Media Production: Television and Radio

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Mac 201 essay:
Critical Analysis of News

Conor O’Neill
Media Production: Television & Radio
Bf44rl@sunderland.students.ac.u
Analyse the selected television news extracts (from the screening) showing your understanding and ability to apply Personalisation and impartiality to your own critical discussion. In this essay I will analyse ITV 1, BBC 1 and Channel 4’s News programmes. I will give detailed definitions of impartiality and personalisation; I will investigate the concepts of personalisation and impartiality and use them to critically evaluate the news. I will examine how these three news broadcasters incorporate personalisation and impartiality into their news programmes. I will now discuss the concepts of personalisation and define what personalisation is. ‘Personalisation wherever possible, events are seen as the actions of people as individuals thus the NHS cuts may be put on an agenda by Baby X not getting the operation s/he needs,’ (Branston & Stafford, 1996: 138). Branston and Stafford, imply that personalisation within the news is reporting the news and relating it to the general public or a social issue. This example of the NHS making cuts, and effecting baby x can be reported in a certain way that it affects the general public. For example, ‘you’ the viewer can suggest an individual person or social group being affected by something in the news. In this case the subject of a baby provides a human interest in the news story. Williams claims that, ‘There is no subject, no abstract thing that cannot be translated in terms of people’ (Williams, 1958: 220). An example of this concept in recent news is in The Sun newspaper, there is a story about the recent re-imprisonment of one of Jamie Buglers killer. ‘The Sun’ have set up a petition demanding the government to reveal the official reason for his return to jail. The newspaper then encourages the readers to add their names to a petition which they had set up on their website www.thesun.co.uk. This is an attempt to directly involve and engage with the reader, emotionally pulling them in by personalising the language. Private personalisation within the news has resulted in the news becoming dumbed down and info-tainment. There is an increasing amount of news broadcasters using personalisation in the news, wether it is citing the public, polls, public opinion, texts, online forums emails, vox pops, or the use of celebrity personalities, by using Twitter, Facebook or the broadcast forums. ‘The infotainment debate is an argument about the relationship between television and public life……according to the prevailing wisdom, TV news ought to conform as much as possible to the existing generic format of a serious newspaper’ (Creeber, 2001: 118-119). An example of infotainment can be seen when the news of John Terry’s affair was published. This story received more press converge than the upcoming general election. This asks the question, is the general public more interested in the sex life’s of footballers than an election that will affect their lifes?

I will now move onto define the word impartiality; impartiality is defined as a, ‘sound practice that makes clear distinction between news reports and expressions of opinion. News reports should be free of opinion or bias of any kind’ (American Society of Newspaper Editors, 1923 in Allan 2004:22) In other words news broadcasters are legally required to broadcast unbiased and balance news reports. Ofcom state that news broadcasters have ‘to ensure that news, in whatever form, is reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality’. (www.ofcom.org.uk/tv/ifi/codes/bcode/undue/) Impartiality associated with objectivity ‘the word objectivity is rarely used by regulators, but is substituted by words such as ‘impartially’, ‘accuracy’, ‘balance’ and ‘fairness’ ‘they use a set of devices that they can argue that their reporting is unbiased’ (Creeber, 2001: 117) Habermas (cited in Bromley) argues that, “ in...
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