Wednesday, 25 November 2009

News Agenda Written Analysis

The term ‘News Agenda’ is what the news is, and where it comes from. It’s a form of deconstructing the complexity of news, and analysing it piece by piece to gain a further and more detailed understanding of how news works. As a topic, news agenda also reveals the audiences and their relationship with journalists, and the age and gender of the readers of the newspaper.

Journalists have a love-hate relationship with audiences, yet they also respect the audience by making the news interesting and factual for them to read. The journalists may talk about their readers, because nowadays there are more opportunities to know who your audience is, mainly because they pay the wages. Newspapers and radio stations claim that it is tough to find an audience, but tougher to keep it due to their constant reading, and craving for fresher and more influential news. Within the news agenda, we discussed the social grading of the general public. ABC1’s deemed to be more upper middle class to lower middle class people, whereas the C2DE’s were people within the working class or on the lowest levels of subsistence.

The Independent, published in 1986 and produced by ‘Newspaper Publishing’ was created with the advertising slogan “It is. Are you?” in order to compete with the Guardian for centre and left wing readers, but also to battle The Times as a newspaper. Its main audience centres on the age band of 25-44 year olds, with 55 per cent of all ages being male readers. The source for this information can be found on the NMA Facts and Figures website for The Independent’s rate card [1]. The audience for the Independent is more within the middle class, professional people in administrative and even managerial employment.
The Independent favours to support Labour, or the left wing party as opposed to the Conservatives in the political battle for leadership, however when founded, the creators of the broadsheet at first intended to compete with The Daily Telegraph and The Times for their audience. Yet, nowadays it is seen as a left-wing newspaper fighting with The Guardian, even though it still has pro-conservative writers within the paper. The Independent also seems to take a tough stance against war stories, after rejecting the idea to go to war in Iraq, along with being against the Israeli “war crimes”. Evidence of their anti-war reporting is in The Independent back on the 7th November, where a report written by Richard Garner was headlined, “Casualties of war: how forces children bear scars of conflict”. Furthermore, the paper is well known for its positivity to the environment, evidence of this being various reports and news stories on environmental situations, not just in the United Kingdom, but worldwide.

BBC Radio Two news bulletins are usually heard throughout the Jeremy Vine and Sarah Kennedy shows, and despite being a BBC broadcast, the news on BBC Radio Two is not necessarily the same as news on, for example, BBC Radio Four. The radio station seems very sympathetic to its audience, for example, this week is the BBC Radio Two ‘Living with Dementia Campaign’ which is inviting dementia sufferers or relatives of dementia sufferers to come on the show and express their experiences of dementia, so I believe that the radio station as a whole looks to have a close relationship with its listeners. As for the news bulletins, they seem to be short and quite informative. To the point, but not too brief, because they have just the right about of information the reader needs and wants to know. As an example, today, 24th November on the Jeremy Vine show there was a news bulletin about a woman who escaped from a Kent prison, so the BBC used the news source of the police to obtain a press conference revealing any further information about the woman who had escaped. The news which is released seems to be brief on political news, and more aimed at entertainment news. On the 24th there was a brief mention on the Iraq war, yet there was a longer bulletin to reveal the release of Susan Boyle’s debut album. Despite the bulletins being short, it is the people like Jeremy Vine and Sarah Kennedy who take pieces of news, or facts of general information and analyse it to a point which interests the audience in a sympathetic, yet informative way. The audience for BBC Radio Two would be more to targeting the lower middle class population and possibly even skilled working classes to a minimum, because of their discussions on entertainment and news releases on sport. The age of their audience would be young because it covers a general variation of topics which teenagers to young adults would have a keen interest in, and I would expect the male-female ratio of listeners to be reasonably even because of the bulletin’s short and varied information being revealed. A source I found shows what actually happens in the BBC newsroom, and even refers briefly to the headlines of BBC Radio Two [2].




Thursday, 12 November 2009

Media Law Lecture-Investigative Journalism

Investigative journalism is where the journalists go off the agenda and decide the agenda for themselves. This is classed as the miscarriage of justice, where people are framed and can go to jail, the legal system has pronounced. Although, 'absence of malice' is where you can never investigate or go off the agenda where you are personally involved, and never do it to exact vengence.

One famous investigative journalist was actually on "Never Mind the Buzzcocks" the other day-Donal MacIntyre. Along with being one of the best investigative journalists in the country, he also fits in well with other Tv shows after appearing on "Dancing on Ice" where he ended up in 2nd place (a fine achievement). For more information on Macintyre or just general information about the BBC Radio Five weekly radio show presenter, here's some background information:

Investigative Journalism, which has as its focus purely private concerns such as the state of health or interesting lifestyles of public figures may not enjoy protection even if the methods used to obtain and check information conform to the 10-point test and are other wise of the highest quality. Central to this test is the idea of the public good and the public interest, and how this is to be the balance against the right of the individuals under investigation to maintain their reputation. Also, it can be shown that there is a high level of public interest in making allegations, and that they are free from malice-then there is a strong qualified privilege right to publish them-even if they turn out to be false.
Libel lawyer David Price states that qualified privilege defence is a must in stories dealing with corruption in some countries, because then definitive proof may be impossible to get a hold of because of censorship or intimidation of witnesses. Another libel lawyer offered this advice to journalists as a news conference, "Always question the reliability of your source. Log each step you take in an investigation. Get independent corroboration, and-above all-put the allegations to the accused".

One other key part of investigative journalism is the protection of your sources. Protection of confidential sources of information is perhaps the key professional duty of journalist because it is like a journalist's code of conduct, and if you give an undertaking you are required by the code to honour that, and you need to take the dientity of the source to the grave. Refusal by journalists to reveal sources of confidential information can lead to prosecution for contempt of court if the journalist defies a court order to reveal those sources.

Subterfuge is simply claiming to be someone you are not. However the in depths points on subterfuge follow here:
  • Normally you must always clearly identify that you are a reporter and that anything said to you could be published.
  • The 'on the record' and 'off the record' debate. 'Off the record' is not really much use, though it is sometimes useful to understand something and get a background briefing, yet you have no choice but to honour an off record undertaking because of the protection of your sources.
  • Taping-the rules are stark-if there is consent then everything said could be quoted. The consent, though, must be explicit and if it is, then a dictaphone in an interview face to face or on the phone (for example, "Do you mind if I tape this?") If the consent is explicit then it is moreorless the equivalent to a signed statement allowing you to tape. Chapter 19 of McNae's explains more about signed statements, claiming that if a journalist is working on a story that has the potential to be taken to court, then they should do their very best to obtain a signed statement from their witness with time and date of the interview (page 332)
  • Finally as journalists, we must not selectively quote and in a dispute. The other person or third parties involved have the right to hear the whole tape-but if there is no consent then we canot use it at all as evidence but we can indeed quote it.
Do look up Donal MacIntyre. I've done a bit of research on him, and he's quite an interesting person to read about and even study if necessary. Enjoy your weekends.


Monday, 9 November 2009

Send our boys home!

Not a topic I'm that keen on when I first pick up a newspaper, but after reading The Independent, along with information that my housemate's friend died in Afghanistan on Sunday night has forced me to resort to the blog in order to send my message across, albeit one which has been replicated over the past four or five years by the general public.

It must be an unimaginable feeling, knowing that your relative is in another continent fighting a war which now has relatively no meaning. At first there was a reason, and a fine one at that-to fight terror, but years later and now our main aim is to train Afghan forces so that they are capable of running their own country. Why should we? Who made us the leaders of their country? Regardless of their situation, and the status of it, why is it that our people have to suffer at the expense of others.
Do not get me wrong, I would respect any member of my family that wanted to go to war, but that wouldn't stop me from quite frankly "bricking" every minute of every day, worrying about their welfare, or whether they have any welfare left on this planet.

Hundreds of British soldiers have fallen in Afghanistan, and for what? For a better world, or simply at the expense of our politicians' errors? The Taliban continue to 'exterminate' every person they see that 'isn't worthy' to roam their lands, but quite frankly, "Who on earth are you?" The answer: Cowards! Forced to hide in their own lands then attack when least expected, how bold is that of somebody who is fighting for what they believe? When I used the word exterminate, I found it topically humorous. Any Doctor Who fans would agree with me when I relate the Taliban to the Daleks. Full of hate and anger, and killing for no real cause or belief-just because they have received an order from a man who has never experienced happiness, so then uses all his power possible to destroy the happiness of others. The Daleks never truly experienced emotions, and the same can be said for the Taliban. No emotions, no feelings, nobody to love. How sad to know this is true.

When my housemate from upstairs revealed the news on Sunday that her best friend's boyfriend had been killed, it stunned me (and trust me it takes a lot for that to happen). The thought that somebody I know well has just been taken from this world, and with no real purpose as to why. Yes he was fighting for his country and may God reward him in his later life, as well as all our other troops, but my main question is what are we fighting for now? Our main target of 'trying' to resurrect the security of Afghanistan recently came back to haunt us after an Afghan police officer shot five of our men during a joint training operation. Then escaped on a motrobike which had been waiting for him, this more or less sums up the irrelevance of this whole operation, and along with that, the controversy of our troops being shot down by allied forces a couple of years ago is barbaric.

Okay people reading this may believe me to be a naive young man who still has a lot to learn in life-well I agree with you. I do have a lot to learn, but isn't life about learning constantly and increasing our knowledge, and one main thing I urge within this blog post is please send our boys home!
Enough is enough. The old saying of "If it ain't broken don't fix it" doesn't apply because Afghanistan is monumentally broken. However, why try to fix the unfixable? Pardon me for my use of metaphors and similes in this serious blog, but Afghanistan is like Humpty Dumpty-a fragile object which breaks easily-it is already broken and has been for years, and now our best idea is to just leave it and it's terrain and return for the sake of our people, and even our economy. Indeed the recession is worldwide, but do we really think we would be in such bad a state had we not gone to war?

To all our troops fighting for our futures, and even the futures of innocent Afghan people-Thank you. You have the support of the whole nation, and let's pray that one day, you ALL will return home.


Sunday, 8 November 2009

Media Law Lecture-Copyright

Chris introduced this subject of law by calling it "the most boring of the whole module". Yet after the lecture I'd have to disagree. I was quite interested by the facts we were taught, and in my opinion was the best law lecture we've had so far. Indeed many of you may be questioning this, but isn't every person entitled to an opinion?

Copyright is the branch of law that entitles journalism to exist as a business. Development of effective copyright law is the key to the entire industry. Without copyright law there could be no profit, since giving up the rights to copyrights is the way in which we are able to charge money for our work. Any work you do belongs to you until you sell the result of that work to somebody else, and this includes physical work (for example, Chris' garden shed), the provision of a service and to intellectual work such as Journalism.

We then learnt that journalists are more likely to license their work in return for payment (while retaining the ownership of that work). This would work in 3 ways:
  1. If on the staff, fully employed with legal employment protetcion of a newspaper or broadcaster, where almost always your contract of employment will state that you surrender the rights for your work to be exploited. However, the 1988 Copyright Act does reveal that you have 'moral rights' in which you must be identified as the author of the work in question.
  2. As a journalist, you can negotiate a different contract of employment which gives you some rights to money if your work is re-sold. Normally of course the employer will pay less wages if you retain the rights (more likely if you can be a freelance journalist). What this means is that you retain the rights to your work, and license the use to publishers either: exclusively (in return for a lot of money); or non-exclusively (for which they will pay less money)
  3. The 'rip-off'' idea. This phase originated in the 1960s music industry when music publishers would have a pad of buy-out contracts in recording studio groups like The Who. They signed these contracts and recorded their songs for wages.
One thing that was explained to us, was that all commercial rights to any work that we produce on our university course belongs to the university. Any intellectual property in seminar papers or essays belongs to the university, and the university can specify how such work is used. This brought up the question of our blogs. Are they ours? Or is this material we partake in the rights of the university? I'd like to hear the opinions of the group. Who do you think our blogs belong to, and who should they belong to?

Copyright only applies to work that has been done, and doesn't apply to ideas. There is no copyright in facts or information, or in particular numbers or words. In order to be protected by copyright, a piece of work must be original and it must be a substantial piece of work, although sometimes there will be an implicit license to reproduce Crown Copyright material (for example, a press release)

"Lifting" or fair dealing is when:
  • There is no copyright in the facts of a news story, though the actual words are protected by copyright. The reason is that the actual way in which the news story is written is the work of the journalist, as are the actual words in the quotes and as is the interview which may have been taken.
  • An example is a football match. The result is not copyright, but an interview with a footballer IS copyright and that belongs to the person who did the interview.
  • You have to have heard the actual quote yourself. You should not give the impression that you have because that equals MALICE
To finalise tonight's delayed post on Tuesday's lecture of copyright. There is no copyright in ideas. In practical terms you are very safe in re-doing old stories.