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Rafay Khan Assignment 1


Rafay Khan

on 4 December 2012

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Transcript of Rafay Khan Assignment 1

DAILY NEWS Read All About It! BETWEEN THE PRINT Despite declining growth in newsprint industry, Canadians still turn to newspapers to stay in touch with the World around them. Currently there are about 122 daily newspaper in Canada and everyday 1 in 5 Canadian above age 18 buys a daily newspaper, one of the highest ratio in the world. ("Newspapers Canada") This much exposure to newspapers should make us question the type of news we are absorbing from these newspapers.

Newspaper today are not just producing factual news for our society, they are instead producing a mindset by pushing us toward a narrow and generalized path of viewing our world. In this essay I will argue that mass media is influencing our perceptive of the World, by using mass media theories and examining an issue from the largest daily newspaper in Canada: Toronto Star . Ideally, in a democratic society, newspapers should provide their readers with precise and reliable information to support them formulate well thought out opinions on emerging matters, locally and globally. (Mack and Brian 1-72) In reality, however, the news is often produced based on what newsmaker consider important and interesting. This influence readers to have opinions which are similar to the newspaper Newspapers produce news articles in an influential way through adopting professional conventions of news gathering and reporting as mentioned in Organizational theory. According to the theory there are four standardized practices journalists adopt for collecting the news: Journalistic beats: places and institutions where news is expected to occur on a given day. Ex. police station and courthouse.
News Agencies: a third party organization that produce and sell stories to newspapers.
Punditry: News that is prepackaged by politicians and their communication consultants.
Press releases: Strategically prepared written or recorded statements produced for news organizations.

(Mack and Brian 1-72) In reporting the news, newspapers can have information biases which consist of: Personal: focused on individuals rather than institutions, and emphasize human-interest angles and emotional impact over and often at expense of broader social context and political perspectives.
Dramatization: focus on the most sensational, scandalous, and shocking details of a story
Fragmentation: treat stories in isolation, ignoring their connection to other stories and the larger contexts in which they occur.
Authority-disorder: story in conflict or tension.

(Mack and Brian 1-72) EXTRA! To see if newspapers today are influencing our perceptive through news gathering and reporting conventions, let us examine October 9, 2012 issue of Toronto Star, specially an Article titled “Pilot killed in Plane Crash West of Ottawa” by Russel Piffer. This article first informs the readers about the pilot who was killed in a small plane crash by answering who, where, what, and when. To answer the two most important aspect of any news, why and how, the author exhibits information bias trait: personalization, via eye-witness testimony. The newspaper uses the first quote to answer how the plane crashed, from a nearby resident’s perspective: “we heard a little whining- as if something’s trying to breathe- then a really big bang.” The second quote explains why the plane crashed, by framing an eye witness observation as an expert’s opinion: “the sound was almost like there was engine trouble-starting, stopping-then there was a loud noise.” By providing “why” and “how” of this story through eye witness testimony, the author has posed a conclusion to his readers without any factual supporting information. Even though what eye-witness heard might be correct, but by using these quote in the article without any response from appropriate authorities, the newsmakers have influenced readers to believe that the plane crashed because of an engine failure. Before readers have a chance to finish reading the article and formulate their own opinion, newsmakers are suggesting a conclusion to them. In doing so, newsmakers are providing what is known as soft news to their readers, news that looks important and informational but it has no intrinsic social significance. Maybe this article was an isolated case, so let us consider another article and see if it has traits of news gathering and reporting conventions. The next article “Cairo faces quandary keeping peace in Sinai” discusses violence caused by militants in Sinai, a town in Cairo, Egypt. A quick glance at the article reveals traits of news gathering and reporting conventions discussed earlier. Firstly, the article exert dramatization from information biases by using words and phrases like “Bedouin” and “Islamic extremist groups”. By using these words and phrases in an article that discusses violence, the author augments the issue in readers mind because these words are usually associated with chaos and destruction these days. When we think of Bedouin, we think of violent and uneducated groups living in a desert that cannot be controlled. Islamic extremist group alarms the readers even more as they are considered to be a group of individuals responsible for terrorizing the entire World. The newspaper made the issue being discussed even more outrages in readers mind by mentioning: “the resentment has pushed some young Bedouin to joint violent Islamic extremist groups…” Mentioning the two groups together and highlighting “young Bedouin”, the author influence the readers to think that this group is extremely dangerous and will continue to cause destruction as they are young and energetic. To complement the violent and destructive idea, the author attached an image with the article which shows young adults and a burning town. Even though it is apparent from the image that those young adults are bystanders, it provides readers an image of how they are terrorizing the town. Reporting the news in this manner, newsmaker influence readers to think that this violent group should be punished and stopped, even before readers has a chance to investigate the issue in detail. Through dramatization technique, Toronto Star is able to play on readers’ emotions and influence readers to consider the group to be guilty without acknowledging their crimes. The article exerts another characteristic of information bias, fragmentation. The article seems to be from Egyptian government’s point of view. It does not talk about why Sinai population deeply resent the central government nor does it talk about any other stakeholders involved in this issue. The article frame this issue as if Egypt is only main stakeholder, until we read another article covering this issue from a different source: Al Jazeera. After reading the article from Al Jazeera we find out that the issue is not only about 16 Egyptian soldiers getting killed, it is also about Israeli’s safety as, “…16 Egyptian soldiers were killed in an attack in the Sinai near an Israeli border checkpoint.” ("Al Jazeera”) Since the soldiers were killed near Israel’s border, Israel’s officials are worried that people from Sinai might enter into Israel. Providing the information in isolation of Israel’s interest, newspaper influenced reader’s perspective greatly. By reading the article in Toronto Star we thought the issue is about Egypt's safety only, however, reading Al Jezeera’s article we find that Israel will be affected as well if Egyptian government do not control the situation. Fragmented information makes it difficult for readers to understand the big picture since information is incomplete, as a result influence them to formulate bias opinions. If we examine the article more closely, specifically at who wrote this article, we find that the article is not written by Toronto Star, instead it is written by an organization called “Associated Press” (AP). Hence the article is collected from a third party organization via news agency practice. By obtaining news articles from a third party, Toronto Star lose control over the information being conveyed to its readers. Lack of control over the news can damage Toronto Star's reputation if information is misleading or highly controversial.

According to “About us” section on AP’s website:
“The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent news gathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on news gathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.” Image courtesy of [renjith krishnan] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net Image courtesy of [Idea go] /FreeDigitalPhotos.
Suggesting a conclusion without hard facts blocks readers’ ability to investigate the issue further by questioning about people who might be responsible for this crash. For example, plane manufacturer, maintenance crew, or the flight lesson instructor, as the pilot was taking flight lessons. Not questioning “why” aspect of the article risks readers to overlook vital information for formulating an in-depth understanding on this local event. Thus, by reporting news in a personal information bias, newsmaker create narrow and soft news which makes it difficult for their readers to formulate a comprehensive opinion. This sort of news might be good for water cooler talks but, does not bring any social significant to an intelligent society. Learning about AP organizational structure, we see that AP might provide bias information on articles which are against America. Even though AP claim to be independent and not-for profit organization, it is however, owned by American for-profit organization who can pass on their biases to AP. Thus, article obtained via news agency practice reduce control on information and increase risk of information biases, as it is difficult to determine third party's ulterior motives. So why do newsmaker adopt practise that influence readers’ perspective? The simple answer is profits! An organization’s profits are comprised of their revenue and cost. Newspapers adopt news gathering conventions to reduce their cost and news reporting conventions to increase their revenue, therefore, both conventions together increase their profits. It is difficult for newspapers to fill their daily newspaper with detailed news article due to budget constraints. Thus, they gather news articles from a third party organization at a reasonable price which reduces their cost for producing the same article themselves, especially for international news. To increase their revenue, newspapers create news article which are more focused toward entertaining readers rather educating them. As a result, newspapers are able to generate extra revenue by selling more of their copies and attracting numerous advertisers.

News gathering and reporting conventions do work in favor of newspapers, however they damage our society in the process. Readers' perspective is influenced causing them to view local and global events unjustly. Another harm these conventions bring to an intellect society is depriving them of complete information, so they can enhance their understanding and develop thorough out opinions.

To combat these conventions, readers should be critical when reading their newspapers and base their opinions on multiple sources. EXTRA! EXTRA! Friday, October 12, 2012 Rafay Khan
MDSA01-Assignment 1
Associated Press, . "Cairo faces quandary keeping peace in Sinai." Toronto Star [Toronto] 09 10 2012, Daily A9. Print.

"Can Egypt secure Sinai Peninsula." Al Jazeera 10 08 2012, Daily n. pag. Web. 12 Oct. 2012. <http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2012/08/20128106214624974.html>.

"FAQ." Newspapers Canada. Newspapers Canada, 2012. Web. 12 Oct 2012. <http://www.newspaperscanada.ca/about-newspapers/faq-about-newspapers>.

Mack, Robert, and Ott Brian. Critical Media Students An Introduction. 1st ed. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2012. 1-72. Print.

Ressell, Piffer. "Pilot Killed in plane crash west of Ottawa."Toronto Star [Toronto] 09 10 2012, Daily A8. Print. Bibliography
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