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News stories are noticed as one the most common cultural phenomenon in democratic nations. It is recorded that in the world millions of viewers commit a lot of time just to watch news stories, current issues, and current events. Much of the news is reported not long after the event takes place and most of this news includes follow-up information that keeps the readers, viewers and listeners updated on the various progressions. News stories touch on almost all sectors of the society that include politics, economics and society. People and institutions with fame, such as politicians, and organizations with big influence in the society, are the newsmakers in today’s world. For an event or an issue to be considered newsworthy, it needs to be important to the reader, viewer or listener. Natural events and phenomenon as well as manmade events that cut across a large population in most situations have been presented as news events. News stories need to have relevancy to the reader, listener or viewer for them to be worthy of publication or broadcast.Skinner, in his article: Converging Media, Diverging Politics: A Political Economy of News Media in the United States and Canada, says that in production analysis of news stories, many issues are presented that cuts across many areas. In presentation of news stories, media ownership determined the kind of news stories that are presented, and the timings that such story is presented. Due to the fact that less and less people own media in many parts of the world, in some instances news presented has been compromised when the owners feel they have an interest over the issues. If they feel the news stories can tarnish their name or interests and their associates and friends, they can have an influence or determine if the news stories will be published or not. It is noticed that many media owners have political interests and political friends, and therefore in some examples that they report the positive sides of their political friends in relation to news events and stories. For example, Ted Turner own CNN, and this could give the station a Republican slant, due to Turner’s political affiliation. It is also important to note that politicians mostly have been called newsmakers, and this has forced some of them to engage in good relationship with media owners, and as a result they have witnessed biased report of news events and stories. Large corporations and businesses groups in some instances have owned media houses, and in this case media houses have become part of their large business empires and groups.
Media is also a critical tool to reach intended targets in business, specifically through marketing and advertisement. The corruption of news media is not limited to political parties, as many powerful corporations have been accused of compromising the kind of information being presented, especially news events touch the negative part of such corporations. For example, if a news event that criticizes any product from such corporations may be due to bad quality or unfair pricing and competition from opponents, there is the possibility that the facts will not be presented. After all, many of these news organizations rely on a single advertiser for a significant amount of revenue. This means when an advertiser does not wish to have a news item published, the media outlet needs to decide if printing the story is more important than having the advertiser keep advertising. In other cases, media has prevented their competitors from actively utilizing their media in advertising and marketing by being tactical and limiting competitors from using prime time in news stories to advertise. Many civil groups in the world fighting for free media and freedom of information have noted that monopoly and few numbers of people owning media have been the greatest hurdle in eliminating challenges facing media in production analysis, as well as other form of critical analysis. Such groups have noted that independent media and large ownership by many people and individuals will ensure credible and quality news stories are presented that has no bias in any perspective.
News stories mostly reflect the class values of the producers. Throughout society, there are various different people from different social classes that include the upper, middle and lower classes. News producer shave been accused of being biased in the kind of news stories that they present, Lisbeth Clausen notes in Global News Production. If news reporters or presenters come from a middle class, one would come up with stories that relate to that person’s daily life. This prompted Huff in his book Censored 2013: The Top Censored Stories and Media Analysis of 2011-2012 to argue that such situations a person would present what one is familiar with, and they might happen unconsciously. People will normally relate to what they are familiar with and what they understand better. Views and perception about issues is determined directly and indirectly by the social class. What might be viewed as news story by somebody from lower class might not be worthy of a news story to somebody from upper class. It is been noticed that middle class and upper class in most places have controlled and determined the contents in news stories. Also, values that relate to gender and race have determined at times the kinds of news stories that have been presented. This has also compromised news stories presented, and therefore contributed in general to the challenges that face mass media in performing its mandate of educating, informing and entertaining without bias or fear, says Paul Manning in News and News Soruces.
News stories have been observed and presented in some instances as commodities, that is, they have been commercialized. It is asserted that indeed news stories attract a large number of audiences either in visual or audio setups. It is also noted that during news times, most corporations and businesses use this time to present their advertisements and marketing, and in most instances it is described as “prime time”. Experts and scholars in media-related affairs have noted that this attitude has in turn promoted consumption values and habits, which have both positive and negative effects. News stories in some incidences are sold to media houses that pay to cover the news story. Also, a citizen journalist may sell a “newsy” photo to the media outlet. This has raised moral and ethical questions regarding journalism and mass media in general. Manning, in News and News Sources: A Critical Introduction, cautioned that commercialization of news stories has lowered the standards of mass media and communications in general, and this has been the position of most media and communications experts. It is an important concern that has to be addressed in popular culture. This supports the idea that journalism is becoming less democratic.
News stories produced and other popular culture have faced constraints in the production process, and therefore this has determined and twisted the contents produced. In some instances accessing information that will constitute part of the news has been challenging. Those with information in some instances have willingly held on to the information may be due to one reason or the other. Information being critical that can either makes or break an institution, individual or organization, people and organizations, in some instances, have been unwilling to share information. Specific people in organization are allowed to speak over an issue and not anybody else. This has had an impact in the content and accuracy of news being presented. In such circumstances, it has forced news presenters to come up with stories that are not fully complete, and in some instances they have been made to hypothesize. Some of the information presented in news story is also censured to cater to certain interests in the public such as abusive language or ugly scenes that might have devastating effects to viewers and listeners. Therefore, in such situation, content presented has been shaped and not presented, as it ought to have been presented, further eroding at the commitment to democracy that journalism once had.
Two common terms used to describe such happenings are “commercial’ and “technical “constraints. Some news stories also have been edited and presented in a way that limits commercial contents over an issue. In such incidences, news stories are edited in such a way that they will not give the concerned parties any commercial advantages through marketing and advertising. Technical constraints at times occur in news stories due to technological failure and this may be because of a faulty device that might have encountered a problem. Electronics devices used to prepare and present news stories might experience a technical problem, and therefore it is not a guarantee that they will work. Such devices have also failed to work in other areas different from mass media, and therefore this should be viewed as common and normal issue. Such constraints have affected the way news stories are presented not only in the present times but also in the past. This uncertainty in the accuracy of technology erodes the facts, which decreases the promotion of democracy.
Lastly, it is also important to point out that accessibility to media outlets has been a challenge and restricted place for most consumers. In other words, the newspapers are not working with the people that they are supposed to be the voice of and the voice for. The ironic part about this is that it is the consumers, including viewers, listeners and readers, of products from these media outlets contribute to revenue by making purchases. Media entities have to establish a mutual relationship among its customers. On this note, critiques have argued that media houses restrict visitors because some media outlets work from terrible places that do not meet basic standards and environment of work places, and therefore to cover this challenge, they restrict access to their consumers. Ott and Mack in Critical Media Studies: An Introduction noted that such issues have mostly been observed in popular culture of radio and news stories presented from such media; it can be difficult to tell precisely how the work places look. It is also noted from this discussion that viewers and consumers of such products such as news story are only presented with beautiful and entertaining items that are selectively chosen. Most consumers do not know and understand the processes that it entails to produce news stories and the challenges faced.
In production analysis, the discussed and presented issues are looked at from all angles, perception and possibilities in relation to mass media. News stories have played important roles that have shaped the political structure in many ways. Politicians, being part of newsmakers, have had great interests in mass media, especially in news stories because such popular culture has influenced either directly or indirectly in shaping their destiny and future. It is also important to note that most of the popular culture that exists, including news stories, are driven by one major ideology and concern: profit. Media and mass communication in general has proved to be a critical component that determines and shapes our societies and communities.
In conclusion, it is important to emphasize the relevance of all popular culture in mass media and communication, yet this importance is becoming less substantial due to the fact that media corporations are interested in profit before democracy. Many cultures have contributed tremendously in realizing the goals and objectives of mass media in society, but these goals are not being honoured. Critical analysis of all the popular culture is good and healthy for growth and development of media in the world in the broad-spectrum. Where media has been critiqued, it has to address those issues if possible, which touch on sensitive parts of the industry such as ownership, commercialization, values, accessibility and constraints. In analysis, not only production contents should be addressed but also historical, audience and textual so that a clear and in-depth understanding of the issues touching on mass media and communication can be attained. Ultimately, mass media needs to reclaim its roots of being a vital component to the promotion of democracy.
Clausen, Lisbeth. Global News Production. København: Copenhagen Business School Press, 2003.
Goodyear-Grant, Elizabeth. Gendered News: Media Coverage and Electoral Politics in Canada. Jefferson, NC [u.a.: McFarland, 2008.
Huff, Mickey. Censored 2013: The Top Censored Stories and Media Analysis of 2011-2012. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2012.
Manning, Paul. News and News Sources: A Critical Introduction. London 2001.
Ott, Brian L, and Robert L. Mack. Critical Media Studies: An Introduction. Chichester, U.K: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.
Skinner, David. Converging Media, Diverging Politics: A Political Economy of News Media in the United States and Canada. Lanham, MD [u.a.: Lexington Books, 2005.
Vivian, John, and Peter Maurin. The Media of Mass Communication. Toronto: Pearson Allyn & Bacon, 2009.