Trust?

March 11, 2009

There was one major story that most newspaper missed some weeks ago – probably because it was negative against the British media.

The Media Standards Trust (MST) harshly criticized almost everyone in the British media, from newspapers to the Press Complaints Commission  (PCC).
The report was titled “The Need for Reform – is self-regulation failing the press and public?”

One of the other main issues in the report is that the public don’t trust the newspapers anymore. In fact, only 7% trust newspapers to behave responsibly and 75% believe that papers frequently publish stories which they know are not true.

The reason for this it the financial pressure and the introduction of the internet that increases the inaccuracy because of the desire to get stories on to the net faster.

Financial pressure on newspapers these days is a problem but it is unfair to blame the internet and the 24 hour news channel for creating the lack of trust. The trust comes because journalist, once again, feed the public with celebrity and sensational stories, not true investigative journalism.

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Fox News

March 11, 2009

I normally enjoy to read Esquire and I just finished this article about Shepard Smith at Fox News. According to the article “Shepard is in Fox News’s DNA”, if that is good or bad, you are the one to decide, but it is definately contraversial. To quote the article:

“Fox News really is different from its competitors, not just for the way it treats ideology but for the way it treats television. Its DNA — like Shep Smith’s DNA — is rooted in local news, in tabloid news, in rebels who like working for the Man, in anchors and executives who have been number one year after year and are still so aware of where they came from that they can keep a straight face when they, like Sharri Berg, claim, “We are the underdog.”

It is though clear that Fox News are not the underdog, however it will be interesting to see the new place that Shep Smith & Fox will take in the post-Bush world. It is the same for the very entertaining, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. What position they will take towards the administration will be very interesting to follow, hence I was also very disappointed that the journalist writing the article never asked Shep Smith about this. Barack Obama promised Change and the world has indeed Changed since he came into office. How will Fox react to this? How will the react to a change in The War on Terror? And about the Daily Show – Bush was clearly more funny than Obama.

but back to Fox News – Fair and Balance – as their slogan is lying…ehh saying.

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San Francisco without a newspaper?

March 11, 2009

We are talking a lot about the End of Journalism in our course, a bit depressing the amount of guest speakers we have had that have declared that there is no future in our trade. Nevertheless, they might be right. In the US the financial crisis has hit the newspaper with many publications having to close down or sell their stocks. This BBC article describes how the venerable San Francisco Chronicle might be forced to stop printing. If that happens that would mean there would be no paid-for newspapers in San Francisc0. Just to remind you, California would have been the 9th richest country in the world if it wasn’t a part of the USA.

Other newspapers are in trouble as well, most famously was the news that the Tribune Company (Chigaco Tribune, LA Times, Baltimore Sun etc.) filed for bankruptcy. At the New York Times they have called in one man to save the: Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, however it might take more than just one man. The BBC article blames the crisis on one thing: Free Content.

That is too simple an answer, and more importantly, it is too passive. There have also been crisis in the media world and the issue about free content is just another one, like the Internet was 10 years ago, as the change in Wapping in the 1980s, or the changes with the television. Newspaper have always been fighting to survive. On the 16th of March it is 10 years ago since Metro launched its free newspaper in London and back then people laughed at them. Therein lies the problem, the journalists didn’t take the threat serious, didn’t develop with the same speed as the free papers and they are now trying to catch up.

Free content is not the end of journalism it is just another challenge.


Shaping the world

February 1, 2009

I have a confession. I love…..the internet. One of the reasons is TED with its many interesting and inspiring talks. One of them is really good for us future journalist to read and that is Alisa Miller’s talk on the state of international news in America.

And now you are there, my personal favourite talk is Ken Robinson’s talk on education, should be compulsory for everyone to watch.


Scoop

January 30, 2009

BBC’s European correspondent Mark Mardell answers my question on breaking a story on his blog.


BBC’s Greatest Problem

January 24, 2009

With the recent row in the media over the Gaza appeal and whether or not to show it. BBC is once again showing the problems when journalism has to be impartial. It is a difficult situation to be in but I must say that I agree with International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander when he said that:

“I think the British public … can distinguish between support for humanitarian aid and perceived partiality in a conflict.”

It is true that the Middle-East is probably the most difficult area in politics to cover because there is no ultimate Truth. Hence, we see the true limitations of “impartial journalism”. Reuters is in the same dilemma but they don’t have to write good long features or investigative journalism, therefore it is easier for them to stay impartial. However, if one wants to write good journalism, one also have to be subjective and biased. One of my favourite journalist of all times is Hunter S. Thompson (I strongly recommend Gonzo the new film that came out recently to any journalist student). One of the most famous quotes from him is about Nixon:

“Some people will say that words like scum and rotten are wrong for Objective Journalism — which is true, but they miss the point. It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place. He looked so good on paper that you could almost vote for him sight unseen. He seemed so all-American, so much like Horatio Alger, that he was able to slip through the cracks of Objective Journalism. You had to get Subjective to see Nixon clearly, and the shock of recognition was often painful.” – Hunter S. Thompson

I could not say it better myself. Nevertheless, I must stress that when I do believe that journalism should be subjective I also think that the journalist should always makes his view points clear to the public. One of the great journalist in the Middle-East, Robert Fisk from the Independent writes some of the most biased journalism but also some of the best.

Every journalist is a product of his environment (though every journalist wants the environment to be a product of him or her), so because of the cultural background and past, the journalist can never stay 100% impartial. But if the journalist makes it clear, then the reader can take out the “bias” and enjoy good journalism.

The future of journalism will be more biased, especially when it comes to some few specific issues like European politics, the Middle-East and the “clash of civilizations”. The reason for this change in journalism is because of the massive control of the media. Britain now got more PR workers than journalists and Israel showed us how journalist will have to work in the future (away from the action). This control will hit back because no journalist will never accept censorship or limits to do his work and then the journalist will  turn against the politicians and PR workers.

To end with another Hunter S. Thompson quote:

“So much for Objective Journalism. Don’t bother to look for it here — not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.” – Hunter S. Thompson


The Guardian

January 24, 2009

Harriet Sherwood from the Guardian said in a talk she had at City University last year that “The Guardian is not a newspaper with a website but a website with a newspaper.”

I use guardian.co.uk everyday and especially during the American election when the coverage was fantastic. Michael Tomasky’s blog is great because of the small videos that he uploads. The day after I wrote my “change” entry on this blog he uploaded a short video on the same topic.

The way that the Gurdian uses its website is a little peek into the future, very interactive and updated quite often. The hardest thing – as we all know – is how to make money in the newspaper world but because of the structure of the Guardian they don’t have to worry as much about that, so instead they can focus on making good journalism online. The only news website that just get a bit close to the Guardian.co.uk is news.bbc.co.uk.