-dog, and attack-dog journalism. Journalists usually rely on policymakers as knowledgeable and convenient sources of information.

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Much news, therefore, consists of the debates about issues and policies among officials and politicians.