The newspaper industry

  • Created by: holly6901
  • Created on: 05-06-20 09:46

Title card

British newspapers

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Types of British newspapers

Newspapers are a key part of British culture. They can be divided into 3 categories

·       Tabloids(red-tops): The Sun; The Star; The Sport and The  Daily Mirror.

·       Mid-RangeTabloids(black-tops): The Daily MailandThe Daily Express.

·       Broadsheets: The Times; The Guardian; The Independent and The Telegraph.

They are responsible for informing the public about the news


Hard news is characterised as important global, political, and economic news stories that are current.

Soft News

Soft news is characterised as ‘lighter’ news features for example celebrity gossip, human interest stories, charity and awards events or novelty news features.

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Types of bias

Some news outlets can be seen to have their own agenda. That is to say, a specific political or ideological perspective that influences both the selection and the presentation of news stories. British Newspapers all have their own ideological bias and news stories are shaped accordingly. This means that news stories are often presented in a biased way. There are a number of different types of bias:

  • Political bias - where the news supports or attacks a particular political party, candidate, or ideology
  • Corporate/advertising bias - when stories are selected or slanted to please advertisers or business interests
  • Corporate bias - when stories are selected or slanted to please corporate owners of media
  • Mainstream bias - a tendency to report what everyone else is reporting, and to avoid stories that will offend anyone
  • Sensationalism - bias in favour of the exceptional over the ordinary, giving the impression that rare events, such as airplane crashes are more common than common events, such as automobile crashes
  • Cultural bias - including reporting that favours or attacks a particular race, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, or ethnic group.
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History of newspapers

  • Newspapers were the first medium of mass communication and allowed news to be distributed widely for a relatively small fee.
  • Broadsheet newspapers were launched first with The Times (as The Daily Universal Register) beginning publication in 1785 followed  by The Telegraph (as The Daily Telegraph and Courier) in 1885. 
  • The Daily Mail was the first newspaper for mass circulation and launched in 1896, followed by the Daily Express in 1900.
  • Soon after this, in 1922, came radio which became a popular medium for news bulletins.
  • Finally, the BBC began regular television services with news bulletins from cinema reels in 1936.
  • One thing all of these news media have in common is that they are all institutionally- based, they have owners, meaning that the main reason for their existence is to make a profit.
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How to analyse newspapers

1. Target audience

2. Representations and why they are there (Consider the institution and news agenda and ideology

Make sure to analyse the effect on the target audience of what you see

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Key features of tabloid newspapers

  • Sensationalised or exaggerated versions of current events.
  • Tabloids tend to foster and uphold public opinion and are very often responsible for starting moral panics regarding controversial issues.
  • Use of soft news over hard news stories.
  • Exclusive interviews.
  • Tabloids focus mainly on the personal impact of a story as opposed to examining the overall effect an event has had.
  • The dominant use of images to direct the narrative
  •  Use of informal language and mode of address to the audience.
  • Emotionalandpersonalresponsetothenewsstoriesfeatured.
  • Simplistic in their mode of address and written style, using images and large headlines to convey the narrative quickly to their audience
  • Tabloids often use binary opposites i.e.good versus evil, to quickly attract and position audiences
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Key features of mid-range newspapers

  • Examine the effects a story has had upon the family and/or the national impact of astory.
  • Useacombinationofhardnewsandsoftnewsstories.
  • Somenewsfeatureswillbesensationalisedtoattractaudiences.
  • Hard news features often contain a bias towards family values andthepreservationofBritishculture
  • Useacombinationofimagesandtexttoconveythenarrative but unlike tabloids, the image does not replace the narrative.
  • Are more sophisticated in their mode of address and written styleincomparisontotabloids.
  • Useofbinaryoppositestoattractandpositionaudiences.
  • Cultivate and defend public opinion regarding controversial and importantsocialandpoliticalissues.
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Key features of broadsheet newspapers

  • Broadsheets provide a comprehensive and serious version of news events examining the national, global, and social implications of a story and the news agenda has a hard news focus.
  • Themodeofaddressandwrittenstyleisformalandauthoritative.
  • Soft news features are occasionally reported on but they will not be sensationalised and will have a hard news focus. For example, the racist allegations made surrounding Channel Four’s CelebrityBigBrother(2007)examinedtheimpacttheprogramme was having on Britain and multiculturalism, not on the celebrities involved.
  • Soft news features will not report on trivial celebrity newsstories but will instead focus on the serious arts i.e. theatre and literature or prominent Royalfigures.
  • Thenarrativeisconveyedmainlyusingtextalthoughimages are used to break up the large amounts of text on the front-page.
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  • Technological changes have had a direct impact on the type of stories covered by the press as well as the way news is sourced. Soft news stories or stories that tap into topics that create an emotional response are often the most successful and modern news agendas can be seen to be influenced by these financial considerations.  This  is  called Tabloidisation  -  the  increase  in  tabloid  values  that  has  influenced all sorts of media including broadsheet news reporting, entertainment programming and broadcast news Tabloid values include:
  •  The simplification of complex issues
  • Focus on sex, sport, scandal, celebrity and human interest stories
  • A tendency to look for personal slants on hard news stories
  •  Using  a  reporting  style  that  appeals  to  the  audience’s emotion rather than reason or logic
  •  Tabloidisation can be seen across media platforms and genres. Traditionally broadsheet newspapers attempt to analyse rather than  simply  report  but  it  is  clear  that  they  have  responded to recent changes by offering more opinion-based columns, increasing   their   coverage   of   soft   news   and   offering   an analytical slant on soft news and entertainment topics. These strategies  are  used  in  an  attempt  to  attract  and  maintain  an audience but most newspapers, even with online and mobile apps  struggle  for  audiences  and  income.  This  has  led  to journalistic and editorial staff cuts which in turn means that newspapers have fewer resources for original and investigative journalism, fact-checking and sub-editing for accuracy. Staff cuts have been made to make savings and so cheaper news sources are used more often and there has been a noticeable increase  in  the  use  of  PR  generated  stories  as  the  sales  of print  news  has declined.  Press  releases  are  often  published with  little  challenge  to  the  message  being  communicated by  the  PR  company  as  it  is  cheaper  to  copy  and  paste  the information  provided  than  ask  someone  to investigate and check. Whilst PR copy may not necessarily be inaccurate it will certainly present the information is a way that benefits the PR company’s client but the paper will choose PR generated stories that have the potential to generate traffic on the site.

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News values

News stories in tabloid and broadsheet newspapers rely heavily on news values. News values are an important theoretical part of any analysis because they can help to identify the ideologies and news agenda of the institutions that produce a newspaper. Using the front-   page of The Sun newspaper the table below offers an example of how an analysis using news values could be approached. If you begin your analysis by using a similar table it could help you identify which news values are relevant to your analysis. This method will also help you to avoid describing what is in front of you and instead, help you to evaluate the effect that news values are having on your overall analysis. News values are;

  • Immediacy
  • Familiarity
  • Size
  • Clarity
  • Predictability
  • Continuity
  • Elite nations or people involved
  • Personalisation
  • Negativity
  • Exclusivity
  • Strong image
  • Balance
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Title card 2


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Regulation basics

All media content in the UK, including films and video games, is regulated through non-governmental organisations that classify and censor material, depending upon its suitability to particular audiences. Though the regulation is effective through some gatekeeper systems at cinemas and retailers, the increasing use of the internet as a means of consuming content is making the regulation less effective. The growth of the internet has led to the regulatory organisations having less impact upon preventing audiences from viewing inappropriate content as access to this content is far easier than in the past, and can be consumed by children.

The BBFC is a non-governmental organisation that is responsible for the national classification and censorship of films exhibited at cinemas and video works released on physical media within the UK, funded through charged fees meaning that it cannot be influenced. Initially, there were two certificates (U and A) and didn’t have any written rules or codes of practice. Instead, the ratings reflected public attitudes. In contrast, now, the BBFC operates under a series of published guidelines, which are flexible are take context into account.  

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British newspaper regulation

Britain has a free press. This means that the content of publications is not controlled by the government so newspapers and magazines are free to publish content which supports any political ideology.

Generally, the content of British newspapers is self-regulated by two main self-regulatory codes

  • The National Union of Journalists’ Code of Conduct
  • The Press Complaints Commission’s Code of Practice

The National Union of Journalists makes joining journalists sign an agreement stating they will follow the code of conduct which includes protecting confidential sources, respecting people’s privacy and defending the freedom of the press as well as agreeing to ethical standards.

The PCSO regulates producers and administers the code of conduct, which avoids arguments. The code of conduct includes points such as accuracy, privacy and protection of children, especially in sex abuse cases.

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The  vast  majority  of  British  national  newspapers  also  publish content  on  their  websites  and  these  are  subject  to  the  same  PCC Code of Practice as the printed press.   If a complaint is made about an article, which is subsequently altered in the newspaper’s records, the  corresponding  web  article  must  also, be  altered  or removed. However, an additional problem in terms of web content arises as a result  of  these  websites  being  accessible worldwide.  Newspapers are becoming increasingly subject to international privacy and libel laws.     For  example,  Mirror  Group  Newspapers  and Associated Newspapers  were  sued  under  French  privacy  law  in  May  2008  by Olivier Martinez, Kylie Minogue’s ex-boyfriend, over claims made on  and  that  the  couple  had rekindled  their relationship.   Each  publisher  was  forced  to  pay Martinez approximately £3500.

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  • Many people consider punishments given by the PCC are too light as apologies don't always work for past issues which have caused a major upset. In some cases, the PCC doesn't intervene. 
  •  For example,  in  December  2006,  five prostitutes were murdered in the Suffolk town of Ipswich.  The first man arrested was named in the local press.   Though the  Press  Complaints Commission’s  Code of  Practice should have meant journalists protected his privacy, the East Anglian Daily Times printed his full name, place of work, partial address and photographs of his house which means anyone local could discover his address and where he worked.
  •  Many national newspapers also published this information at a  later date along with his  MySpace profile address,  though the profile was quickly removed from the site.     Though no charges were bought against the suspect he was subject to a  ‘trial by media’ which means the public decided he was guilty from the information in the press. 
  •   In order for the  PCC  to address a  possible breach,  someone needs to file a  complaint.   There is no record of the suspect ever doing so and it was unlikely that anyone else would do so on his behalf as he was a  suspected murderer.  He did not sue any of the newspapers either so the  East  Anglian  Daily  Times and the other newspapers never had to justify their breach of the  PCC  Code of  Practice or apologise to the man involved
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Benefits of self-regulation

  •  The Press should be governed by the same rules   as  broadcasting,  which  is  heavily  controlled  by OFCOM and is generally seen as being more trustworthy  than  newspapers  as  a  result.
  • Apologies  are  not  sufficient  compensation  or a sufficient deterrent.
  • The PCC was set up by the very industry it is meant  to  control  so  cannot  be  expected  to be efficient.

·         Tabloids are damaging the good name of the press  by  ‘bending’  the  rules  too  frequently  and should  be  punished  more stringently.

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Breaching the PCC

As the PCC is a non-statutory body this means it is not supported by  law  and  cannot  award  compensation  or  instigate  criminal proceedings  against  journalists  or  editors  who  breach  the  Code  of Practice.

All the PCC can do is ask the offending publication to offer an apology to the complainant through a letter or apology placed in the next issue, occasionally they offer financial compensation.

The only way a journalist or editor can justify breaching the Code of Practice is if the information they publish is in the public interest which usually means it contributes to public well-being. It is debated whether the information is in the public interested or of public interest.

Much of tabloid content is of public interest, such as sensational news which is based upon gossip.

In  June  2008,  the  Guardian  reported  that  Giles  Chichester,  a Conservative  Member  of  the  European  Parliament,  had  resigned over accusations that he had paid his annual Parliamentary Assistant Allowance to a family-owned firm. As director of the firm, Chichester was paying himself using tax-payers’ money.  This information is in the public interest as the general the public have a right to know how their  tax  money  is  being  spent,

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The British Press and the Law

In some cases, a breach of the PCC Code has much more significant consequences  than  in  others,  and  this  often  leads  to  criminal proceedings  against  publications.   The  most  commonly  used  laws in  prosecutions  against  the  press  are:

  • The Human Rights Act 1988 Article 8 which is the only British law  which  protects  privacy
  • The Official Secrets Act 1989 Section 5 which protects disclosure of  government  secrets
  • Libel Laws which relate to written statements which damage a person’s  reputation

Those people who believe that the PCC is ineffectual would welcome laws  which  regulate  the  press  but,  as  the  following  examples  will illustrate, even laws do not always effectively regulate some editor’s or  publisher’s future behaviour.

The  vast  majority  of  British  national  newspapers  also  publish content  on  their  websites  and  these  are  subject  to  the  same  PCC Code of Practice as the printed press.   If a complaint is made about an an article, which is subsequently altered in the newspaper’s records, the  corresponding  web  article  must  also, be  altered  or removed. However, an an additional problem in terms of web content arises as a result of these websites being accessible worldwide.  Newspapers are becoming increasingly subject to international privacy and libel laws.   For example,  Mirror  Group  Newspapers and Associated Newspapers were sued under  French privacy law in  May  2008  by Olivier Martinez, Kylie Minogue’s ex-boyfriend, over claims made and  that the couple had rekindled their relationship.   Each publisher was forced to pay Martinez approximately £3500.

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Title card 3

Citizen journalism

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Stories promoted by Twitter

Dapper laughs

In  2014  Dapper  Laughs  generated  social  media  outrage  which  led to  the  mainstream  press picking up the story.  He  had  (ironically) become  famous  on  the  social  network,  Vine  and  had  been  given  a short comedy series on the niche channel ITV 2. His comedy involved sexist  and,  at  times  sexually  violent  material and he was accused of misogyny. The debate about his work trended on Twitter and this was picked up by the mainstream press. He was discussed in tabloid and  broadsheet  newspapers and   became   a   discussion point   on   broadcast   news. Within  a  week  of  hitting  the mainstream   media,   his   TV show and live gigs had been cancelled  and  he  appeared on    BBC’s    Newsnight    to discuss how the media focus had ‘ruined his career’.

Rio Ferdinand and Katie Price

In   2012,   Katie   Price   and   Rio   Ferdinand (amongst  others)  were  criticised  for  posting images of themselves with a Snickers bar. They were paid to do so and some fans (and tabloid papers) felt this was a dishonest use of Twitter. The Advertising Standards Agency ruled that no advertising rules had been broken but the event,  the  fan’s  outrage,  the  complaints  and the ASA’s ruling ensured that the story could be  returned  to  by  news  providers  for  three months.

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Case Study:

  • This website runs with the tagline Citizen journalism for all. In December 2010, two of the headline stories for that day were ‘John Travolta accused of leading gay double life’ and ‘Wikileaks treated like a terrorist group’. What is interesting in terms of the style of journalism is that both stories offered no-holds-barred accounts.
  • In the case of the Travolta story, an interview with Carrie Fisher (the US actress famous for playing Princess Leia in the original Star Wars films) is quoted as saying that she assumed that everyone knew Travolta is gay.
  • The author of the piece backs this up with quotes from other people, all of whom testify to the fact, as they see it, that Travolta is gay.
  • Unlike traditional media, there is no sense that the  author is concerned about the possibility of lawsuits being filed against him for labelling Travolta.
  • Similarly, in the Wikileaks story, the writer is arguing that whoever is masterminding the economic suffocation of Wikileaks is using the same tactics as those who target terrorist groups.
  • Again this is possibly inflammatory writing but there appears to be no fear of reprisals as there would in the mainstream media.
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Advantages of citizen journalism

The hierarchy of institutions producing news and the audience consuming it continued for many years. There was a financial transaction involved, given the nature of institutions, which ensured institutions profited from the audience. Change to this hierarchy was, it could be argued, a direct result of the development of technology with the internet being prime in this. However, to deny thesocialfactorsthataffectedchangewouldbeamistake. Dan Gillmor argues in his book We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People for the People (2004), that the change in news production and consumption can be pinpointed to the aftermath of 9/11. He writes: ‘But something else, something profound was happening this time around: news was being produced by regular people who had something to say and show, and not solely bythe “official” news organisations that had traditionally decided how the first draft of history would look. This time, the first draft of history was being written in part, by the former audience.’

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'Former audience'

 Dan Gillmor argues in his book We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People for the People (2004), that the change in news production and consumption can be pinpointed to the aftermath of 9/11. He writes: ‘But something else, something profound was happening this time around: news was being produced by regular people who had something to say and show, and not solely by the “official” news organisations that had traditionally decided how the first draft of history would look. This time, the first draft of history was being written in part, by the former audience.’

His use of the term 'former audience' suggests the relationship between audience and producer has changed, allowing a democratised audience. Citizen journalism emerged from 9/11 due to publishing tools online. Gillmor suggests news is now more of a conversation and not delivered by anyone in a 'god-like' position.

At the end of the book, Gillmor writes ‘On the Internet, we are defined by what we know and share. Now for the first time in history, the feedback system can be global and nearly instantaneous. My goal in this book has been to persuade you that the collision of journalism and technology is having major consequences for three constituencies: journalists, newsmakers and theaudience’.

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Shirky and Cognitive surplus

If the audience is becoming more involved and pro-active in producing news, then it goes without saying that they must have found time to do this. Clay Shirky, in Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age (2010), argues that people are now learning how to use their free time more constructively, which is particularly evident since the 1940s. Shirky refers to this constructive use of time as a cognitivesurplus.

The onset of online tools allows new forms of collaboration along with valuable and influential new forms of human expression. It can be argued that, instead of being passive consumers of news, the audience is contributing to it, which Shirky sees as a more constructive use of free time compared  than the hundreds of billions of hours spent by populations of countries like the USA watching television.

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Opposition to citizen journalism and the cult of t

  • The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing our Culture and Assaulting our Economy (2007), Andrew Keen gives us a very different approach to citizen journalism.
  • He argues that he is against the read-write culture as: ‘Most of the content being shared – no matter how many times it has been linked, cross-linked, annotated and copied – was composed or written by someone from the sweat of their creative brow and the disciplined use of their talent’.
  • He sees companies which don't make their own content but instead link to content by others. Keen believes this is ‘parasitic’ as Google survives off the workofothercompanieswithoutcompensatingthemfinancially.
  •  Keen is pro-capitalism and he believes the decline of newspapers is due to the internet.
  • There is a price to pay, he argues, for the growth in equality offered by the internet and that is access to unedited stories.
  • For him, most modern social culture has existed with gatekeepers analysing and regulating information as it reaches the mass audience. He sees this filtering process as a good thing as it improves the quality of popular discourse so the lack of such an editorial process in citizen journalism is problematic for him.
  • He argues that ‘history has proven that the crowd is not often verywise’.
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Shirky in opposition to Keen

  • However, it is important to evaluate this view from a less pro-capitalism stance. Shirky (2010) points out that not everyone is motivated by the desire to make money. 
  •   Whilst he appreciates that people running the internet services do get, and should get, rewarded financially he notes that most of the people who are making the contributions which are distributed without them receiving payment ‘don’t seem terribly up in arms about it’.
  • He asks: ‘What if their labours are labours of love?’ meaning that people create and contribute simply because they enjoy doing so. Shirky believes that media professionals, such as journalists and photographers, only complain about the lack of financial rewards because they fear the competition from amateurs who can often provide footage or opinion that the professionals are unable to. 
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Title card 4

The threat of the internet

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Digital media and income

News organisations have been hit hard by the changes in their businesses recently. News is ‘bought’ far less by the public who can get their news from a wide variety of free sources. Newspapers have been most dramatically hit as their sales have plummeted as more and more people access news on-line and now on mobile devices.

The main source of income for newspapers is advertising and with more  and  more  content  providers  on-line  advertising  costs  have dropped.

Newspaper  companies  have  tried  to  raise  income  in  a  number  of different ways:

  • The Sun and The Times are behind paywalls online;
  • Most  newspapers  provide  an  app  for  phones  and/or  tablets  and premium content (or advert free access) is available if a subscription fee is paid.

Online news organisations now have to consider attracting ‘traffic’ to their websites and then keeping audiences on the site for as long as possible as this helps increase their advertising income. The success of the MailOnline can clearly be seen as being down to its ‘clickbait’ headlines and the way the stories encourage you to stay and watch videos, look at photos and read comments. The site tempts you to stay by offering more ‘clickbait’ headlines and images on the seemingly infinite  ‘sidebar of shame’.  The  focus  on  soft  news  and  the  way the  pages  encourage  audiences  to  linger  on  the  site  has  made  the MailOnline the most visited online news sites.

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Social media and news

Social media’s impact on the news is a relatively new phenomenon and  an  investigation  in  recent  changes  to  news  production  and distribution came up with some surprising findings. The researchers expected to find ‘broadening of diversity of voices in an on-line context’ (due to) access to more information and access to more people, more user-generated content to draw upon, more space in which to say it - actually what (was) found was pretty much the opposite’:

  • ‘What you get is a vastly speeded up news environment, a huge expansion in spaces to fill but with fewer journalists and less time to do proper investigative journalism... A big concentration on a ‘cut and paste’, desk-bound journalism... They take PR copy or they take copy from other newsprint or news broadcasts it is a creative cannibalisation’
  • ‘Many of the same gatekeepers are in charge and our horizons may be narrowing not expanding’
  • ‘Most  people,  most  of  the  time,  get  most  of  their  information from mainstream news sources, whether that’s on-line or not’
  • ‘There  is  an  immense  global  archive  of  information  (on  the web)... but people go to tried and tested sources - people go to mainstream news
  • ‘There are more links to other types of material and there’s more comment coming through but it’s comment on what has already been set by the mainstream news agenda, the agendas themselves are not shifting’
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Citizen journalism

Citizen journalists - Members of the public who record news events e.g. on their phone cameras because they are at the scene and post on social media or a blog and therefore threaten journalists jobs. 

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Technology and media

In the past news institutions from the BBC to Reuters were pioneers in  the  technologies  as  well  as  journalism  but  nowadays  the  news industry is at a point of transition where news spaces are no longer owned by newsmakers. The press is no longer in charge of the free press and has lost control of the main channels through which stories reach audiences. The public sphere is now operated by a small number of private companies, based in Silicon Valley. As Bell further argues in her Oxford lectures, ‘The fourth estate, which liked to think that it  operated  in  splendid  isolation  from  other  systems  of  money  and power,  has  slipped  suddenly  and  conclusively  into  a  world  where it  no  longer  owns  the  means  of  production,  or  controls  the  routes to distribution.’ The news industry was too slow to react to changes because they didn’t understand how these new technologies would affect their business models and under-estimated how much audiences would welcome the shift to finding out information more easily. As Bell goes on to say ‘News companies make it hard to publish; social media  platforms  make  it  easy  to  publish.’ Consequently  nearly  all digital content has a capacity to be shared on social platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Reddit, Pinterest, Ello, Medium, Kickstarter but yet the news institutions have yet to create or conceive of a platform where they control the distribution of news, equally social media sites have no interest in employing journalist to editorialise and check content.

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Prominence of social media

  • Facebook  and  other  social  media  sites  use  a  series  of  complicated formulae to decide which news stories rise to the top of your page or news feed.
  • This algorithm contains editorial decisions, every piece of software design carries social implications.
  • Gatekeepers no longer shape the news agenda and newsroom norms but shaped by algorithms which determine which promote popular stories.
  • They dictate not only what  we  see  but  provide  the  foundation  of  the  business  model  for social platforms.
  • They are there to make the institutions money and therefore remain secret. They can also change without informing the news providers and they can alter what we see without us even noticing.
  • This mathematical selection of what gets promoted and what does not is having profound impact on the kinds of news people are accessing and if as research is suggesting over 30% of Americans (and one must presume other countries too) are getting their news from Facebook
  • The kinds of stories that get prominence because they are simply based on popularity will be shaping the way that news institutions need to write their stories in order to attract audiences
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Twitter vs Facebook for news

  • Facebook does not do this selecting intentionally.
  • They state they do not have any interest in editorialising news only in the amount of traffic they can generate to ensure their economic survival.
  • According to Bell Facebook engineers state that; ‘we are ‘just a platform’, the ‘technology is neutral’; ‘we don’t make editorial decisions.’
  • Whatever they might say their algorithms do have unintentional unpredictable consequences. An academic and blogger Zeynep Tufekci, a commentator on sociology, media and technology, was following the social unrest in the St Louis suburb  of  Ferguson  after  the  police  shot  an  unarmed  young black man Michael Brown.
  • She noted that whilst her Twitter feed was full of  reports  from  Ferguson,  nothing  appeared  on  Facebook  and  the Ice  Bucket  Challenge  was  all  she saw.  Overnight  as  the  Facebook algorithm worked its filtering stories began to appear, but long after the first reports and discussions. Facebook’s algorithm had decided that the ice bucket challenge was of more interest then the unrest in Ferguson.
  • It was Twitter with its less filtered approach to sharing of news that brought the story to global audiences and not mainstream news institutions.
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The future of social media and news

·         Bell argues that traditional journalist need to create news spaces that use their own technology which is independent of existing sites and does not rely on others to share its content.

  • She states this is essential if the news industry is to survive and be rigorous, but it is the technologists who seem to be ahead of the game, not the traditional press. 

  • eBay founder Pierre Omidyar has funded one of the first news sites that are designed to incorporate the rigorous journalistic standards with the so-called transparency of the web. 
  • They claim that their content will not be governed by the need to secure advertising revenue (something which traditional news institutions still rely on to survive) and that they will be not-for-profit.
  • There will be editorial decisions made by actual journalists not ad hoc by technologists or engineers and that Omidyar’s involvement in the news site is nil. A pet project or a real challenge to traditional news? Only time will tell.
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Title card 5

Fake news

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Fake news is one or more of the following

1.   News items that are incorrect (based on an error or when new information shows earlier reports to be wrong).

2.   News items that fail to question the information presented to the reporter.

3.   News items that have been written from only one point of view or are biased.

4.   News items that are knowingly fabricated.

To  add  to  the  confusion  over the term, some politicians have begun  to  use  the  term  ‘fake news’ when they are questioned by  journalists  to  discredit  any interrogation  of  their  attitudes or behaviours.   This   way   of using the term is incorrect, but as  more  public  figures  use  the term to dismiss a difference of opinion or to avoid addressing criticisms, then it is likely that this way of using the term will start to be more accepted.

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Type 1: incorrect news

  • Errors in journalism are common.
  • This isn’t really ‘fake news’ as  such  although  it  can  lead  to  people  being  and remaining misinformed.
  • Most news sources either publish a correction in the next edition or edit an online story with the changes made at the bottom.
  • The job of fact-checking has moved from sub-editors to journalists due to profit cuts from free news
  • People need currency in news and therefore, journalists regularly deal with breaking news.
  •  Journalists will add to the story as more information comes to light.

  • Breaking news means journalists are often writing stories before they have all the details so journalists may have to guess some.

  • Audiences may not realise journalists are guessing and may think they know the facts.

  • When a news item is breaking journalists tend to rely on social media and eyewitnesses

  • These eyewitness accounts maybe biased due to not having all the details.

  • News sources are under pressure to be the first to publish a story.

  •  A slow and more measured approach may lead to more accurate reporting, but it can also risk losing audience members to other news sources.

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Case study for issue 1

The Channel 4 News Team

During  the  news  broadcast  of  Channel  4  News  on March 22nd 2017, the programme gave the name of who they thought was the attacker in the Westminster Attack  earlier  that  day.  Later,  it  was  discovered  that this information was incorrect and the person they had named was actually in prison and so could not have carried out the attack. This isn’t really ‘fake news’ as this type of misinformation

is      accidental      and news   sources   try   to make sure they are as accurate  as  possible. They     also     try     to ensure  that  mistakes are corrected as soon as they can to  stop

the  spread  of  incorrect  information.  In  this  case,  the regulatory body for broadcast news, Ofcom criticised Channel 4 News and Channel 4 apologised for the way they handled the story.

In a statement, the broadcaster said the mistake came during a “fast-moving story” and that Channel 4 News had “moved swiftly to correct and clarify the facts as conflicting information came to light”.

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Type 2: They fail to question information they rec

  • Journalists are accused of fake news when they fail to challenge the information they receive.
  • The BBC was accused of failing to realise many arguments in the Brexit debate were false.
  • The BBC have to provide non-biased reporting but are criticized when they fail to spot mistakes or misinformation.
  •   The  BBC  have  been  criticised  forgiving  climate- changes  deniers  and an equal  amount  of  time  in  debates  about  topics such as the impact of greenhouse gasses, fossil fuels and changing weather  conditions.
  • Some  argue  that,  as  the  majority  of  scientific studies in this field agree that climate change is real and is in some way impacted on by human behaviour, they should not be asked to engage in a debate with people who don’t believe in it.
  • Many climate change deniers work directly or indirectly with companies or pressure groups  who  benefit  from  stopping  behaviours  that  seek to reduce climate change.
  • Journalists in the US was also criticised for not challenging many incorrect statements and claims made by Donald Trump during the 2016 American Election.
  • By not challenging statements, for example, that Mexican migrants  were  ‘flooding’ into  the  US  (when in  fact, more Mexicans are leaving the US than arriving), the US news media may  have  allowed  misinformation  to  be  seen  as  being  ‘truth’ and so, unwittingly been part of the creation of 'fake news'.
  • Some have argued that it was difficult for journalists to keep up with the amount of  misinformation  given  out  by  Trump  during  his  campaign  and since he was elected.
  • Trump’s confidence can make him seem very convincing and so it is inevitable that some of the misinformation he has communicated will be seen as ‘facts’ by some.
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Type 3: News written from one view

  • Again, this is not strictly 'fake news', but is biased reporting. Biased reporting is widespread in British Newspapers as there are no rules to  stop  a  newspaper  from  supporting  a  specific  political  party  or ideology.
  • Newspapers have editorial policies to define what a newspaper thinks about certain issues.
  • The Daily  Mail,  The  Express  and  The  Sun  are  conservative whilst The Guardian and The Mirror are left-wing.
  • Political viewpoint will shape how stories are written.
  • Broadcast news must be apolitical on stories
  • Some values are preset and not an issue in broadcast news such as murder being bad and capitalism being accepted.
  • Newspapers usually feature opinion-led or satirical articles to compete with online news.
  • Extreme views in newspapers is usually a form of clickbait to get more readers.
  • Opinion-based articles are usually very clear and therefore, aren't seen as fake news
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Type 4: News that is known to be fake

  • This   is   where   an   article   is written knowing it is incorrect.
  • There are many reasons why fake news may be created and circulated.
    •  The two main ones would be to make money or to change opinions for a specific political purpose.
  • Fake news gets websites more click and creates advertising money. Like other types of click-bait, fake news is often shocking to generate clicks.
  • Fake news covers both hard and soft news.
  • Fake news can create negative views of political candidates and can sway voting habits.
  • This type of fake news is created with a very specific political agenda and will use social media to target stories towards people who may be politically sympathetic and so, less likely to query the truth of the story being presented.
  • Fake news has the potential to undermine democracy.
  • Many people receive links to stories via social media instead of a news site, which allows fake news to spread.
  • Facebook has been criticized for having fake news on the platform and now allows users to report news they think is fake. Unfortunately, this can take some time. 
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Case study for issue 4

Case Study: Pizzagate

During the  2016  US  election campaign, a  fake news story was generated that linked  Hillary  Clinton with a pedo ring. The story claimed that this ring was run out of the basement of a pizza restaurant in Washington. The story was spread on social media and repeated in the Turkish press. The story led to the owners and workers at the pizza restaurant receiving threats and online harassment as some people apparently took the story to be true. A link to the story was tweeted by Michael Flynn saying “U decide - NYPD Blows Whistle on New Hillary Emails: Money Laundering, Sex Crimes w Children, etc. ... MUST-READ!” Flynn who was Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor for a short while after Trump became president.

The circulation of this fake news story culminated in a man firing three shots in the restaurant as he ‘investigated’ the allegations.  Fortunately,  no one was harmed but later 28% of Americans in a poll still believed the story or were ‘not sure’ that it was false. 46% of Trump voters, however, still thought the story was true. Subsequently, the FBI has investigated the possibility that there was Russian involvement in the generation and circulation of the story.

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