Critically evaluate the extent to which the key economic/technological challenges facing political journalism in the UK democracy are undermining the ability of the quality news media to play the role demanded of them within competitive and participatory democracies (as defined by Stromback). The quality of the Uk’s new’s media is often scrutinised and mocked for their unashamed bias political opinions, going back to the fundamentals of journalism and the diversion of right and left wing politics, it was inevitable that quality news would disintegrate into a playing field for them to dig the opposition.
However, the cause of this could be down to economical and technological challenges facing the news media today, along with the decrease in political interest came the rise in commercialisation.
Competitive and participatory democracies include a range of requirements from journalists to act a certain role in society.
As described in The Future of Journalism in Advanced Democracies “a competitive democracy requires of journalism the following: it should act as a watchdog or burglar alarm” giving the public the honest and truths within politics for them then to make and adequate decision based on sufficient information. A participatory democracy “requires that journalism should mobilise the citizen’s interest and participation in public life” it also states that journalism should “focus on the solving of problems and not just the problems themselves. (Anderson & Ward, 2006: 47) There are a range of economical factors, which have affected the quality of news and the role in which they are depicted to play in competitive and participatory democracies, as defined by Stromback, therefore, these have effected the roles in which journalists play in society. Increased Leisure has become a challenging factor in competing with other entertainment provisions; the various opportunities such as Sunday shopping have proven a negative impact on Sunday newspapers.
Sunday has always been a day of rest, therefore before technology had evolved people would spend this time reading newspapers and conforming an opinion based on the quality news provided, “if we are to understand what media communications people are actually exposed to and what message content they actually receive, it makes sense to ask how people come to pay attention to a particular medium; in short, why are people moved to watch, listen to, or read a particular program or story? ” (Alger, 1995: 33) ince this as drastically changed it has resulted in the commodification of news media and undermining the quality of news by selecting stories and information which attract the public’s interest and not necessarily stories of important and prominence. “Journalism has always entertained and as well as informed. Had it not done so, it would not have reached a mass audience. But today, say journalism’s critics, the instinct amuse is driving out the will, and depleting the resource, to report and analyse in depth. (Hagreaves, 2003: 104) In addition to this, social fragmentation has multiplied and caused a decline in cohesion; at one time it was clear that there was only a limited number of views, which brought together a large number of people who had the same ideologies and preference. Now, due the increased number of major media corporation and accessibility to over-seas news there has been a massive break down in social groups.
This gives the market only to options, to either supply to a niche market, targeting a particular social clad which would cause a massive loss in profit and interest for the media corporation or, to continue to target the mass market and conform to commercialization and sensationalism to attract the reader. Large corporations need the funds to run the ‘business’ and without this would simply mean a decline and eventually a complete collapse and therefore they have to rely on either readers or sponsor each wanting a certain type on context.
Further economical challenges facing journalism today include that increased wealth has led to the ‘culture of contentment’ theory written by Galbraith. This has resulted in the lower-class, those with fewer beneficiaries has caused a lack of interest in news media, this is due to the under class choosing to almost ignore the current political situation as it does not affect them for any good reason. “Many of the national papers are overtly and emphatically partisan.
The ownership and editorial orientation are overwhelmingly toward the Conservative party and ideology, and the trend toward ownership concentration over the past couple of decades has intensified the press skew towards the Conservative party. ” (Alger, 1995: 408) This shows that the upper classes fail to think about the future consequences of political decisions, as all of the UK’s news corporation are privately owned it means that the ball is in their court, however, due to the decisions being made and the lack of public interest displayed in the news media today it has unintentionally ‘shot itself in the foot. This has then led to a reduction in political interest, due to the “compression of the gap between right-wind and left-wing politics” (Anderson & Ward, 2007: 27) this occurred as a result of commercialization, as news media started to concentrate on market values rather than the role they where traditional made for it became apparent that editors where increasing the number of stories which aligned with their political stance and more so, they would glamourize this by omission of important information.
It system became blurred and peoples views on politics had changed, the traditional bonds and conformations had broken down. The under class would consider the future benefits of their decisions, they would condone things which in the long run would serve them greatly however the upper class ignored the future consequences of their decisions and this led to a collapse in political conforms. Today is the perfect visual representation of the extent to which this has occurred; the current coalition government is a product of the news media and the lack of adequate and sufficient information.
Other change that evolve and continually challenge political journalism are technological and at the fast pace it is moving news media is finding it difficult to conform to traditional news values and keep the quality of news among the most popular. The development in multi-channel television has created fragmented viewing habits for the audience; this has led to a decline in some of the highest forms of quality news such as, The 10 O’clock News.
This has led to conglomeration and concentration of ownership, which creates a dominated market of privately owned corporations. Although this plays an essential part in reducing costs and pressures of news media it often conforms to market driven attitudes that are in complete opposition to the roles depicted by competitive and participatory democracies. “Murdoch’s orientation towards his newspaper “properties” is a centerpiece of the current trend. As he has said: “All newspapers run to make profits….
I don’t run anything for respectability”. Therefore, today’s quality newspapers “have descended to the slimy and sensational- a process that might better be called Murdochization. ” (Alger, 1995: 408) This also led to the declining diversity in news provisions, as competition increased it was soon wiped-out by the conformation of large corporate companies which where then driven away from their traditional role to act as a watchdog and instead, more often than not, conform around commodification such as Murdoch’s. The most nfluential and fast-paced form of technology affecting the quality of news media has to be, the birth of the Internet; this offers unlimited access to news providers all over the world and outside of the journalism profession. “ ‘What the hell were we all smoking that weekend? Is the question now asked at Time Warner, according to Rupert Murdoch, reflecting upon the decision by Time Warner to sell itself into a merger with American Online at the very peak of dotcom valuations, with the result that it inflicted huge, medium term misery on it’s own shareholders. (Hargreaves, 2003: 237) The Internet was curated by news media and only to be the destroyer, since the birth of the Internet the quality of news in traditional newspapers and television has plummeted only to become the start of another line of challenges facing journalist’s everyday. The internet expanded the news media market excessively creating a mass amount of jobs, “there were so many jobs, it became difficult to recruit people into journalism training courses” (Hargreaves, 2003: 236) Newspapers where now battling not only with their paper based competition, but a whole new level of news media.
As the online market grew at a phenomenal rate its affects on newspapers included trivialisation and commercialisation, as they had to compete for the readers. Newspapers where in decline “fewer people are reading these newspapers and circulations continue their steady decline from the peak year of 1989 reflecting, at least in part, the expansion of local radio, the spiraling costs of newsprint and growing access to the internet. (Allan, 2005: 140) Journalists ethics where thrown out the window and instead superiority was given to market values, again this moves away from the traditions of the news role in UK democracies. However, without the internet, news media would have never reached the mass audience it has. It became possible to communicate all over the world which led to word news, “the global nature of the new communications network means that individuals can consume journalism all over the world. This allows journalists to, in one sense increase their skills to act as the watchdog role over society, “journalism today is a two-way street or rather a multidirectional process of boundaryless space” which gives them the ability to give us information which has prominence to us. Although this has created massive opportunities in some respect, it will always revolve around profit hungry organisations, one would not exist without the other. With the increase in technology an increase in a journalist skill also applies, the newsroom requires a multi-skilled journalist to be able to source and construct relevant stories.
However, due to the decreasing news media market journalism has been led to ‘downsizing’ therefore, journalists are now required to do more, with this comes a failure in the idea of democratic media, omission being one of the key factors undermining todays news media quality. As journalists become pressured it is apparent that a lack of important information can be an accidental mistake, “Evidently more journalists than ever are feeling alarmed about their professions credibility problems with the public, due in part to their perception that standards of accuracy are in decline. (Allan, 2005: 6) With an endless amount of content, this is inevitably going to apply to news media if they continue to make cuts; this in itself proves the undermining role of quality news in todays democracies, they are willing to sacrifice the important information and acting as a watchdog role, over making cuts to increase on profits. As the internet continues to build a news media empire, newspapers are inclined to follow suit and this is where the lack of journalist ethics appears. Editors, pressured by intense competition for readers, demand that staff cut ethical corners; and competition among staff encourages some to respond” (Hargreaves, 2003: 221) with the pressures to downsize journalists are forced to reconcile their role in society and conform to the multi-news corporations and their needs for increased profits.
This has also resulted in a decline in independent journalist sources, newspaper are now relying on PR material to build a sustainable story, however, this causes the quality of news to disappear completely, they are building a headline to attract the viewer and then using bogus, second-hand information and sources to build the context. “The majority believes that the news media pay too little attention to complex stories. ” (Allan, 2005: 7) This is a result off multi-corporate news organisations who often ignore the role in which journalism should play in the UK’s democracies defined by Stromback. Journalists in a commercial setting are primarily working for their shareholders’ profits” (Hargreaves, 2003: 178) as a result the quality of news has decreased and it merely concentrates on entertainment news. To conclude, quality news has decreased as a result of technological and economical challenges. The extent to this bares down to the journalist and their ethics, most of which have conformed to different ideologies by large news corporations.
The role in which Stromback demands of the UK’s political journalism is highly unachieved in today’s society; this is due to the increased pressures from large competition in the global news media market today. “Underlying this global expansion are specific economic factors, First, media products have relatively low reproduction costs. Second, they can be resold without requiring any additional outlay by producers, and hence once production costs are covered, they generate pure profits for their owners. (Curran & Gurevitch, 2005: 94) It has become an unavoidable need to concentrate on the market values due to the high number of privately owned news corporations, as a result of this journalist ethics and intentions within a democracy, outlined by Stromback are completely ignored. The news media is now in a situation where it coexists with market values, it is unavoidable and an inevitable fact that this has resulted in the commercialisation and sensationalism of quality news. British local press is characterized by a sustained decline in the number of published titles, publisher’s readers and circulations although, paradoxically, this decline coexists with robust and expansive advertising revenues and profits. ” (Allan, 2005: 141) it is now unavoidable and can not be undone, without multi-channel television or the birth of the internet would not have come this global force which allows the public to explore willingly, the news media, whether it is written professionally or not. Word Count- 2265