Bias in the Presentation of the News



The mass media is selective in its coverage of news.

Journalists say they provide an accurate representation of what is happening and that the wide variety of sources available allow people to check this. News reportage is accurate and honest; commentary is interpretation and evaluation.

Pluralist believe the media gives people what they want and that the wide variety of choice available means people can select the news they want to read. The new media provides a bigger variety and there are safeguards in place (Libel Laws and PCC) which ensure accuracy of reporting. These allow people to seek legal redress and compensation if they have been defamed.

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Marxists= media is part of the ISA, it transmits upper class ideology. The agenda setters and gate keepers ensure news fits with the ideas of the paper or program and meets the policies from managers.

GUMG= industrial conflicts shown as ideological via the language used by journalists, trade unions "make demands" and "threats" whilst bosses make "offers" or "pleas". 

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News Values

Editors choose material for their media based on the news values:

-drama(the suggestion that "bad news is good news" for the media)

-human interest




-visual impact

Boxing day tsunami is a good example: visual impact (pictures of damaged coast line, waves etc), human interest (survival against the odds, aid workers helping). Cynics argue that editors who were in contact with Bush used the event to keep Iraq off the front page.

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Dumbing Down and Narratives

This concept suggests that news has become more sensationalist and populist whilst becoming less intelligent and informative. When foreign news is reported the focus is on the immediate and dramatic not on the causes and long term consequences. This gives the audience a limited and superficial view. Journalists also aim for narratives, stories with a beginning, middle and end. In real life, this rarely happens but journalists twist stories to fit into this format.

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This is the concept of journalists copying stories almost verbatim, a study by Cardiff University found 80% of stories were not original and only 12% were generated by reporters. Journalism leads to reduction in quality and accuracy. This ties in with the increased of exclusives which leads to production of speculative and unsubstantiated stories.

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Franklin and Influences on News Content

Franklin suggests news management influences media with politics to show the government in a positive and sympathetic light.

Other influences on News content are:


-breaking stories

-financial considerations



-news diary

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Marxists and interactionalists see the news as a social construction which comes about through decisions by bourgeoisie gate keepers and agenda setters.

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