Differentiating Journalism from Other Media

warThis essay presents an analysis on what differentiates journalism from other parts of the media and communications industry. Social media, public relations and talkback radio will be examined to demonstrate the differences of journalism to other media. To understand what differentiates journalism from these other forms of media one must first understand what journalism is and this will be discussed in the essay.

Journalism is not an easy thing to define and many complex definitions exist. Some have described it as ‘a hybrid, interdisciplinary mix of the humanities and the social sciences’ (Reece, 1999, p.72) whilst others have said it is

a vernacular form of literature, an imaginative practice that emerged at a given historical moment…in relationship to the growth of literacy and above all, the social movement of republican democracy (Carey, in McKnight 2000, p.17).

And ‘it helps us make sense of our world by developing our understanding, learning and intuition’ (Lamble, 2011, p.4). The definitions shown above and many others highlight the five most common roles of journalism, one of these being to act as a mirror reflecting a society to itself and ultimately both the good and the bad (Lamble, 2011, p. 35). Another is to help keep influential and powerful individuals and institutions honest and accountable by exposing them to the sometimes harsh light of public scrutiny (Lamble, 2011, p.35). Journalism also plays the role of an advocate ‘for the good of society by providing a voice…for individuals who have not been able to attain redress or have wrongs righted in other ways’ (Lamble, 2011, p.35). Journalists and news media also have a role to ‘protect and promote democracy and democratic ideals’ (Lamble, 2011, p.35) and, finally, to provide an ‘essential function in telling people in one part of the world what is happening the rest of the world’ (Lamble, 2011, p.35).  Journalism has a ‘code’ of ethics, with some countries having several organisations outlining what these ethics are. In Australia, these ethics are outlined by the Media Alliance’s Code of Ethics, and reflect the values emphasised in the profession of journalism. The code states that the ‘respect for truth and the public’s right to information’ are the ‘fundamental principles of journalism’ (Media Alliance, 2013). Journalists must ‘fulfill their public responsibilities’ (Media Alliance, 2013) with an obligation to reporting with honesty, fairness, independence and respect for other’s rights (Media Alliance, 2013). With these roles of journalism and the ethics within journalism outlined, the differences between journalism and other media is now discussed.

Social media is the most innovative ‘other media’ that differs from journalism. The most common, well-known forms of social media include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, MySpace and Pinterest. Although social media and journalism are both ‘about communication’ (Lipscomb, 2010, Dental Economics), the ethics and values in journalism differentiate it from social media.

Social media enables everyone to have a voice, and share their thoughts and opinions through an array of media…individuals now rely more than ever on the Internet as their exclusive source of information (Lipscomb, 2010, Dental Economics).

As Lamble (2011, p.35) discusses, journalists provide a voice for those who are voiceless, however journalists, generally, provide this voice in an unbiased way. Social media, however, does not always do this. Social media allows for anyone with access to the interest to discuss their opinions on any topic. In recent years, there have been social media phenomenons that have gained a huge global audience but have presented a biased perception on an event or issue. One of those phenomenons, was the 2012 campaign by Invisible Children to raise awareness of child soldiers, specifically those involved in the Lord’s Resistance Army in the Democratic Republic of Congo, under the criminal leadership of Joseph Kony. The large, viral campaign faced criticism for its support of Ugandan military forces that have in the past been corrupt (Trent, 2012). This created much criticism of the organisation and campaign as well as social media in general, for not presenting an unbiased view of the issues facing Uganda and child soldiers. Some negative campaigns were made to encourage people not to support the charity as a protest to their bias, which is one reason why some believe that social media ‘really is an antisocial media’ (Chalmers in Hartcher, 2012). Journalists can also come under such harsh scrutiny for the presentation of issues, as social media did during the Joseph Kony campaign. This demonstrates that journalists should be concerned about journalistic standards in social media as the ethics of journalism are not yet inherent in social media but is currently being treated as such. However, by using the highest journalistic standards on social media, it will eventually be associated with these high standards (Briggs in Higgins, 2013). Therefore journalism differs from social media because of the ethics and standards in journalism that are not yet inherent or forced in social media.

Public relations is another form of ‘other media’ that is different to journalism. The principles of public relations include listening to the customer and conducting public relations as if the whole company depends on it (Huyse, 2006). The public relations profession sometimes collides with journalism as public relations uses media exposure to its advantage. However, the role of public relations does not always coincide with the ethics of journalism. Public relations as a profession exists to serve the client or company and promote their desired message. Falconi writes that public relations professionals ‘elaborate the opinions of her/his client/employer…to the point that [people] may perceive that, yes, all sides to the story have been covered and given an equal amount of relevance’ (2008). With this idea of promoting one person or company in the best possible way, this form of ‘other media’ clearly has different ethics to journalism and ultimately differs in both its purpose as well as its ethics. Experienced journalist and broadcaster, Caroline Jones (Jones for Lamble, 2011, p. 29) has discussed that because of the power of public relations ‘there are barriers now to jump over and…the manipulation of news is a real problem for journalists – manipulation of news by the public relations people’. Jones goes on to elaborate she does not ‘always feel that [she is] getting information from the horse’s mouth’. Therefore, due to the opposing principles and values of the two professions, it can be seen that whilst both professions are considered as part of the media, their principles make them vastly different due to the goals they are trying to achieve.

Talkback radio is also a form of ‘other media’ that differs to journalism. Radio is a form of journalism that has been present for many years. Due to the longevity of radio journalism, many have come to associate a majority of talkback radio programmes with journalism. However, this is not the case. With the introduction of talkback radio, sometimes known as ‘shock jock radio’ due to the controversial ways it discusses topics, journalism and the principles within journalism have become lost on these programmes. Talkback radio involves discussion on events, issues or any topics of interest. Everyone who has access to a phone, or sometimes the internet and an account on a social media site, is able to participate in talkback radio and ultimately voice their opinions. As discussed earlier, principles within journalism allow journalists to aim to give a voice to the voiceless, in an ethical manner. Talk radio differs as anyone can voice an opinion, talk radio hosts do not always serve to keep powerful individuals and companies honest and accountable nor do they have to promote democratic ideals, especially if their audience does not respect these ideals. This ultimately results in ‘a form of entertainment that mimics the forms and practices of journalism but which performs quite different social and political functions’ (Turner, 2009). As the Australian Journalism League has said, although the average Australian isn’t a journalist, they are directly affected by the quality of journalism they encounter (2012). This therefore reflects a need for the distinction between radio journalism and talkback radio in order to preserve the quality and longevity of journalism. Therefore, the ethics of journalism again demonstrate a great difference between journalism and other media, in this case talkback radio which has no governing ethics and is based solely on commercial gain and targeting an audience.

In conclusion, this essay has demonstrated that journalism differs to other forms of media including social media, public relations and talkback radio. The ethics, principles and values of journalism differ greatly to those of social media, public relations and talkback radio, with journalism aiming to be objective and neutral instead of voicing opinions, often in biased ways, and marketing something in the best possible way, emphasising the importance of journalism as a separate entity in the media industry.

References

Australian Journalism League, 2012, ‘Australian Journalism League on Talkback Radio’, Australian Journalism League, 25 October, viewed 1 April 2013 <http://australianjournalismleague.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/australian-journalism-league-on-talkback-radio/>

Falconi, T.M. 2008,‘Objectivity in public relations and journalism: essential for the credibility of both professions, and for different reasons’, PRConversations, viewed 30 March 2013, >http://www.prconversations.com/index.php/2008/01/objectivity-in-public-relations-and-journalism-essential-for-the-credibility-of-both-professions-and-for-different-reasons/>

Hartcher, P 2013, ‘Social media shows its bias’, The Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 30 March 2013, < http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/social-media-shows-its-bias-20121213-2bcmc.html>

Higgins, C 2013, ‘Is it journalism, or is it social media?’, Flip The Media, viewed 2 April 2013, < http://flipthemedia.com/2013/03/is-it-journalism-or-is-it-social-media/>

Huyse, K 2006, ‘Six Principles of Public Relations: But First Develop a Spine’, Zoetica, 7 July, viewed 29 March 2013, <http://www.zoeticamedia.com/six-principles-of-public-relations-but-first-develop-a-spine>

Lamble, S 2011, News As It Happens, Oxford University Press,Victoria.

Lipscomb, J 2010, ‘What is social media?’, Dental Economics, Vol. 100, Issue 4, p. 1.

McKnight, D. 2000, ‘Scholarship, research and journalism’, Australian Journalism Review, 22 (2), pp. 17-22.

Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, 2013, ‘Media Alliance Code of Ethics’, Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, viewed 29 March 2013, >http://www.alliance.org.au/code-of-ethics.html>

Reece, Stephen, D. 1999, ‘The Progressive Potential of Journalism Education: Recasting the Academic versus Professional Debate’, The Harvard International Journal of Press Politics 4.4, pp.70-94.

Turner, G 2009, ‘Politics, radio and journalism in Australia: The influence of talkback’, Journalism, 10 4: 411-430

2012, ‘KONY 2012: Phenomenon or Fraud?’, blog post, Trentobento, March 8 2012, viewed 29 March 2013, < http://trentobento.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/kony-2012-phenomenon-or-fraud/>

Bibliography

Australian Journalism League, 2012, ‘Australian Journalism League on Talkback Radio’, Australian Journalism League, 25 October, viewed 1 April 2013 <http://australianjournalismleague.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/australian-journalism-league-on-talkback-radio/>

Falconi, T.M. 2008,‘Objectivity in public relations and journalism: essential for the credibility of both professions, and for different reasons’, PRConversations, viewed 30 March 2013, >http://www.prconversations.com/index.php/2008/01/objectivity-in-public-relations-and-journalism-essential-for-the-credibility-of-both-professions-and-for-different-reasons/>

Hartcher, P 2013, ‘Social media shows its bias’, The Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 30 March 2013, < http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/social-media-shows-its-bias-20121213-2bcmc.html>

Higgins, C 2013, ‘Is it journalism, or is it social media?’, Flip The Media, viewed 2 March 2013, < http://flipthemedia.com/2013/03/is-it-journalism-or-is-it-social-media/>

Huyse, K 2006, ‘Six Principles of Public Relations: But First Develop a Spine’, Zoetica, 7 July, viewed 29 March 2013, <http://www.zoeticamedia.com/six-principles-of-public-relations-but-first-develop-a-spine>

Lamble, S 2011, News As It Happens, Oxford University Press,Victoria.

Lipscomb, J 2010, ‘What is social media?’, Dental Economics, Vol. 100, Issue 4, p. 1.

McKnight, D. 2000, ‘Scholarship, research and journalism’, Australian Journalism Review, 22 (2), pp. 17-22.

Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, 2013, ‘Media Alliance Code of Ethics’, Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, viewed 29 March 2013, >http://www.alliance.org.au/code-of-ethics.html>

Reece, Stephen, D. 1999, ‘The Progressive Potential of Journalism Education: Recasting the Academic versus Professional Debate’, The Harvard International Journal of Press Politics 4.4, pp.70-94.

‘Socialbakers: All Social Statistics’, Socialbakers, 2013, viewed March 29 2013, < http://www.socialbakers.com/all-social-media-stats/facebook/>

Thornton, T 2013, ‘Terri Thornton on Social Media’, OurBlook, viewed 30 March 2013, <http://www.ourblook.com/Social-Media/Terri-Thornton-on-Social-Media.html>

Turner, G 2009, ‘Politics, radio and journalism in Australia: The influence of talkback’, Journalism, 10 4: 411-430

Vallone, R. P. and Ross L and Lepper M. R. 1985, The Hostile Media Phenomenon: Biased Perception and Perceptions of Media Bias in Coverage of the Beirut Massacre, Attitudes and social cognition, viewed 30 March 2013, <http://www.zaxistv.com/sociology/popular%20culture/BiasedPerceptionofMediaBias.pdf>

2012, ‘KONY 2012: Phenomenon or Fraud?’, blog post, Trentobento, March 8 2012, viewed 29 March 2013, < http://trentobento.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/kony-2012-phenomenon-or-fraud/>

Discussion on the importance of National and local news

newsNational and local news is becoming less important in a world characterised by the almost instantaneous circulation of information. Discuss.

This essay will discuss national and local news and its importance in a world characterised by the instantaneous circulation of information. The essay will analyse the concepts of globalisation, global media, national media and local news and the issues involved within these concepts.

Global media and the concept of globalisation are key concepts that help highlight the importance of national and local news in societies with access to instant circulation of news and information. Globalisation in regards to news and the media has been defined as ‘the product of a changing economic and political order, one in which technology and capital have combined in a new multi-faceted imperialism’ (Silverstone, 1999, p 107) and that it ‘refers to the rapidly developing process of complex interconnections between societies, cultures, institutions and individuals world-wide’ (Tomlinson, 1999, p 165). From these definitions it can be seen that, through electronic media, there has been a strong development in the demand for political, cultural and economic stories from other parts of the world. Such stories have developed an ‘interconnectedness’ (Hjavard, 2003) between people of different societies. Often these stories are primarily about conflict and prominence, be it war struggles or political conflict, or high-profile personalities. These stories tend to be discussed at a global level because they capture the public’s interest both quickly and on a large scale. The discussion of such stories has led some to believe that a ‘global sphere’ has developed (Hjavard, 2003). This ‘global sphere’(Hjavard, 2003) is made up of a public that has a transnational opinion which can be quite powerful in causing national change at a national level. In the past we have seen various campaigns both reported and supported by the media that have resulted in important change at a national level because of an overwhelming transnational opinion. Some of these campaigns have included the Kony 2012 campaign and various People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) campaigns. In the case of the Kony campaign, a non-government organisation created a film about the need to capture war criminal, Joseph Kony. Although the film was intended for a United States audience, the film went viral and the global public opinion on the issue led to national change in the United States. ‘The U.S…played a pivotal role in providing equipment, intelligence and training’ (Besliu, Yu, 2012) to the governments of Africa, Uganda, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Not only this, but the ‘U.S. government was demonstrating its commitment to U.S. citizens’ at a political level (Besliu, Yu, 2012). In other campaigns, such as PETA’s ‘Anti-Skins’ and ‘Fur Is Dead’ campaign, multiple fashion designers based in various Western countries banned the use of fur in their designs including ‘Ralph Lauren and Tom Hilfiger’ (PETA, 2013). From these campaigns it can be seen that in societies characterised by instantaneous circulation of information, a global public opinion has become important in shaping change at a national level. Whilst this global sphere and global media has been influential and powerful in political, cultural and environmental instances, it has not made national or local news less important due to factors that will be discussed below.

 

National news and media is still important in a world characterised by the instantaneous circulation of information due to its key features. National media encompasses new and traditional media outlets, including newspapers, television, radio and online papers. Despite the growth of a global media, through the dominance of global media powerhouses including NewsCorp, BBC and CNN, national media is still important to the public, particularly political affairs within the nation. As such, national states are still influential in shaping media systems because, typically, they encompass that nation’s culture and traditions and allows other media systems to assess the successful key components in that nation. Professors like Stig Hjarvard (2003) have discussed the power of the concentration and monopolisation of Western media ownership but have still concluded that

 global media like CNN and BBC World may technically have a near global reach, but the actual audience figures tell quite a different story. Compared to the consumption of nationally based media, that of CNN and BBC World is very limited. (Hjavard, 2003)

Professionals have come to the same conclusion as Hjavard because ‘Opinion formation is still very much tied to the level of national political institutions thus not less important.’ (Hjavard, 2003) because ‘In most countries, these channels [CNN, BBC] are only used as a supplement to the national news media diet’ (Hjavard, 2003). From these conclusions it can be seen that the proximity and impact of news stories is the overriding factor in national media coverage, factors that ultimately appeal to national audiences because, like local news which will be discussed further in this essay, it can directly and subtly highlight how the audience is directly affected by it. This is because whilst ‘the routine, day-to-day decisions and actions related to international politics may often receive news coverage…rarely do they’ (Hjavard, 2003) have an impact on a large national audience. Therefore, key factors of national news, like impact and proximity and effects of stories, highlight the importance that national news still holds, despite the growth of global media.

 

Localisation is a concept that shows the importance of local news in a world characterised by the instantaneous circulation of information. Localisation has been defined as ‘the process of adapting a product or service to a particular language, culture, and desired local “look-and-feel”’ (SearchCIO – TechTarget, 2013). Journalism professionals have also said when discussing localisation in journalistic terms ‘scan globally, reinvent locally’(Zac, 2013). Therefore when applying these definitions to news and media it can be seen that localisation is a process of adapting news, from either a global or national level, and making it local, whether this is by highlighting connections, explaining the effects of a global or national issue or discussing local interests. Often global stories that are adapted into local stories are economic, political, legal or those about high-profile people with a connection the specific local place. The views on such stories presented from a local perspective are often more popular and well received by the public due to the fact that the audience does not believe the local media are primarily concerned with profit over content (McChesney, 2001). Not only this, but the local media is able to present the story and make the content focus on their culture or values. Hjavard (2003) discussed that the European media is an example of the strength of localisation. Hjavard (2003) emphasised that ‘both language and culture are factors working against Europeanization’. This is because Europe ‘exhibits a wide and diverse pattern of languages, cultures…[and] political practices’ (Hjavard, 2003) and also because when stories are presented as globalised stories rather than localised stories, the ‘concept of deterritorialization’ (Hjavard, 2003) is presented because the story does not demonstrate how it relates to the audience or affects them. Such concepts emphasise the importance of the local media in all countries, be it Europe or Australia, as the audience is primarily concerned with the impact of the story. In recent times, the financial struggles in Greece and other parts of Europe was of great interest in Australia as it was directly affecting local Australian businesses and trade as well as Australian and global finances. Therefore it can be seen through the concept of localisation, local news is still of great importance because it highlights the interests, culture, values, as well as its affect, on the local audience.

National and local news is not less important is a world characterised by the almost instantaneous circulation of information. The concepts of global media, globalisation, localisation and the key factors within national media have demonstrated that national and local news still remains important. This is because whilst a global opinion can be powerful and can force changes at national level, not every national issue is given the extensive, or correct, media coverage to create such powerful opinion. This then results in national and local news becoming the strongest outlets to educate and inform their audiences as they are able to demonstrate how a story affects them, bringing in the key factors of proximity and impact.

Reference List:

Besliu, R, Su Y. 2012, The Real Effects of Kony 2012 ,International Affairs Review, < http://www.iar-gwu.org/node/402>

Hjavard, S 2003, News Media and the Globalisation of the Public Sphere, Kommunication Forum, viewed 5 May 2013, > http://www.kommunikationsforum.dk/artikler/news-media-and-the-globalization-of-the-public-sphere<

McChesney, R 2001, Global Media, Neoliberalism & Imperialism, International Socialist Review, Viewed 12 March 2013, < http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/McChesney/GlobalMedia_Neoliberalism.html<

PETA 2013, PETA’s Anti-Skins Campaign: Keeping Skeletons Out of the Closet, PETA, Viewed 9 March 2013, >http://www.peta.org/about/learn-about-peta/skins-campaign.aspx<

SearchCIO – TechTarget 2013, Localization (l10n), SearchCIO – TechTarget, Viewed 10 March 2013, >http://searchcio.techtarget.com/definition/localization<

Silverstone, R. 1999, Why Study the Media? London, Sage.

Tomlinson, J 1999, `Cultural globalization: placing and displacing the West’ in H. Mackay and T. O’Sullivan (eds) The Media Reader: Continuity and Transformation, London, Sage.

Zac, L (2013), Globalization and Localisation, COMM 1059, University of South Australia, Adelaide, 25 April.

Bibliography

Besliu, R, Su Y. 2012, The Real Effects of Kony 2012 ,International Affairs Review, < http://www.iar-gwu.org/node/402>

Hjavard, S 2003, News Media and the Globalisation of the Public Sphere, Kommunication Forum, viewed 5 March 2013, > http://www.kommunikationsforum.dk/artikler/news-media-and-the-globalization-of-the-public-sphere<

McChesney, R 2001, Global Media, Neoliberalism & Imperialism, International Socialist Review, Viewed 12 March 2013, < http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/McChesney/GlobalMedia_Neoliberalism.html<

PETA 2013, PETA’s Anti-Skins Campaign: Keeping Skeletons Out of the Closet, PETA, Viewed 9 March 2013, >http://www.peta.org/about/learn-about-peta/skins-campaign.aspx<

SearchCIO – TechTarget 2013, Localization (l10n), SearchCIO – TechTarget, Viewed 10 March 2013, >http://searchcio.techtarget.com/definition/localization<

Silverstone, R 1999, Why Study the Media? London, Sage.

Tomlinson, J 1997, `Internationalism, globalization and cultural imperialism’ in Kenneth Thompson (ed.) Media and Cultural Regulation. London, Sage, Milton Keynes, Open University Press

Tomlinson, J 1999, `Cultural globalization: placing and displacing the West’ in H. Mackay and T. O’Sullivan (eds) The Media Reader: Continuity and Transformation, London, Sage.

Zac, L (2013), ‘Globalization and Localisation’, COMM 1059, University of South Australia, Adelaide, 25 April.