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Ch10 Studying the News

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Module Studying the News This module is divided into two basic sections The first section deals with newspaper or print news The second section deals with television and radio news From studying this module you should learn to do the following - understand and apply the attributes for what contributes to making the news newsworthy - analyze the different sections of a newspaper and the functions of those different sections in terms of audience use and effectiveness - understand the development of news particularly in terms of the rise of Web-based news - understand the ideological perspectives shaping the news related to issues of bias or news selection - understand how corporate ownership of the news influences bias and selection - understand ways of assisting students in production of their own news - understand issues associated with the focus on entertainment aspects of local television news - understand elements of television news story selection related to quality and presentation - understand and examine issues related to political coverage war coverage diversity and commercialism associated with television news In studying the news a major initial concept to examine with students is the question as to what constitutes news Students could consider different examples of recent community or school events passing of a school bond referendum opening of a new business a bank robbery discovery of pollution in a river death of a prominent citizen etc and determine whether or not these events would be considered to be news in the context of their own personal conversations gossip the local radio station the local town newspaper the local regional newspaper the local television news station broadcast and a national newspaper In doing do they could consider the following criteria to determine the extent to which these events are news - significance Does the event have some significance for certain people What is considered to be significant for some may not be significant for others Significance may also depend on the interests needs and knowledge of certain audiences An environmentalist may perceive the pollution of a river as highly significant but not perceive a bank robbery as significant Students could examine some of the most significant news stories during the st Century and discuss why these events were considered to be significant Stories of the Century http www newseum org century index htm Webquest creating newspaper reports on the major stories of the th century http www rapides k la us pjh newswebquest htm - relevance The relevance of certain events may also depend on audiences interests needs and knowledge A group of high school students may perceive passing of a school bond referendum as highly relevant to their educational future while perceiving the opening of a new business as irrelevant to their lives - unusualness sensational In some cases stories of unusual or sensational events are perceived of as news because they attract audiences attention or are entertaining to audiences For example stories from the News of the Weird archive http www newsoftheweird com archive index html focus on bizarre strange events such as the following For an anniversary tribute to Sept victims the city of Jersey City N J planned to release a flock of doves at a downtown ceremony but since officials waited until the last minute to order the doves all suppliers were sold out Jersey City wound up having to use pigeons which had been caged most of their lives and observers at the solemn ceremony were forced to witness the awkward birds smashing into office-building windows plunging into the Hudson River and careening into the crowds New York Times - - - practical Audiences may also consider something as newsworthy if it has practical utilitarian value for them This accounts for the increase in the amount of information on medical health or consumer topics that audiences may perceive as useful for their own personal health or shopping even though the information provided may not be considered as highly significant in terms of political or economic considerations - threatening audience beliefs Audiences may also perceive news that challenges or threatens their beliefs and attitudes as not newsworthy They may perceive such news as bad news or as news that does not belong in a newspaper or broadcast given their own ideological perspectives Webquest elements of news http www ehhs cmich edu jwoehrle webquest html Considering community needs interests In applying these different criteria in deciding to include or emphasize a particular story a newspaper or TV news editor may take local community needs and interests into account asking the question is this event significant or relevant to my community s own needs and interests These considerations are central in considering whether a news story should be considered as significant for inclusion in the news In determining whether to include a local crime story an editor may consider whether information about that crime would enhance the community s larger needs and interests However an editor may also believe that a crime story will attract attention even though it may not necessarily enhance the community s larger needs and interests thereby considering the sensational nature of the story to be a more important criterion than the significance or relevance of the story Other factors related to news value www cultsock ndirect co uk MUHome cshtml media nvdetail html - Frequency the time-span of an event and the extent to which it 'fits' the frequency of the newspaper's or news broadcast's schedule Background to the news though - e g economic social or political trends - is less likely to make it into the news as such trends take a long time to unfold - Threshold How big is an event Is it big enough to make it into the news - Unambiguity How clear is the meaning of an event The mass media generally tend to go for closure unlike literature where the polysemy of events is exploited and explored An event such as a murder a car crash and so on raises no problems its meaning is immediately grasped so it is likely to make it into the news In an Observer article of June Peter Preston quoted the results of a survey of leading US media professionals across the US conducted by The Columbia Journalism Review which revealed that the most regular reason why stories don't appear is that they are 'too complicated' - Meaningfulness How meaningful will the event appear to the receivers of the news - Consonance Does the event match the media's expectations Journalists have a pretty good idea of the 'angle' they want to report an event from even before they get there If the media expect something to happen then it will - Unexpectedness 'Man bites dog' is news If an event is highly unpredictable then it is likely to make it into the news - Continuity Once an event has been covered it is convenient to cover it some more - the running story - Reference to lite persons The media pay attention to important people Anyone the media pay attention to must be important Civic journalism A key concept in considering the relationship between the news and the local community is the idea of civic journalism the extent to which a newspaper attempts to foster public discussion and debate about local issues with the intent of solving problems and changing public policy Journalists who are interested in civic journalism believe that journalists should be actively engaged in not only reporting news but also in influencing and fostering change A study Measuring Civic Journalism's Progress conducted at the University of Wisconsin for the Pew Center for Civic Journalism found that at least one fifth of all U S daily newspapers -- of the nation's dailies -- practiced some form of civic journalism between and and nearly all credit it with a positive impact on the community Most all of the project employed an explanatory story frame to cover public issues instead of a more traditional conflict frame which often reports two opposing viewpoints The projects also allowed citizens to voice their perspectives http www pewcenter org doingcj spotlight index php The study found that Some form of civic journalism was practiced in at least a fifth of all American newspapers in almost every state and in every region This figure is the most conservative possible and we believe the actual number may be closer to double There is a clear pattern of development in civic journalism content as journalists learned in what appear to be phases Civic journalism generally started with elections moved fairly quickly to coverage of general community issues and problems and then began to address specific community issues There is a parallel development of technique Civic journalism coverage was invented through a series of practical experiments in the early s It was extended through the attempt to develop daily and weekly routine from the mid- s on And with the advent of the Internet new interactive approaches to civic news coverage emerged starting in the late s The goals of news organizations show a strong commitment to the traditional public news values of informing the public and to a lesser extent the civic and democratic values of problem-solving and increased deliberation New ways of reporting the news have emerged that help citizens deliberate on important problems address and solve them and increase their voices in the community and in the pages of the papers A substantial minority of papers about continued their civic journalism involvements for three or more years with almost practicing for more than four years Finally there is significant but not conclusive evidence of impact in communities where civic journalism is practiced About a third of all cases showed some community newspaper partnerships More than half reported evidence of improved public deliberation Other results included use of projects by others improved citizens skills new civic organizations formed and increased volunteerism For a discussion of the relationship between the news and a local community see the following chapter Community as the Context for News from the book by Cheryl Gibbs and Tom Warhover Getting the Whole Story Reporting and Writing the News Guilford Press http www guilford com cgi-bin cartscript cgi page excerpts gibbsEX html cart id See also Kathleen Hall Jamieson The Interplay of Influence News Advertising Politics and the Mass Media Wadsworth Activity making editorial decisions Students could assume the role of editors of their local school or community papers They must then decide on whether they should include or exclude the previously developed events from their paper For teaching units from The Media and American Democracy site on newsworthyness and media ethics issues http www teachingdemocracy gse harvard edu New York Times Lesson Plans Nothing but the News Exploring and Creating Important News Stories http www nytimes com learning teachers lessons friday html Teaching The News Itself One strategy for teaching the newspaper as a media form is to use it to have students keep informed about current news events information The New York Times Learning Network http www nytimes com learning CNN For Your Information ways of integrating current events into teaching http fyi cnn com fyi USNews Classroom http www usnewsclassroom com Scholastic News for students grades - http teacher scholastic com scholasticnews Newsweek for students http school newsweek com Education Time Magazine http www time com time classroom Education World Ten activities for teaching with newspapers http www education-world com a lesson lesson shtml Students should also be aware of the range of different types of local newspapers including local suburban weekly papers such as those in Minnesota http www mnnews com webs html specialty newspapers such as the Asian-American Press http www mnnews com special html college university papers http www mnnews com college html Analysis of Newspaper Sections and Functions Students need to understand the functions of different sections of the newspaper One useful site to do that is the Minneapolis Star Tribune s Walk Through the Newspaper site http www startribune com education walk shtml which takes students through the following sections of the newspaper The different kinds of news Get acquainted with the different kinds of news and news stories The different levels of news Familiarize yourself with the different levels of news stories Editorial and commentary Learn the components of the editorial and commentary pages Sports Acquaint yourself with the components of the sports section Comics Familiarize yourself with the comics section and the nationwide distribution of comic strips Business and stocks Learn about business news and stock market listings in the Business section Advertising Get acquainted with the different kinds of advertising In analyzing the typical newspaper students could then examine aspects of newspaper design and layout by comparing different newspapers using even on-line versions although the differences between the original paper versions are more pronounced They could identify the uses of certain typeface type styles the font size and nature of headlines the grid the number of columns the size and number of pictures and how the news is organized in a paper They could also identify instances of design that are effective in terms of ease of reading versus less effective in terms of hindering their reading Photography Photography also plays a major role in news reporting Photos should function to aptly illustrate the content and gist of a story On the following PBS site Jeff Mermelstein an award-winning photographer shares his thoughts on photojournalism particularly photos he took of Ground Zero that appeared in The New York Times and elsewhere http www pbs org wnet mediamatters photo html The site contains two photo editors commenting on Jeff Mermelstein's photos as well as a photographic tour with Jeff as he talks photos in different parts of Manhatten For a Power Point presentation of various design features Attracting Readers Through Effective Design by Michael T Shepard http highschooljournalism org teachers tipsattracting htm Shepard cites a study on how readers process information on a newspaper page that employed devices tracking readers eye movements Eyes on the News by Dr Mario Garcia and Dr Pegie Stark Poynter Institute for Media Studies Readers process photographs percent of the time Readers process headlines percent of the time Text is processed only percent of the time Larger photos attract more readers pictures columns or wider are processed percent of the time Mug shots are processed less than half of the time Informational graphics are read percent of the time Jim Miller identifies instances of effective versus ineffective newspaper design on the Air Force Reserve news http www afnews af mil products primer processb htm Effective Newspaper Design Photographs and line art draw readers into the newspaper and entice them to read stories from beginning to end Varied camera angles leading lines dramatic cropping and dominant and supporting photos stop readers in their tracks Photographs feature no more than three people to identify Good stand-alone on the job photos usually focus on one person showing most of his or her face Layout and design elements step readers through the newspaper on an organized easy-to-follow path Headline photo art and copy placement follow conventional newspaper or magazine form Reader speed bumps spot color screens pull quotes drop heads and other devices are infrequent to provide impact when necessary Ineffective Newspaper Design Photographs include close-ups taken from too far away feature a cast of thousands and look like they were taken from a speeding car Cropping is an agricultural term Pictures in a photo feature are as close to the same size as possible so readers will view each one with equal dismay The editor omits cutlines entirely or merely lets readers guess who is in the picture Line art does a better job as filler than as a magnet to stories Readers jump from news to feature to editorial to news to feature to editorial to news to feature to editorial and so on Readers struggle through numerous page jumps copy set wider than the eye was meant to scan paragraphs that contain as many sentences as possible and a mine field of dingbats fillers and trapped white Headlines are all caps down style flush right and centered all under the same department heading Graphic devices such as spot color are applied in much the same manner as a -year-old putting on lipstick for the first time messy and lots of it Students could also analysis the use of various formats or design features employed in newspapers or news websites Students could go on the Newseum site of daily front pages from papers from countries http www newseum org todaysfrontpages and could compare differences in newspapers or websites uses of picture sizes organization of sections uses of certain fonts typeface the number of columns mastheads headlines graphs charts and ads Students could analyze the quality of photojournalism on the Newseum site Photojournalist of the Month examining the photos of award-winning photojournalists http www newseum org photojournalist archive archive htm For further reading Newton J H The burden of visual truth The role of photojournalism in mediating reality Mahwah NJ Lawrence Erlbaum Genre features Students could also examine the genre features employed in a news report For example while stories typically follow the traditional expository format of the -w s who what where when and why writers may employ narrative to frame their stories in an unfolding narrative sequence in an attempt to engage their audiences Many reports often begin with setting the scene in which the reporter describes himself in the context of an event or story I m walking down the street of a quiet suburban neighborhood in which everyone knows everyone else No one ever believed that one of their neighborhoods would have committed such a horrific crime This use of what Norman Fairclough describes as the narrativization of the news focuses more on the dramatic aspects of new events and less on analysis of ideas or larger institutional forces However newspapers readers often are more engaged with such stories particularly because they are familiar with this genre format on television news another instance in which television has changed the newspaper Essay News as narrative uses of narrative form http www transparencynow com news newsform htm Drawing on their analysis of the narrative development in stories or novels students could then analyze the story development techniques employed in news stories which build around the dramatization of the unusual or extraordinary aspects of a news event For example they could determine how the story sets the scene through placing the events in a particular context or setting They could then note the use of language such as repetition of words it was very very dark that night or asides you wouldn t believe what happened next devices employed by storytellers to build suspense in their audiences Lesson Traci Garnder Novel News Broadcast Coverage of Character Conflict Resolution and Setting http www readwritethink org lessons lesson view asp id Writers may also employ the genre of the editorial or op-ed essay or letters to the editor as distinct from the news report story In doing so a writer employs various genre features by clearly formulating an opinion or thesis regarding an issue and provide supporting evidence or data to support that opinion or thesis Students could analyze the effectiveness or persuasiveness of an editorial in terms of the clarity and the quality of the argument Students could also examine the degree to which an editorial or op-ed essay clearly formulate their argument and opinion as well as providing supporting evidence or research For example some op-ed pieces formulate an opinion but provide little evidence or research assuming that their audience will simply respond to the opinions as opposed to considering the evidence or research provided For newspaper editorials http www headlinespot com opinion oped http www toad net andrews columns html Webquest writing editorials on the role of imperialism in Africa http users erols com sespec webquests imperialismafrica ImperialismInAfrica htm Webquest creating a newspaper on the Protestant Reformation http www maxwell syr edu plegal tips t prod gelfandwq html You Be the Editor making editorial decisions about specific stories http www media-awareness ca english resources educational lessons secondary broadcast news you be the editor cfm Another genre includes the political cartoon Students could analyze examples of political cartoons in terms of the techniques employed exaggeration of physical features visual portrayal of an issue parodying of language social practices and portrayal of a certain attitude or stance http cagle slate msn com http www nytimes com pages cartoons http www cartoonweb com Webquest analysis of political cartoons http www lex k sc us chs politicalcartoonpainter htm Studying the language use in news Students could also study the use of language in news Applying semiotic poststructuralist and critical discourse analysis they could analyze the uses of - categories labels to describe participants - syntax active vs passive - formal vs informal verbal style Writers also employ language or style in certain ways that reflects their orientation or objectivity Writers may use metaphors or hyperbolic language to describe an event in a manner that represents a particular attitude toward s that event For example in writing about the Palestinian Israeli conflict a writer may describe one side s bombing or attack as an incursion deadly destruction or massacre descriptions that reflect increasingly stronger beliefs or ideological orientations towards an event For a Webquest analysis of how news coverage of different perspectives on the Arab Israeli conflict http www rapides k la us ash galinsky galinskysite htm Students could note patterns in the language use of a story and then infer the writer s particular perspective or ideological orientation towards an event This includes the types of categories or labels employed to describe participants For example in describing a protest march a writer may describe the participants as vocal protestors or as an unruly mob different categories reflecting different perspectives They could also examine the uses of syntax for example writers uses of the active versus passive voice Writers who wish to portray participants an assuming an active role will place the participants in the subject topic position In reporting on a protest march the writers may state that The protestors charged the police line to focus on the protestors as active agents Or they may state that The police line was charged by the protestors to emphasize the role of the police Students could study uses of language by creating their own parody of news articles similar to those found in The Onion a parody of current news coverage http www theonion com Students could also infer the nature of the intended audiences in terms of the level of an audience s sophistication or prior knowledge Writers may include or omit certain information given their assumptions about their audiences And they could determine whether a writer is attempting to gain an audience s identification with a certain beliefs or perspective For rhetorical analysis methods in analyzing the news http www hu mtu edu mabunce rhetanal html http www rhetorica net http www tengrrl com tens shtml For resources on feminist rhetorical analysis http mattlevy home mindspring com rhetcomp feministrhet html Students could compare language use in the different stories about the same event For example tabloid or weekly newspapers may employ sensational dramatic language as compared to more objective language in mainstream newspapers Students could compare the following two stories on an attack by an Islamic Jihad group on Israelis in Hebron that resulted in the deaths of Israelis The first report appeared in The Sun a British tabloid TWELVE Israeli civilians and soldiers were killed and injured yesterday when Palestinian gunmen opened fire on people leaving a prayer meeting Extremists from the Islamic Jihad group also hurled grenades after worshippers left Sabbath prayers at a shrine in Hebron In the carefully planned ambush soldiers rushing to their aid were also shot in a -minute fire fight An Israeli spokesman said the Palestinians had carried out a Sabbath massacre threatening peace hopes The Israeli regional brigade commander was among the wounded Troops hunted for the terrorists and TV reports said a gun battle erupted as soldiers surrounded a Palestinian home The Israelis were emerging from prayers in the Tomb of the Patriarchs a shrine in central Hebron revered by both Muslims and Jews The gunfire came from a nearby hilltop area Earlier this week a Palestinian gunman killed five people including two young boys on a West Bank kibbutz The second report was from the New York Times Israel Weighs Response After Killed in Hebron Ambush By JAMES BENNET EBRON West Bank Saturday Nov Twelve Israelis were killed here Friday night when Palestinian snipers ambushed Jewish settlers walking home from Sabbath prayers and then attacked the policemen security guards and soldiers who rushed to the rescue the Israeli Army said In a gunfight that raged for more than three hours as Israeli rescue workers struggled to evacuate the wounded from a dusty exposed alley the commander of Israeli forces in this divided city was one of those killed Fifteen people were wounded hospital officials said How many of the dead and wounded were civilians and how many were security forces was not clear early this morning After midnight blazing white flares dropped by an airplane drifted over Hebron illuminating the otherwise dark city Sporadic gunfire echoed off the stone houses as soldiers in battle gear hunted the killers and their accomplices Soldiers shot dead at least three Palestinians whom they identified as the killers Lit by the flashing lights of emergency vehicles two bullet-riddled bodies lay in the dirt near the site of the ambush as soldiers continued to search nearby houses Bloody army gear including a knapsack and a camouflage blanket lay bundled to the side of the lane that became a killing field A jeep belonging to the border police its bulletproof windows cobwebbed by gunshots was loaded onto a truck Over the mosque loudspeakers in Gaza City on Friday evening Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack Leaders of the group called it a blow against occupation and retaliation for Israel's killing last week of Iyad Sawalha a local leader of the group in the West Bank city of Jenin Israeli officials held the Palestinian leadership of Yasir Arafat responsible The pattern is very clear now said Gideon Meir a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry Every time either an American emissary comes to achieve a cease-fire or Israel eases up on the conditions to make life easier for the Palestinian population there is a terrorist attack The Palestinian leadership is holding its own citizens as hostages in order to implement its political aspirations In an enclave surrounded by barbed wire cement blocks and soldiers about Jewish settlers live inside Hebron surrounded by Palestinians The attack Friday night began on Israelis who live just outside Hebron in the settlement of Qiryat Arba the Israeli Army said It started after they had finished praying at the Tomb of the Patriarchs sacred to three religions as the tomb of Abraham In a small group the worshipers walked under a bone-white moon from Hebron's Jewish enclave along a road that winds down into a gully planted with olive trees still in the Israeli-controlled section of the city The road then climbs uphill past Palestinian houses toward the gate of Qiryat Arba Accounts of the attack varied slightly But Israeli officers here said that at snipers began shooting from the gully firing at the worshipers and at a border police jeep that was accompanying them As security guards rushed from Qiryat Arba yards away the Palestinians fell back down the narrow alleyway drawing their pursuers into what soldiers said appeared to have been a carefully planned trap The guards came under withering fire and grenade attack from close range as they entered the alley soldiers said Israeli soldiers led by the local commander arrived at the scene and also entered the alley Officers here said that it was then that the force's commander was shot June Leavitt a resident of Qiryat Arba said her daughter Miriam returned early from praying at the tomb on Friday evening She had a bad feeling Mrs Leavitt said She said the family had just sat down to eat when the gunfire erupted It took a long time to evacuate people because there was a lot of fire she said The Jewish area of Hebron was already marked with memorials to Israeli soldiers settlers and visitors shot dead as they walked prayed and played here But this attack was the most lethal on Israelis in Hebron in the two-year-old conflict Israeli forces have repeatedly seized Palestinian areas of the city only to withdraw eventually to the settlers' consternation Just Friday morning a senior Israeli military official said the army had succeeded in securing Hebron and other southern West Bank cities and as a result was easing restrictions in those areas We succeeded to clean these cities of terrorists he said referring also to Bethlehem Ramallah and Jericho He said the army still needed to concentrate on the northern West Bank cities of Nablus and Jenin Israeli officials immediately labeled Friday night's attack the Sabbath massacre The killings evoked a notorious ambush in Hebron in also on a Sabbath eve in which six Jews were killed Hebron has been a flashpoint for decades In a doctor from Qiryat Arba Baruch Goldstein originally of Brooklyn fired on Muslims at prayer there He killed and wounded before he was beaten to death In Arab residents of Hebron went on a rampage against the city's small Jewish population killing dozens That riot began on a Friday afternoon and lasted into Saturday Early today hours after the attack officials said the Israeli Army conducted a helicopter raid on Gaza City striking a metal shop No injuries were reported Friday night's violence the deadliest Palestinian attack in three weeks came as Mr Arafat's Fatah faction was in negotiations with the militant group Hamas to achieve a limited ban on suicide bombing The ban would apply only to attacks within the pre- borders of Israel not to attacks on soldiers and settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip But Islamic Jihad has not taken part in the talks and leaders of the group interviewed Friday night said they rejected any such ban We're going to continue resistance everywhere Sheik Abdallah al-Shami a political leader of Islamic Jihad said by telephone from hiding in the Gaza Strip We are not committed to any kind of agreements He said of the Hebron attack We are congratulating the Islamic world all Muslims for such a successful operation Even Palestinians who oppose attacks in pre- Israel overwhelmingly support attacks on settlers and soldiers in the West Bank regarding such violence as lawful resistance to occupation Israel does not recognize such distinctions between its citizens on either side of the boundaries and officially neither do Islamic Jihad nor Hamas which consider all of Israel as occupied territory One of the most hard-line political leaders of Hamas Abdel Aziz Rantisi said on Friday night that Hamas would reject even a limited ban on killing All of it is Palestinian land and all of the land is occupied he said We're going to hit everywhere He added Why are our people being killed at the same time the Israelis are living in security in Haifa and Tel Aviv Egypt has been mediating the factional talks in hopes of achieving a bombing ban at least during the run-up to Israeli elections which are planned for late January Mainstream Palestinian officials have warned that violence now would help right-wing Israeli candidates Hamas and Fatah representatives met in Cairo this week Saeb Erekat a close ally of Mr Arafat said before Friday night's violence that it was premature to jump to conclusions about the talks but he called them significant Also speaking before the Hebron attack the senior Israeli military official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity called the mere fact of the Cairo meeting very important He said Egypt was eager to calm the conflict hoping to douse one source of popular discontent in Egypt out of concern that the Bush administration would fan another one with a possible war on Iraq The story in The Sun emphasizes the bare-bones events of the killings it also included two large photos of the events In contrast the New York Times story provided a sense of alternative versions of the event as reflected in the statement accounts of the attack varied slightly It also provided extensive historical and political contexts for the events While these two stories reflect differences in audiences they also reflect different code systems The code system in The Sun s coverage emphasizes a narrative recounting of events with little sense of the institutional forces shaping the event The New York Times s coverage emphasizes the competing institutional forces shaping the event forces that its readers may have more knowledge of or interest in given their own institutional status knowledge in society By analyzing language use students can then determine writers rhetorical strategies and the underlying ideological orientation of a particular story as reflecting the larger perspective or bias of a newspaper or writer Activity On-line Writing Role Play To study rhetorical strategies employed in writing students could participate in a writing role play at an on-line chat site such as nicenet org or tappedin org see Module Students select an issue that concerns them in the school context for example differences in funding of school athletics based on gender or the censoring of certain books magazines Or they may organize a role play around a political campaign election They then assume certain roles associated with this issue or election They then adopt a role and write messages or on-line messages targeted to other roles in an attempt to persuade them to support their position or cause They can also write letters to the editor of the newspaper At the end of the role play a panel of students assuming the roles of school board members or voters make a final decision based on the messages they have received Students adopt the roles of a television reporter and a newspaper reporter and seek to determine what is going on in the role play by posing questions of different roles and then posting summary news flashes The purpose of this activity is to provide texts for students analysis of writers use of rhetorical strategies and arguments within the context of a shared activity or community Because they are familiar with that community as constructed through language they can analyze how language is used to construct roles establish status power gain alliances seek others' identification with one's cause influence actions and project certain persona After completing the role play they reflect on intentions or purpose in writing the message what were you trying to say to your audience and what were you trying to do the speech acts you were performing such as asserting a position making a request attempt to persuade threatening challenging etc perceptions of the intended audience you were addressing their own purposes or agendas status power within the role play alignments to groups or beliefs in your ability to perform certain acts use of language style to create a certain persona or role that would appeal to this intended audience see the references to language use in the handout--the mock grant proposal for an inner-city ice cream stand This includes the use of various slogans or euphemisms-- big government Washington corporate greed liberal it's your money not the government's accountability etc use of rhetorical strategies to gain the intended audience s support or identification with your cause beliefs establishing a shared relationship As a loyal constituent who has voted for you in the past as someone who has made significant financial contributions to your campaign This includes creating various categories that audiences may or may not identify with and then equating those categories with certain positive or negative practices For example you the people is used to seek identification with voters in opposition to big government whom people are supposed to dislike use of evidence or support for your arguments opinions or generalizations--the degree to which your arguments were valid and employed any supporting evidence versus misleading or distorted evidence the extent to which your messages did or did not influence or shape others actions beliefs or opinions and reasons for those effects which roles in the role play your perceived as assuming the most power or influence Differences in Types and Uses of News Audiences may different in their perceptions of what constitutes news depending on their preferred means of accessing the news There has been a decline in the number of local daily newspapers currently about half the number from those published in As reported by the Newspaper Association of American the percentage of readers who read daily newspapers declined from in to in http www naa org artpage cfm AID SID Most audiences acquire their news from television news and or radio as opposed to newspapers However audiences are turning away from TV or radio news as well as newpapers to acquire news from the Web for a list of Web-based news sites http socialstudies com c DDmr U NvGbA Pages article html article news Students could also compare and constrast the wide range of different types of newspapers school college local community tabloid regional and national newspapers For a large number of news news analysis links designed for CI http www tc umn edu rein News news html They could also examine how newspapers differ according to - the type of town or community they represent For example the some Minnesota newspapers reflect a range of different size communities and regions http dir yahoo com News and Media Newspapers By Region U S States Minnesota Complete List - the country represented front pages from newspapers in countries http www newseum org todaysfrontpages newspapers from around the world http www onlinenewspapers com - the cultures and groups who create newspapers http dir yahoo com News and Media Newspapers Cultures and Groups - differences between mainstream and tabloid newspapers http dir yahoo com Entertainment News and Media Magazines Tabloids http www nationalenquirer com or alternative weekly newspapers http uk dir yahoo com news and media newspapers alternative newsweeklies - differences in the political ideology reflected in the newspapers for example The Weekly Standard a conservative paper http www weeklystandard com versus Mother Jones News a liberal left paper http www mojones com motherjones html On-line News One of the major shifts in news is the recent increased use of on-line news particularly amongst younger audiences For links to all Twin Cities news outlets http www cursor org twin cities htm For links to all top on-line newpapers http newslink org toptypes html The New York Times http www nytimes com The Washington Post http www washingtonpost com The Los Angeles Times http www latimes com USAToday http www usatoday com The Atlanta Journal-Constitution http www ajc com The Dallas Morning News http www dallasnews com The Boston Globe http www boston com The Chicago Tribune http www chicagotribune com Time Magazine http www time com Yahoo News Online http news yahoo com u Part of the increased used of on-line news is related to an overall increased use of the Internet A summer survey by Yahoo indicated that audiences ages - reported higher uses of the Internet than television in terms of overall time use results that may be biased given the sponsor of the study Yahoo This study reported that the average weekly uses hours online excluding email hours watching TV hours listening to the radio hours talking on the phone Six hours reading books and magazines personal not scholastic http www mediapost com dtls dsp news cfm newsID Another study conducted in by researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles found that reading the news is the third most popular Internet activity with of users going online to get news information A primary reason for use of on-line news was that they obtained the information quickly and efficiently on their own terms At the same time users also relied on other sources for news Only about half of users believes that the news information was reliable and accurate depending on the site with sites operated by television radio magazine and newspaper organizations being perceived as more reliable and accurate than sites operated by individuals or other organizations http www ccp ucla edu pages internet-report asp Web-based news provides for user selection control of stories information Users can therefore focus their attention on accessing only the information relevant to their own interests purposes and needs Users can seek further information or previous stories to explore background context about the original story Stories can also be continually updated to provide the most current information In some cases Web-based news sites are interactive with users completing survey votes providing e-mail responses or participating in listserve discussion or Weblogs related to a story On the other hand the fact that users can selectively choose the information they want means that they may only be exposed to that selected information They are therefore not exposed to other information they might have been exposed to had they been reading a newspaper or watching a news broadcast They may also not be exposed to alternative beliefs and opinions on newspaper editorial pages At the same time the Web-based news has served to re-mediate Bolter Grusin television and newspaper news http www lcc gatech edu Ebolter remediation index html as evident in how cable television news provides a constant stream of news items on the bottom of the screen or newspapers continually reference Web sites Web-based news also provides users with links to other related sources or articles Despite the initial pessimism about the success of on-line versions of newspapers newspapers have received increased revenues from on-line advertising Moreover on-line newspapers have increased in use and popularity However some on-line newspapers are beginning to restrict access to only newspaper subscribers This re-mediation of the newspaper has also led to changes in newspapers and other news outlets Audiences can participate in an interactive mode with some news sites in which they engage in a simulation survey or game related to an issue or share views with others The Institute for Interactive Journalism at the University of Maryland gives out The Batten Awards every year to honor examples of what it perceives to be uses of technology to involve people in the news In it give an award to the Minnesota Public Radio's Budget Balancer site http news mpr org features newsroom budgetsim On this site audiences had to decide on how to balance the state s budget in terms of cutting certain programs and or raising taxes given a four billion dollar deficit For a discussion of the innovative nature of this site see http www j-lab org budget article html For the others award-winning sites http www j-lab org coolb html In a study conducted for the Associated Press Managing Editors the Pew Center for Civic Journalism and the National Conference of Editorial Writers by the Campaign Study Group Journalism Interactive New Attitudes Tools and Techniques Change Journalism's Landscape http www pewcenter org doingcj research r interact html editors report an increased demand for interactivity with readers a finding consistent with the notion of audiences increasing participation as active agents in the mediascape described in Module In looking for ways to foster greater interaction Eight out of newspapers represented in the study provide readers with one or more options for obtaining the e-mail addresses of reporters Nearly eight out of have established e-mail voice-mail or Web site tip lines More than seven out of newspapers offer readers one or more avenues other than letters to the editor for publishing their own ideas More than four out of publish the telephone numbers of the reporters with every story and more than one-quarter post some or all of their reporters' telephone numbers on a Web site Fifty-six percent have convened conversations about a key community issue outside of the newsroom More than seven out of editors feel dissatisfied with the current level of newsroom-reader interaction Forty-five percent of all editors surveyed say that their newsrooms use the tools and techniques of civic journalism Sixty-six percent say they either embrace the label or like the philosophy and tools suggesting that there are even more practitioners Eighty-seven percent of the editors surveyed agreed that newspapers should have a broader community role beyond just printing the news When asked about six specific roles that a newspaper might play in its community editors ranked the role of news explainer above all others Following in order were the roles of news breaker investigative watchdog catalyst for community conversation community steward and disseminator of just the facts When combined the percentage of editors who prize the non-traditional roles of conversation catalyst and community steward actually topped the number who place their highest value on the investigative role On-line news can also be tailored to specific audiences Students could contrast news devised specifically for a student audience for example the CNN student news http learning turner com newsroom index html and news designed for an adult audience on the same site http www cnn com On advantage of using on-line newspapers is that students can readily compare the differences in the same stories across different forms determining differences in the depth quality nature of information and understanding gained For example in the following Webquest students compare the same story as reported by three different wire services http www scs unr edu kgibson work cep webquest htm They could also compare same story coverage or editorials in different types of papers from liberal to conservative or urban to small-town papers In making these comparisons they could examine the nature and type of information that is included or excluded In studying op-ed pages they could determine the types of political or ideological perspectives most versus least frequently included Unit comparing news across different media http www media-awareness ca english resources educational lessons secondary broadcast news news lesson cfm For further reading Gunter G News and the Net Mahwah NJ Lawrence Erlbaum Web-based Political Lobbying One of the important recent developments in politics in the increased use of web-based political lobbying by organizations such as MoveOn http www moveon org who alert members through e-mails about certain issues and then have them go to web sites to send messages to Congress on that issue One such issue for which they lobbied was the vote in the House of Representatives in July of to block implementation of the FCC s attempt to allow a single corporation to own television stations that reach up to percent of American viewers For an analysis of the role of these organizations particularly MoveOn by John Nichols in The Nation http www thenation com thebeat index mhtml bid pid Weblogs Another recent development noted also in Module is the increased use of Web logs more commonly referred to as blogs on-line personal commentaries often related to recent news events and in some cases written by reporters during their spare time One of the reason for the increased use of blogs is that participants are not constrained by concern with having to conform to the commercial or political pressures associated with mainstream media outlets as well as constraints on length of articles or TV news broadcasts Participants also can continually reference intertextual links by including URL s to provide readers with background or alternative perspectives through links to on-line news stories or to other blogs For summaries of blog reports http www cursor org toc htm For links to Twin City blog sites http www cursor org twin cities htm The site contains a video clip in which some bloggers share their thoughts about blogging http www pbs org wnet mediamatters blogs html One survey conducted in summer http dijest com bc found the three most active blog sites that are centrally hosted are Registered Active As of LiveJournal June http www livejournal com Blogger June http new blogger com home pyra DiaryLand March http www diaryland com Another popular site is tblog http tblog com Another survey indicated that blog readers currently comprise only four percent of the online community and blog creators only two percent http www jupiterresearch com bin item pl mkt feat research jup pos Web Tools for Educators Information Today Inc Jan Feb http www infotoday com MMSchools jan richardson shtml Will Richardson s Blog http www Weblogg-ed com Center for Technology and Teacher Education blogging activities http www teacherlink org content blog Skip Dobson s blog on blogging in Ohio schools http dodsonbrown weblogs com Meg Hourihan What We re Doing When We Blog http www oreillynet com pub a javascript megnut html Xanga http www xanga com The Web and Politics The Web has assumed an increasingly important role in politics Candidates have employed the Web to both promote their views and raise money Web sites also provide voters with information about different candidates their donor contributions and issue analysis Organizations and political parties sponsoring certain candidates also use the Web to promote their causes and organize voter turnout Much of the appeal of the Web in political arenas is it allows for a grass-roots participation by people who may not necessarily having been involved otherwise People can not only continually follow what is happening in a campaign but also they can participate through online input chats blogs and contributions http www vote-smart org http www pollingreport com http www politics com http www purepolitics com http www cnn com allpolitics http www pbs org elections http www politicalinformation com The Online Journalism site Sponsored by the USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review http www onlinejournalism com topics index php For further reading on on-line journalism De Wold R Introduction to online journalism Publishing news and information Boston MA Allyn and Bacon Hall J Online journalism A critical primer Sterling VA Pluto Press Pavlik J V Journalism and new media New York Columbia University Press The Missouri Group Telling the story Writing for print broadcast and on-line media Boston Bedford St Martin s Editorial Perspectives Another key component of the news are editorials Newspapers contain the paper s own editorials as well as op-ed columns reflecting alternative perspectives on the news In many cases people in power often have an advantage in having their views expressed in the op-ed editorials Newspapers attempt to promote expressions of alternative ideological perspectives for their op-ed pages in some cases such as USA Today providing alternative perspectives on the same topic Many think-tanks provide newspapers with op-ed pieces designed to promote their particular ideological perspectives The editorial content of a newspaper may not necessarily be consistent with the kinds and nature of reporting The Wall Street Journal has a relatively conservative editorial stance but their news reporting is not necessarily influenced by that stance Editorials themselves can be newsworthy in terms of shaping events The PBS program Words of War http www pbs org wnet mediamatters words html cites the example of editorials related to the Bush administration s policy in initiating the Iraq War The ongoing battle over the proposed war broke out when The New York Times ran a story in July detailing an insider's misgivings over secret plans for the invasion of Iraq and reached a fever pitch after Brent Scowcroft's Wall Street Journal column criticized invasion plans Some believe the press was too deferential for too long Whenever you have a popular president the news media are hesitant and often inhibited in terms of raising questions about what he says states Michael Massing media critic and contributor to The Nation On the other hand Weekly Standard editor William Kristol claims that we have had more of a debate about this than most of the major foreign policy choices that administrations have faced in recent years Many have pointed out that President Bush's speech at the United Nations was at least in part a response to the press' contribution to the debate The site also contains a video clip of Doyle McManus of the L A TIMES commenting on media perceptions of debate within the Bush administration as well as examples of editorials related to preparations for other previous wars For further reading Gilboa E Ed Media and conflict Framing issues making policy shaping opinions Ardsley NY Transnational Publishers Newspaper Ownership Another major trend in newspapers is the increased concentration of newspaper ownership by corporate conglomerates For example the largest owner The Gannett Company owns daily newspapers and television stations http www gannett com web gan htm The second largest owner Knight-Ridder Digital owns daily newspapers as well as local and regional Web sites in cities including of the top U S markets http www kri com In ten companies owned newspapers with a distribution of more than half of all readers Staubhaar LaRose One danger in this increased concentration of ownership is the decline of any competition for news within local markets With the drop in the number of different newspapers in a particular local area there is less demand on newspapers to have to compete Moreover as newspapers and television stations own each other they may combine their operations as is the case with the newspaper and television station in Tampa Florida All of the results in a decline in the number and nature of alternative cultural and political perspectives as local owners are more beholden to absent corporate owners to avoid controversy that might jeopardize profits This increased concentration is a result of the further deregulation of ownership rules passed under the Communications Act by Congress as well as efforts by the FCC in to further relax the number of newspapers and stations that could be owned by the same owner The current rules prevent one network from owning another network limit the number of stations owned by one owner prohibit owning both a local cable and TV station and prohibit owning both newspaper and TV station The corporations applied considerable pressure on the FCC through campaign contributions paid junkets and intense lobbying of FCC members to loosen these rules including rules related to ownership of radio stations which as was noted in Module has also seen an increased concentration by owners such as Clear Channel Corporation For more information on newspaper ownership the PBS program NOW with Bill Moyers has been covering this issue in many of its programs http www pbs org now politics bigmedia html For a list of which owners own what media http www pbs org now politics mediaconsol html In the Education Media Foundation video Rich Media Poor Democracy for a video clip http www mediaed org videos CommercialismPoliticsAndMedia RichMediaPoorDemocracy Robert McChesney examines the ways in which journalism has been compromised by a focus on sensationalism and lack of investigative reporting by the conglomerates such as Disney Sony Viacom News Corp and Time Warner And in another Education Media Foundation video The Myth of the Liberal Media The Propaganda Model of News Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman for a video clip http www mediaed org videos CommercialismPoliticsAndMedia TheMythoftheLiberalMedia present their propaganda model of the news related to attempts by corporate and conservative interests to propagate their own ideological perspectives in news content and coverage In their book Manufacturing Consent they define this model as functioning to filter the news in certain ways http www thirdworldtraveler com Herman Manufac Consent Prop Model html A propaganda model focuses on this inequality of wealth and power and its multilevel effects on mass-media interests and choices It traces the routes by which money and power are able to filter out the news fit to print marginalize dissent and allow the government and dominant private interests to get their messages across to the public The essential ingredients of our propaganda model or set of news filters fall under the following headings I the size concentrated ownership owner wealth and profit orientation of the dominant mass-media firms advertising as the primary income source of the mass media the reliance of the media on information provided by government business and experts funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power flak as a means of disciplining the media and anticommunism as a national religion and control mechanism These elements interact with and reinforce one another The raw material of news must pass through successive filters leaving only the cleansed residue fit to print They fix the premises of discourse and interpretation and the definition of what is newsworthy in the first place and they explain the basis and operations of what amount to propaganda campaigns The elite domination of the media and marginalization of dissidents that results from the operation of these filters occurs so naturally that media news people frequently operating with complete integrity and goodwill are able to convince themselves that they choose and interpret the news objectively and on the basis of professional news values Within the limits of the filter constraints they often are objective the constraints are so powerful and are built into the system in such a fundamental way that alternative bases of news choices are hardly imaginable For a Noam Chomsky essay on studying the news media http www zmag org chomsky articles z -mainstream-media html The Noam Chomsky Archive http www zmag org chomsky index cfm Another factor influencing the increasingly conservative ideological focus of news editorial orientation particularly on op-ed pages is the rise in influence of conservative think-tanks shaping news As documented by Trudy Lieberman in Slanting the Story The Forces That Shape the News New Press conservative think tanks and organizations such as the The Heritage Foundation http www heritage org The American Enterprise Institute http www aei org The Manhattan Institute http www manhattan-institute org The Hoover Institution http www-hoover stanford edu The Fordham Foundation http www edexcellence net The Cato Institute http www cato org The National Taxpayers Institute http www ntu org The Center for Education Reform http edreform com Center for the American Experiment Minnesota http www amexp org Minnesota Taxpayers League Minnesota http www taxpayersleague org Minnesota Education League Minnesota http www taxpayersleague org educationleague php There are also liberal think tanks although as Lieberman documents they have lost the clout and influence they enjoyed in the s The Brookings Institute http www brook edu Center for National Policy http www cnponline org National Democratic Institute http www ndi org As Lieberman documents these think tanks and organizations have acquired public relations and promotional skills at framing issues for the media in conservative terms They consistently provide newspapers and policy makers with material and research often in the form of research reports or surveys that give the appearance of being nonpartisan and scholarly The also provide newspapers with op-ed essays as well as spokespersons and experts who can be reached for comments or quotes in news articles Conservative critics of the Profile also cited failing report card reports issued by The Fordham Foundation a conservative education organization that argues for the need for more traditional content standards that could be measured with tests leading to increased accountability Lieberman notes that these think tanks and organizations are successful because they formulate definite unambiguous messages which they then repeat particularly regarding the failures of liberal causes as well as the liberal media For a critique of the idea that the media are too liberal see Eric Altermann What Liberal Media The Truth about Bias and the News Basic Books http www whatliberalmedia com Through this repetition they can frame issues in their own terms As a result legislators have been able to pass various policies consistent with a more conservative agenda These think tanks and organizations received support from corporations to lobby for their interests corporations who would prefer not to known as directly lobbying for their own benefits They are largely funded by corporations who prefer that groups other than themselves promote their agendas For example when the Clinton health care model was proposed in the Heritage Foundation launched a major campaign to discredit the plan through providing newspapers with editorials and through television ads Much of the funding for this work emanated from the insurance and pharmaceutical corporations who would be adversely affected by a national health insurance plan Lieberman cites the example of an attack on the Federal Drug Administration which succeeding in loosening FDA regulation of drug advertising and testing of new drugs Various think-tanks began to circulate stories to the media about drugs being withheld from the market by FDA delays and regulations drugs that would save people s lives but were not available due to deadly overcaution They also criticized the FDA for its bureaucratic delay in testing drug safety And they posited the need to cut back on labeling of supplements an emerging business They provided newspapers with reports on drugs and health issues that cited their own polls of doctors who complained the that FDA approval process was too slow All of this had a major influence on public opinion regarding the FDA which was perceived to be preventing useful drugs from coming onto the market They also had a major hand in writing a bill in Congress that loosed FDA regulations The FDA Modernization and Accountability Act of that passed Congress After the bill went into effect the FDA had to recall five different drugs that were prematurely approved and turned out to be dangerous There was a marked increase in drug advertising particularly on television a increase from to in which there was billion in drug advertising some of which had previously had not been allowed to air on television The advertising itself was often misleading now that restrictions had been lifted This resulted in patients telling doctors that they need new drugs and an increase in drug sales In The Educational Media Foundation video Constructing Public Opinion How Politicians and the Media Misrepresent the Public Justin Lewis for a video clip http www mediaed org videos CommercialismPoliticsAndMedia ConstructingPublicOpinion describes the ways in which the media use polling data to not simply reflect public opinion but to also shape and construct public opinion in ways that are consistent with the agendas of power elites and the corporations that own the media The Center for Media and Democracy s PRWatch site http www prwatch org analyzes government and political public relations campaigns Media ownership and intellectual property Another important issue related to news and media ownership has to do with the ways publishing corporations limit distribution of content through copyright laws While copyright is an important legal protection at the same time copyright law can be used to limit distribution and authors right to circulate that information These issues are discussed in a free online book copy of Lawrence Lessing s Free Culture How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity Penguin Press http www free-culture org freecontent Freedom of the press Another primary issue has to do with the declining freedom of the press due to government attempts to control limit or censor news A global survey of freedom of the press in countries conducted in by Freedom House Freedom of the Press A Global Survey of Media Independence found that freedom of the press declined throughout the world The study indicated that were rated free partly free and not free Some of these declines were related to a decline in democratic governments in countries such a Bolivia Russia and even Italy in which Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi owns Italy's three largest private television stations The worst offenders were Burma Cuba Libya North Korea and Turkmenistan http www thestate com mld thestate news nation htm http www thestate com mld thestate news nation htm News Bias An important focus for analysis of the news is new bias the degree to which a writer adopts an objective un-biased stance as a neutral journalist who is presenting different alternative perspectives on a topic or issue In some cases writers may present only one biased perspective or leave out information related to alternative perspectives They may also emphasize certain aspects of an event while disregarding other aspects of an event Media-Awareness Bias in the News http www media-awareness ca english resources educational lessons secondary broadcast news bw bias in the news lesson cfm The FAIR Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting site provides some criteria for detecting bias in news http www fair org activism detect html The following is an edited version of these criteria Who are the sources Media over-rely on official government corporate and establishment think tank sources Is there a lack of diversity FAIR's -month survey of Nightline found its U S guests to be percent white and percent male A similar survey of PBS's NewsHour found its guestlist was percent white and percent male From whose point of view is the news reported For example many stories on parental notification of abortion emphasized the tough choice confronting male politicians while quoting no women under --those with the most at stake in the debate Economics coverage usually looks at how events impact stockholders rather than workers or consumers Are there double standards Youth of color who commit crimes are referred to as superpredators whereas adult criminals who commit white-collar crimes are often portrayed as having been tragically been led astray Think tanks partly funded by unions are often identified as labor-backed while think tanks heavily funded by business interests are usually not identified as corporate-backed Do stereotypes skew coverage Does coverage of the drug crisis focus almost exclusively on African Americans despite the fact that the vast majority of drug users are white Does coverage of women on welfare focus overwhelmingly on African-American women despite the fact that the majority of welfare recipients are not black What are the unchallenged assumptions Often the most important message of a story is not explicitly stated For instance in coverage of women on welfare the age at which a woman had her first child will often be reported the implication being that the woman's sexual promiscuity rather than institutional economic factors are responsible for her plight Is the language loaded For instance media often use the right-wing buzzword racial preference to refer to affirmative action programs Polls show that this decision makes a huge difference in how the issue is perceived A Louis Harris poll for example found that percent said they favored affirmative action while only percent favored racial preference programs Is there a lack of context Coverage of so-called reverse discrimination usually fails to focus on any of the institutional factors which gives power to prejudices such as larger issues of economic inequality and institutional racism Do the headlines and stories match Usually headlines are not written by the reporter Since many people just skim headlines misleading headlines have a significant impact Are stories on important issues featured prominently Newspaper articles on the most widely read pages the front pages and the editorial pages and lead stories on television and radio will have the greatest influence on public opinion A biased slanted analysis of an event can be evident in how writers or their editors select or omit certain topics or quotes formulate headlines use photos or employ data such as statistics or crowd counts On the one hand some journalists argue that it is essential for writers to adopt an objective un-biased stance in order to maintain a sense of credibility with readers If readers believed that the writer was reporting events based on their own ideological perspective or political agenda they would discount the information presented On the other hand other journalists argue that achieving total objectivity is difficult if not impossible particularly for reporters who are covering controversial or political events and that writers should make explicit their own perspectives or agendas in their reporting A Teacher Teaches About Bias Heather Johnson a teacher at North St Paul High School in North St Paul Minnesota whose advertising unit is contained in Module teaches her students to analyze the news for instances of bias related to race To begin her instruction she asks students to examine common features inherent in news reports related to bias Here is one exercise Write the following on the chalkboard Police said the suspect was described as a black man in his s Indian Found Murdered in New Town Detectives are investigating the death of an Asian employee of a brokerage firm whose body was found by the company's owner yesterday Ask your students What do these news stories have in common When is race an appropriate element in a story Are the racial identifications used in these stories relevant Why or why not What are the problems surrounding unwarranted use of racial identity in crime-related stories Based on the student s responses she then provides them with some concepts for critically examining bias and then asks students to apply that concept to a story about race note the way in which she uses web sites as resources Bias through placement Readers of papers judge first page stories to be more significant than those buried in the back Television and radio newscasts run the most important stories first and leave the less significant for later Where a story is placed therefore influences what a reader or viewer thinks about its importance Unwarranted use of racial identity is hardly limited to crime stories One way for reporters to check whether race or ethnicity is a proper identification factor in a story might be to ask whether the individual's race would be relevant if he or she were white Would the headlines above have identified these people as 'white' Distribute Crime has no culture or race to students Crime has no culture or race by Susan Riley The Ottawa Citizen http www canada com ottawa ottawacitizen January Reprinted with permission If racism was always stark violent and overt it would be easy to recognize and easier to deal with But unfortunately racism can be mild and unremarkable part of the daily texture of our lives Over the holiday for example three men were stabbed in a late-night brawl in the Saigon Capital restaurant on Somerset Street The restaurant is Vietnamese those involved in the fracas were of Asian origin Does this make it Asian crime as headlines in our newspaper and elsewhere suggested Does the fact that some extortion was involved make the crime particularly Asian And what Asians Vietnamese Chinese Indonesian Or was it merely crime Is any attempt to define it further careless prejudice or is it a vital aspect of competent police work Last fall when Ottawa high school students were involved in a drunken encounter with Hull police no one talked about white crime To be fair a story in the Citizen concluded that there is no crime wave within Ottawa's Asian community It also documented real concerns in Asian communities in Toronto and Vancouver where thugs and drug-peddlers prey on their own kind and the larger society But this still isn't Asian crime It is crime within the Asian community The distinction is critical The Citizen story also quoted a Vietnamese-born lawyer Nhung Thuy Hoang who defends Asian-Canadians accused of various crimes The most common charges according to her Theft and wife assault These don't sound like Asian crimes on the contrary they are common to almost every culture Imagine the uproar if we started referring to wife abuse as male crime For all that the Asian community does pose a special challenge to police forces not because Asians are more mendacious by nature but because their language and culture is so foreign In Vancouver and Toronto police have had special Asian investigative units since the s Newspapers occasionally feature lurid accounts of their struggles with Asian youth gangs that operate protection rackets smuggle drugs and manage prostitutes Again the language is loaded If a group of Asian boys wearing leather chains and aggressive attitude shoves you of the sidewalk is it an Asian youth gang or just a bunch of punks Ottawa too has an Asian unit formed in the only squad devoted to one ethnic community Its professed aim is to assist rather than target Asian-Canadians Nhung Thuy Hoang applauds this approach noting that a lot of police are not very familiar with our culture She recalls one client a Vietnamese woman who was charged when she burned dry leaves in a city park - a common practice in her native country Other Vietnamese are charged with abandonment when they let their children wander at large as they used to in refugee camps Still others are mortified when their custom of showing children physical affection is interpreted by non-Asian neighbors as child abuse There is says the lawyer no need for protection from youth gangs within Ottawa's Asian community But there is need for educated sensitive policing What she is talking about of course is the other side of racism a respectful recognition of difference Only when we - the police and society at large - achieve that will Asian crime disappear In her article Susan Riley makes the distinction between Asian crime and crime within the Asian community What is the difference between these two terms Why are we so quick to label crime with terms like Asian crime Black crime Youth crime etc What role does culture play in our perceptions of race and crime Distribute Crime not black and white to students Crime not black and white by Randall Denley The Ottawa Citizen http www ottawacitizen com Thursday July Reprinted with permission Sometimes to see an issue right way up you need to stand it on its head Imagine a story that read like this Ottawa police are swamped in their attempts to stem a wave of crime that ranges from fraud to dealing drugs to murder There's one common thread in all of this says Ottawa Police Chief Brian Ford In each case the criminals are white While statistics on crime are not recorded by race Ottawa police estimate that fully per cent of crimes committed locally are by whites Police are calling for the hiring of more white officers to help them better understand the customs of the white criminals Ford who is white is frank about the racial element in the crime spree Some of these families have been in Canada for generations The scary part is the criminals look just like you or me Police sources say that white criminals often wear sports gear or even business suits but there is no distinctive dress code that could alert potential victims to the presence of a white criminal Spokesmen for local whites were shocked by the numbers but defensive Jacquelin Holzman is a member of Ottawa City Council an all white group that is believed to exert considerable influence within the white community She goes by the street name The Mayor Certainly the white people I know are the exception here Holzman said Land developers lobbyists people like that All fine citizens We sometimes forget about them when the media write another story about white crime '' The figures on white crime are stunning spectacular stupendous'' said Counsellor Richard Cannings Cannings who is white is proposing a series of one-way streets and road closings to keep white criminals out of his ward Some criminologists question whether race is the dominating factor in determining criminal activity pointing to poverty and lack of jobs If government could find a way to put white people to work many wouldn't need to turn to crime says Prof John Smith Spokesmen for Canada's native peoples were relieved that the white crime problem has finally been brought out into the open We want genealogical testing done on these people so they can be deported to their homelands Let England and Ireland deal with their own problems said one Sounds silly when you put it that way doesn't it Almost as silly as having to seriously discuss the notion that because some blacks are criminals all blacks are no good We have read in the last few days about Jamaican posses the latest ethnic crime threat Now Jamaican-Canadians have to defend themselves again Like when Ben Johnson the famous Canadian runner became a Jamaican again after he used steroids Like when Clinton Gayle accused of murdering a Toronto police officer became a Jamaican although he has lived in this country since he was eight One has to feel sorry for Jamaican-Canadians coping with the exaggerated publicity and no doubt fearing the white crime wave too By using these two examples to illustrate how to analyze for bias in terms of racial identification Heather is modeling this process for students in order that they can now go off and complete the next assignment asking them to analyze similar examples in their own reading of newspapers and magazines Over the next month students are to collect newspaper and magazine stories relating to crime As these articles are brought to class students will analyze and sort them under the following categories No racial identification Relevant racial identification Unnecessary racial identification Where racial identification occurs they will also take note of Tools and techniques used in reporting the story The tone of the story The overall effect on the reader At the end of the month students will tally and post their total figures Taking Charge - Students can send their results to the magazines and newspapers they surveyed For articles that contained unnecessary racial identification students may wish to contact the editor responsible to request an explanation of the newspaper or magazine's rationale for making this distinction Students may also examine the discourses or ideologies constituting the news production itself The following analysis of journalists ideological assumptions reflects their own discourses operating in their news reporting http www transparencynow com news Ideol htm public figures have an obligation to answer to journalists and answer their questions the news media is the fourth estate playing a watchdog role on government and power the most important thing journalists cover are the arenas of government and politics that journalists are the messenger only that they report rather than acting there is an objective account of events that all reasonable observers would agree with that journalists should tell both sides that journalists can and should leave their biases out of their stories that there is no staging or conspiring to improve on stories between journalists and those they cover Webquest analysis of the truth http valhalla guhsd net library webquest somewhereinmid html Webquest analysis of racial hypocrisy in news presentations http www kn pacbell com wired fil pages webracialhos html Students could also become familiar with different watch-dog organizations that analyze or critique the news News links http www nuatc org resources weblinks media html News about the news http www newslab org Media Channel critiques of the news http www mediachannel org Minnesota News Channel http www mtn org newscncl Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting http www fair org Project for Excellence in Journalism http www journalism org Grade the News evaluating of Bay Area news http www stanford edu group gradethenews For further reading Hachten W A The troubles of journalism A critical look at what's right and wrong with the press Mahwah N J Erlbaum Hart R P Sparrow B H Eds Politics discourse and American society New agendas Lanham MD Rowman Littlefield Kovach B Rosnestiel T The elements of journalism What newspeople should know and the public should expect New York Crown Publishers Lex S Ed Access denied in the information age New York Palgrave Nord D P Communities of journalism A history of American newspapers and their readers Urbana University of Illinois Press Sieb P M The global journalist News and conscience in a world of conflict Lanham MD Rowman Littlefield Studying and Producing Classroom School Newspapers Having studied about newspapers students could then create their own classroom newspaper or contribute to the school newspaper Students could study their own school newspaper or other on-line school newspapers for either their classroom or for the entire school http dir yahoo com Education K Newspapers Individual School Papers http www highschooljournalism org students schoolinf index cfm http directory google com Top News Newspapers Student High School United States They could then analyze these papers in terms of the quality of the design features employed layout columns font size use of photos headlines photo captions white space etc Students could then compare the quality of the layout design of different school papers based on specific design features They could then write a series of stories essays or even short fiction poems and then create a classroom newspaper based on certain design features using software to combine the different texts and adding headlines and photos with captions In helping students design a classroom paper teachers could integrate student production of final projects reports or essays into a published classroom paper for peers and parents For further activities related to newspaper production http highschooljournalism org teachers LessonPlan Display cfm Type L LessonplanId AuthorId Minneapolis Star Tribune Writing the news story http www startribune com education writing shtml Bangkok Post Writing feature stories http www bangkokpost net education tchfeat htm Unit creating a school newspaper http commtechlab msu edu sites letsnet noframes bigideas b b u html Jteacher com lots of on-line resources related to school journalism http www jteacher com High School Journalism lots of teacher units on all aspects of news http www highschooljournalism org teachers lessonplan index cfm SNN Student Magazine A Canadian Magazine by Student Reporters http www snn-rdr ca snn moned html Censorship and First Amendment rights related to school newspaper Students could also discuss issues of school newspaper production with members of the school newspaper staff One major issue has to do with freedom of the press related to potential censorship of controversial stories by the school administration Students could examine various legal concepts associated with First Amendment freedom of the press Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances In writing for high school newspapers students are often subject to potential censorship of coverage of stories or issues that the school administration may perceive to be controversial or challenging their school policies Because students are also subject to their disciplinary control they are highly vulnerable to potential censorship threats For teaching units from The Media and American Democracy site on First Amendment issues http www teachingdemocracy gse harvard edu Lesson plans from Newseum for teaching about First Amendment Rights http www newseum org educationcenter teachingtools index htm Freedom Forum a organization addressing First Amendment issues http www freedomforum org Webquest Freedom of the press related to school newspapers http www plainfield k in us hschool webq webq free htm Lots of journalism units activities http www edhelper com cat htm http highschooljournalism org teachers lessonplan index cfm Studying Television News Students could also study television news contrasting it with other sources for news Television news particularly local news has become a major revenue source for local television stations It has therefore assumed an increasing prominence in terms of local stations promotion and function within a local community And most Americans acquire their news from television news although as previously noted in terms of increased used of web-based news is changing One study for the Local TV News Project reported by Todd Belt Viewers Keep Disappearing http www journalism org resources research reports localTV disappearing asp found a decline in audience viewing of local television news broadcasts In our first year of studying the ratings trends of local newscasts two thirds of the stations in our study were experiencing declines in viewership By that number had increased to Between November and November when the aftermath of September th dominated the airwaves local news viewership fell seven percent even while network news gained viewers But the viewership declines are not the same across the board there are differences by network affiliation market size and time slot To begin with one of the three major networks - ABC - is experiencing bigger ratings losses than its competitors In our sample of stations affiliated with ABC lost viewers compared with of those affiliated with CBS and of those with NBC One strong possibility for this decline is the well-publicized problems ABC has had in prime time since its acquisition by Disney in The second trend we found was that stations in larger markets were more likely to be losing viewers than those in smaller markets Dividing the country into four parts according to market size we found that in the top fourth comprising the eight largest markets of stations are losing viewers In the second-largest markets the figure is But in the next size category the number of stations losing viewers drops to And in the nation's smallest markets the figure is One partial explanation may be that larger percentages of households subscribe to cable in the larger markets meaning there is more competition Nonetheless as news directors work their way up to larger markets where the stakes of their decisions are greater their problems are compounded because the competition is greater Finally late-evening newscasts were more likely to be losing viewers than early-evening programs In our sample of newscasts airing in or p m time slots lost viewers compared to at or p m Perhaps not coincidentally the later newscasts were found to suffer from lower quality as well On the other hand people may simply be going to bed earlier and watching the early morning news instead on the late evening broadcast The demographics of news audiences have also been changing While younger audiences may still be reading newspapers they are less interested in viewing network news or watching programs such as ABC s Nightline Because producers prefer a younger audience given their attraction for advertisers the content of television news particularly for cable-news has focused more on topics of interest to a younger audience And given a younger audience s preference for Web-based news newspapers and TV news have shifted the appearance and layout of their news http www pbs org newshour forum march news html Audiences may also differ in how they are using the news In some cases they may simply be listening to or viewing the news as a backdrop distraction while engaging in other tasks or household activities They may also link certain times of the day with ritual consumption of news reading a newspaper at breakfast or watching the evening news before going to bed Or they may experience the news simply as a form of entertainment Students could go to sites of television news for students and note how the news on those sites is geared or selected for a student audience ABC News for elementary and middle school students http abcnews go com abcnews kids kids index html CNN Student News http fyi cnn com fyi News Currents for middle school students http www newscurrents com intro index html In other cases audiences may have certain specific deliberative uses for the news For example given a specific issue or topic related to their own lives a political campaign or the health of their business audiences may focus attention on acquiring information necessary for engaging in these activities The extent to which they experience a sense of power or agency to influence their lives may influence the degree to which they attend to certain stories Audiences who have a sense of power related to influencing events may read stories quite differently than those with little sense of power Characteristics of Television News Television news needs be highly entertaining and visual in order to maintain audience attention Much of the news content consists of summaries of events but those summaries are accompanied by often dramatic video clips and bulleted lists of headline summaries Moreover in contrast to the BBC newsreaders national news anchors themselves such as Dan Rather Tom Brokaw Peter Jennings and Paula Zahn as well as local anchors are often celebrity stars whose own perspectives comments and asides become a part of the broadcast To enhance their celebrity status and role in entertaining audience anchors engage in happy talk banter with other anchors or weather sports reporters on the set Their engagement with audiences is maintained rhetorically through direct address you re really enjoy the story about the escaped tiger coming up in our next segment as well as direct eye contact with audiences On the scene reporters or correspondents functions as subordinate extensions of these anchors reporting in to them and then receiving the anchor thanks for your report To analyze these elements of presentation log onto a on-line news site such as CNN http www cnn com and play a video clip of a news story Focus on the ways in which the story is presented and framed As with newspapers there is use of the narrativization of events Fairclough in which the dramatic aspects of an event a murder political scandal natural disaster business collapse etc becomes the primary focus as opposed to background context or social political issues Those news events that lend themselves best to compelling narratives dramatic unusual crimes scandals or natural disasters are more likely to be given air time as opposed to topics related to abstract theoretical issues related to political social and cultural issues For video clip examples of different types of news stories go to the NewsLab site http www newslab org and click on Links for a list of the video clips In watching a news clip or the entire news consider how much and what kinds of conceptual content you are acquiring from the news The news is also highly segmented based on an unfolding flow of stories organized down to the second Most stories last for less than a minute a use of time a pace that differs from the slow unpredictable flow of time in everyday worlds The high speed at which stories are reported with an emphasis on a multi-media presentation may ironically detract from a substantive understanding of the news content one may acquire from reading a newspaper account Television news also continually promotes and advertisers itself forecasting up-coming stories within a newscast or on later newscasts in order to attract and maintain audience attention They also promote their larger community function as providing a valued service to the community not only through their news presentation but also through hosting community and charity events One of the underlying assumptions behind their promotion is the belief that their live up-to-the-minute news is valued because of its immediacy as opposed to the less immediate reporting of newspapers This sense of immediacy has been eclipsed by on-line news However simply because a reporter arrives on a scene and gives an immediate report does not necessarily mean that this reporter provides any more insightful understanding of an event than a reporter who spends more time and analysis reflecting on different aspects of an event The assumption that the immediacy of reporting an event means that audiences will be better informed about that event is therefore highly problematic Television news also tend to select those stories that have visual dramatic content fires crime natural disasters embarrassed politicians etc as reflected in the slogan If it bleeds it leads They are less likely to want to cover stories related to theoretical abstract analysis of issues of unemployment poverty housing crime education religion etc because they simply do not have the time to devote to such analysis Moreover coverage of local events often fails to provide a range of different perspectives about an event as well as information about background institutional factors shaping that event Such coverage is evident on the PBS NewsHour broadcast that generally focuses in depth on - topics devoting about minutes on each topic with background interviews information and analysis However there is some debate as to whether audiences would view substantive coverage of local event In a PBS NewsHour analysis of WBBM a Chicago station that made a failed attempt to provide in-depth coverage of local news audience ratings declined when in-depth coverage was provided leading the station to abandon what they perceived to be a journalistic experiment http www pbs org newshour media wbbm index html It may be the case that audiences are not accustomed to substantive coverage on a local news broadcast and prefer the familiar fast-paced superficial format Or they may not be open to analysis which may challenge the status quo In his documentary Bowling for Columbine about gun violence in America http www bowlingforcolumbine com Michael Moore argues that the heavy emphasis on crime and violence in American television news has created a sense of fear in the American public to the point that they believe that they need to not only own guns but use them to protect themselves He contrasts American attitudes towards fear of crime with Canadians lack of fear which he attributes to their low-keyed television news broadcasts It should be noted that Moore presents no empirical evidence for his claims other than the fact that Canadians own just as many guns as Americans but commit far few murders Lesson Crime in the News http www media-awareness ca english resources educational lessons secondary crime crime in the news cfm For further reading Alteide D L Creating fear News and the construction of crisis New York Aldine de Gruyter Lipschultz J H Hilt M L Crime and local television news Dramatic breaking and live from the scene Mahwah NJ Lawrence Erlbaum Tovares R D Manufacturing the gang Mexican American youth gangs on local television news Westport CT Greenwood Press For video British Film Institute Images and reality video London British Film Institute http www bfi org uk education resources teaching secondary imagesreality The relationship of television news and local community Many local television news broadcasts promote themselves as more than providing news information They perceive and portray themselves as serving as a synthetic central nexus of the community through organizing discussion forums or news conferences or sponsoring charity events Local news anchors emerge as celebrities in the community And politicians and community organizations build their public relations and events around getting on the news Television news also frames how people perceive their local community as mediated by television news The heavy emphasis on urban crime often frames perceptions of urban communities as crime-ridden emphasis on sensationalistic content raises a major issue about the function of television news in contributing to a local community s larger good Some stations have begun to consider deciding on story selection based more on relevance to the community as opposed to sensational appeal to audience However as was the case with a Chicago news station that attempt to focus more on substantive news content with little increase in their viewing audience these experiments are not always that successful This raises the larger question as to whether the function of television news may actually not be to inform but to perform a cultural function with the context of the domestic world of providing a ritual-like reassurance that all s well in the world that despite all of the crimes accidents and disasters reported in the broadcast that the overall community is or will still be intact This promotional sense of a synthetic community constructed through and with the participation of television news serves to provide audiences with a false sense of comic relief that institutions and communities will be preserved Thus television news frames or packages the seemingly chaotic world into a larger ritual experience which itself provides an appealing reassurance to its audiences As is Michael Moore s speculates in Bowling for Columbine this analysis is more cultural hypothesizing requiring further careful ethnographic analysis Selecting News Stories One of the major challenges facing local news directors is the selection of news stories in terms of potential audience interest and appeal Students could view the video clip from the PBS documentary program Local News a series on a local Charlotte North Carolina news broadcast In this series News Director is under a lot of pressure to improve the news broadcast s low ratings In this clip he is shown as having to make decisions about a story about a local school bomb threat based both on the significance relevancy of the story as well as it s appeal to the viewing audience http www pbs org wnet insidelocalnews behind news html The news director constantly monitors local news on competing stations comparing it with his or her reporters' coverage and continually re-evaluates what viewers need and want to hear about Amidst the drive to find breaking news no other station is covering and to best the investigative work of other stations' reporters the news director must be sure his station doesn't miss anything relevant and appealing to local viewers We've got a lot to prove begins Keith Connors WCNC News Director as he delivers an inspirational speech to his team You know the world is watching all that you do We've got to connect with that audience In Local News reporters are switched and fired stories are slashed and relationships with investigative sources are challenged in an attempt to keep ahead of the competition and give viewers compelling reports When a hurricane hits the North Carolina coast it leads the news for hours because ratings charts showed viewers felt very threatened by the storm and wanted to see what was coming The news director's role -- while deciding which stories to air -- is to inspire and drive his team to go the extra mile to get that report Aside from the basic instinct of reporters to dig for news they must also be mindful of what the viewers want and feel is appropriate If the reporters the news director and station management fail in this task viewership will decrease precipitating a drop in advertising that could crush a local station So the news we see on television is usually a complex mix including responsible coverage of current events and headline-grabbing sensationalism In the Local News episode To Work a Miracle WCNC holds a staff meeting to discuss how they should cover a reported bomb threat at a local school They debate whether to go on-air and talk of the treats possibly raising public alarm or to hold off and wait for more concrete information This is the process that most big news stories go through before they make it into our homes Reporters and management have to think carefully about the impact of their work and they must decide what level of priority to assign each story Journalism is the process of editing what is acceptable and unacceptable What happens in situations like Columbine happens because nothing has been thought through There is no plan says news director Connors You want to win on a big story When they find what could be an explosive at a school the week after Colorado it's a big story Reliable sources are particularly important in ascertaining what news is fit to air The fire department may report that there is a fire on a particular block At first it may seem like a good piece of breaking news until it's revealed by a source that it is just a small kitchen fire It is the reporter's sources who can confirm the importance of stories At the end of the day however the news selection process is a difficult balancing act between what the public wants to know and what it needs to know If this was only all about a number to have a rating to get a dollar well then it's a shallow vacant meaningless pursuit says Connors In responding to this clip students could examine whether they agree with the News Director s judgment regarding the station s coverage of this event as news This news director s decisions reflect the issue of journalistic quality and relevancy which are being challenged by business needs to show high viewer ratings and please corporate owners Analysis of local television news by The Project for Excellence in Journalism http journalism org resources research reports localTV default asp examines the content of the highest-rated local news broadcasts in cities in terms of community relevance focus on the significant covering a broad range of topics authoritative sourcing in stories presenting more than one point of view citing multiple sources level of enterprise professionalism--or understandability of a story-- and level of sensationalism--defined as the repetition of gore violence thrilling action or implied disgrace with the intention of luring an audience to the story rather than to convey information In their report http journalism org resources research reports localTV public asp the Project found that there was a relationship between the quality of news and viewer ratings percent of stations with the highest quality rating had a higher percentage than in any other ratings grade They also isolated specific aspects of quality that were most likely to predict high viewer ratings Some of these aspects included the following Investigation stories News with higher viewership news had quality of original investigation stories that requires extensive research as opposed to a lot of on-the-spot breaking stories Focus on community They also found that stories about local community issues including finding local examples of how national or state issues impact the local community for example how the No Child Left Behind legislation influences local schools Unfortunately as the report notes local community stories on national issues are three times more likely to not include a local context and consequences than stories with local context and consequences Story length They found that longer stories also resulted in higher viewership Longer stories are more likely to contain alternative perspectives longer interviews more visuals and more specifics They also allow viewers to digest and reflect on the story content as opposed to quick information summaries Sources And they found that stories with cited multiple and highly knowledgeable sources resulted in higher viewership than stories with anonymous sources or no sources They also found that in three fourths of stations were experiencing declines in viewers although these declines varied according to market size and news time slots One reason for this is that corporate owners concerned with profits from advertising which is linked to viewer ratings may assume that contrary to the Project for Excellence study that sensational breaking news style attracts more viewers As evident in a documentary on this topic http www pbs org wnet insidelocalnews ratings html stations rely on ratings data to attract advertising The higher the ratings the more they can charge for their advertising The ratings for national network news as well as all other programs are based on data collected by the Nielsen Media system http www nielsenmedia com which is based on a random sample of households nationwide The system is based simply on the amount of time devoted to particular shows and who is watching as recorded on meters that send in information to Neilsen s computers Audiences also keep diaries of their viewing habits during a specific week Despite owners and editors beliefs about the use of sensationalized formats research by The Project for Excellence in Journalism http www pbs org wnet insidelocalnews ratings html posit that Many of the conventional ideas about what works in TV news -- high story count flashy production emotion over substance targeting -- are demonstrably wrong These false ideas are being driven by outdated beliefs and by following the interests of advertisers rather than viewers And they are institutionalized by short-sighted profit demands that force news directors to cut the very things that build viewership over time -- such as enterprise reporting and building staff says the report One reason for this focus on bottom-line profits is the increasing influence of large conglomerates who may be primarily concerned with profits as opposed to news quality For example General Electric owns NBC MSNBC and CNBC TimeWarner own CNN News Disney owns ABC News Viacom owns CBS News and Murdoch News owns FOX News These corporate owners are often more concerned about gaining profits than on news quality Because both national network and local news divisions must demonstrate high levels of profits they often employ methods that will result in higher ratings and more advertising revenue On the following PBS Newshour site http www pbs org newshour media conglomeration map php you can click on any one of news market areas to determine who owns the local television stations For the Minnesota market which ranks th in the nation with households of U S households Channel City Network Owner KTCA St Paul MN PBS Twin Cities Public Television KSTP St Paul MN ABC Hubbard Broadcasting WCCO Alexandria MN CBS Viacom CBS Station Group KBSU Bemidji MN PBS Bemidji State University KCCO Alexandria MN CBS Viacom CBS Station Group KAWE Bemidji MN PBS Lakeland Public Television KMSP Minneapolis MN UPN News Corp Fox Television Stations KWCM Appleton MN PBS West Central Minn North Educational TV Co KARE Minneapolis MN NBC Gannett Co KCCW Walker MN CBS Viacom CBS Station Group KTCI St Paul MN PBS Twin Cities Public Television KAWB Brainerd MN PBS Lakeland Public Television KMWB Minneapolis MN WB Sinclair Broadcast Group KFTC Bemidiji MN Fox News Corp Fox Television Stations WHWC Menomonie WI PBS Univ of Wisconsin Ed Comm Board WFTC Minneapolis MN Fox News Corp Fox Television Stations KPXM St Cloud MN PAX Paxson Communications KSAX Alexandria MN ABC Hubbard Broadcasting KRWF Redwood Falls ABC Hubbard Broadcasting KSTC Minneapolis MN Independent Hubbard Broadcasting The Local News documentary demonstrates that focusing on bottom line profitability creates a highly competitive workplace http www pbs org wnet insidelocalnews behind business html In Local News when news director Keith Connors compares each day in the newsroom to a war he means that reporters must fight to keep their stories to protect their jobs and to remain competitive in the market If an anchor's appearance personality or credibility does not match audience expectations he or she may be cut as was the case with WCNC anchor Alicia Booth who was replaced by another anchor and reassigned as a field reporter Such tactics on the part of station management may seem unfair or even shallow but a key factor in their decision making is economics As the very large profits of local television stations have declined with the advent of cable and the Internet the owner's first response often is to tighten the newsroom's belt During the last four years the percentage of TV stations reporting budget increases has slid from percent to percent At the same time the percentage of stations reporting budget decreases has grown from percent to percent Budget tightening is primarily in smaller markets according to the Radio-Television News Directors Association RTNDA Most local news operations are in these smaller markets Complicating the drive for local news operations to excel amidst tough competition is a simple economic factor it is difficult to produce audience-grabbing broadcasts at a station that does not have enough money for equipment and staff Bill Moyers PBS NOW Sinclair Broadcasting's censorship and media consolidation in general http www commondreams org views - htm Disney's control of information distribution http www cnn com money news fortune disney moore reut index htm cnn yes Accuracy Completeness of News Coverage Another concern has to do with the degree to which reports are accurate and complete In the PBS program Local News the television news station staff met together on a regular basis in order to share their perceptions of an event sharing that insured that different perspectives were applied to a story and that the information collected was accurate http www pbs org wnet insidelocalnews behind community html In Local News this technique was used in several news meetings as WCNC team members shared their opinions and discussed the dynamics of the desegregation issue in each of their communities By so doing the team was better able to understand the hearts and minds of the people they were covering Such meetings may also alert reporters to their own misconceptions and biases and give them ideas about how to approach a community that may at first seem inaccessible In covering ethnic communities one of the biggest challenges is finding an angle that goes beyond the superficial A journalist needs powerful tools -- the strong narrative the increased sophistication the kind of sensitive and honest reporting that peels another layer off the onion says CJR Another related issue has to do with the degree of balance the extent to which different perspectives or sources are include so that there is a balanced understanding all sides of an issue Again however it may be difficult to achieve such balance when certain people with different alternative perspectives may not have the right or the power to speak on an issue It is often the case that in national stories government officials think-tank spokespersons or familiar spokespersons often white males are far more likely to be quoted than people outside of institutions of power In Local News the station often presented these events over others because of their visual appeal to audiences who prefer such content http www pbs org wnet insidelocalnews behind leads html Crime reporting has risen dramatically in newsrooms across America and some studies suggest viewers want more of these stories Mediascope a non-profit media research and policy organization released a report in which it stated Market research suggests that stories of crime and violence increase newscasts' ratings This finding drives news directors to deliver more crime-related stories to their audiences As fascinating as crime may be for some viewers is it right that a local news station air the gory details of a tragic event possibly jeopardizing an ongoing police investigation and violating suspects' rights How much does the public need to know For reporters the struggle over how far to pursue a story may present serious ethical and even moral complications Investigative reporting on any level requires asking invasive and sensitive questions of people who may not want their privacy invaded In one episode of Local News reporters Alicia Booth and Glenn Counts are assigned to report the story of a young boy who was murdered Back in the newsroom pressure was laid on staff to comb the affected community and gather leads and sound bites The strong need among stations to compete for viewers and ratings compels news directors to push reporters to their field research limits One limitation of these brief visual reports on highly visual dramatic events is that there is often little or no contextual analysis of causes institutional factors shaping events Thus audiences acquire little analysis of the influences of poverty homelessness unemployment or lack of education on crime As noted in Module on media representations audiences may then perceive urban areas as crime-ridden and dangerous They may also not acquire an understanding of and knowledge about a range of different issues in terms of the larger factors and forces shaping those issues education the environment economic development housing health care etc As voters who need to be informed citizens making decisions about candidates stands on these issues they may be more likely to respond to candidates personality or celebrity image than to their positions on various issues Events are also framed in terms of a dramatic narrative form that highlights conflicts or tensions the narrativization Fairclough By framing events in a narrative form the focus is primarily on dramatizing events for the purpose of engaging or entertaining audiences Events are also linked to visual content requiring reporters and editors to decide on what visual material provides the most effective representation of an event or analysis Students could analyze how broadcasts use visual content to portray concepts or ideas in some cases oversimplifying these concepts or ideas For an analysis of how visuals are used in the news http www gecdsb on ca d g carnaval It is also assumed that immediacy and portraying an event as live enhances the quality of a news broadcast or coverage of an event News programs often promote themselves in terms of their capacity to capture up-to-the-minute or breaking news as soon as certain events occur The assumption that immediacy necessary results in being well-informed about an event may be problematic in that often initial impressions or live interviews on the scene may not necessarily result in the most thorough comprehensive understanding of an event Careful investigation of an event often takes days of shifting through evidence and interviewing people An analysis by Wally Dean Branding Lite by the Local TV News Project a project involving studies of local news broadcasts http www journalism org resources research reports localTV branding asp examined the uses of branding a practice of continually alerting audiences of breaking news Amid -hour cable and the news crawl stories journalists once labeled Developing Story are now Breaking News Indeed the data show that stations more often give major breaking news treatment to events that are in fact commonplace In this year's study when dealing with spontaneous news events - as opposed to daybook stories - reporters were almost three times more likely to be on-scene at an everyday incident percent like a car accident as they were to be covering significant breaking events percent such as a sniper shooting And for all that breaking news has become a marketing brand for stations and a priority for their newsrooms genuine breaking news - covering an unplanned event as it unfolds - accounts for a tiny percentage of news content just percent of stories That amounts to one story a week A similar kind of hyperbole is evident though less common in investigative reporting While three quarters of news directors say they do investigative work a significant number of newsrooms affix the label investigative to such pressing public dangers as mold and dog food A look at station Web sites reveals that one newsroom dispatched its I-Team to report on The cold hard facts about soft serve yogurt and A camera that can see through clothes At another station a five-person I-Team churned out stories on Spray-on Makeup Hair Cloning and Tongue Piercing Sometimes the investigative label was applied to spot news simply because a station sent a reporter from its investigative unit to cover it One station's Web site for instance boasts how its Investigative Reporter revealed Twelve arrested at 'Swingers Bar' and Pitbull bites boy's diaper kills his dog This is branding lite The research team felt that the mislabeling of the term investigative is the significant exception in local TV news rather than the rule A review of the investigative work described by news directors in the survey data and a review of those stations' Web sites suggest that serious investigative work outweighed the faux by better than two to one But even the best journalists are affected by the false branding efforts of a few Real breaking news refers to something important happening right now Genuine investigative journalism adds a dimension beyond disclosure it engages the public to come to judgment about something that the news organization feels may be wrong or at least important and needing scrutiny Article on how WCCO frequently uses concept of breaking news http www twincities com mld twincities entertainment columnists brian lambert htm Consistent with the question as to what constitutes the significance or relevance of these dramatic visual stories stations may consider whether or not they actually contribute to the larger good of the community One station in Austin Texas now considers the extent to which certain events are relevant to the community as opposed to a story s sensational appeal One aspect of television news is the continuous flow of reporting carefully organized and editing according to defined segments Audiences may therefore become caught up in the flow of on-going events often focusing on the visual display of images as well as a use of bulleted lists graphics and sound effects This rapid-fire delivery often leaves little or no time to reflect on the content or implications of the information provided In conducting their analyses of the minutes of local news students also often report that they have little opportunity to reflect on the information provided to them in any thoughtful systematic manner Another key component of television news is the role of the anchor person s frequently a male and a female These anchor persons assume a celebrity status in the community and are often the focus of stations promotional campaigns The anchors frequently address the audience as you and maintain direct eye contact with the audience attempting to build a rhetorical bond with the audience They also engage in happy-talk banter with co-anchors or other reporters as a form of entertainment Audiences may also judge the anchor in terms of personality or style as opposed to their primary function of simply reading news copy This contrasts with the traditional role of the host on PBS Newshour NPR s All Things Considered or the BBC News Correspondents function as extensions of anchor who report in to the anchor on the scene These correspondents capture witnesses or interviewee s perspectives on events often selecting those who provide the most effective sound-bite quotes for the brief - minute stories This raises questions about how and why certain interviewees may be selected and who those interviewees may represent In some cases as in Minutes news documentary shows interviewees may be put on the spot by questions that they attempt to evade or not answer creating a dramatic tension between their elusive non-verbal behavior on the screen and their words Newsroom for a local news broadcast from PBS s Local News requires Flash plug in http www pbs org wnet insidelocalnews newsroom html Analysis of TV news http www newslab org News interviews The nature and quality of news interviews varies considerably In local news while an actual interview may have lasted ten minutes only seconds of that interview ends up in a story This provides little sense of context alternative perspective or an interviewee s beliefs and attitudes about a topic or issue In contrast interviews with authorities politicians or experts on the PBS NewsHour may last for or minutes providing more opportunities for interviewees to express their ideas and opinions For examples of extended interviews on the NewsHour http www pbs org newshour The quality of interviewer questions may also influence the quality of the interview data Reporters who are able to pose follow-up questions in a tactful manner may elicit more information than with a series of different unrelated questions Some reporters particularly on investigatory news programs may pose leading why-are-you-beating-you-wife questions that box in interviewees who may then appear embarrassed or guilty of actions they may not have committed For further reading Clayman S Heritage J The news interview Journalists and public figures on the air New York Cambridge University Press Television News Development National television news has developed over time from only a minute broadcast in the s to their current -minute broadcasts Some local news broadcasts are now one to two hours in large markets Cable news networks broadcast hours a day As previously noted the re-mediation of television Bolter Guerin has meant that television news has increasingly incorporated the look of a computer screen

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