Realism

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The News: Realism, Narrative and Form

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The questions of Realism, bias and representation take us back to the material we looked at in the first two weeks of the course. As I have tried to stress, when we look at the issue of "realism" and the "representation of reality" in the media we have to be aware of the fact that the media always presents a "mediated" version of that reality, on its own terms. Sociological, political, cultural and ideological influences determine the way in which the media presents (or constructs) reality to us, as does the all-important influence of financial and economic factors. Also, in terms of the forms and conventions of media texts themselves, media texts re-package "reality", presenting events in terms of "stories", with a structure ("beginning., middle and end"), with characters and from a particular point of view. This takes us back to the work we looked at in the second week of the course, on Narrative.

If we look at the News we can see that various political, social and cultural factors do impinge on the version of "reality" which the News presents to us. British News may well deal with international affairs, but its main focus is likely to be British in focus, as opposed to the News presented by CNN or the American TV news programmes. Furthermore, the News organisations (BBC, ITN, Sky News etc.), are bound by British legal and political constraints, as regards questions of taste, decency, balance etc. Various events have, in recent years, demonstrated the conflicts of interest which can arise here, as for example occurred in the 1980s with the Falklands War, the Miners Strike, or more recent coverage of the Gulf War and Northern Ireland. Because of the nature of the patterns of ownership, and mechanisms of control and moderation which govern British news broadcasting, the balance and fairness of British news broadcasting has come under question in recent years. The work of the...
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