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Newspaper as ultimate power Essay

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The controversy of media imperialism questions us as to whether a certain medium (in this case, the newspaper – tabloid, broadsheet, hybrid) is controlled by the publication owner or the managers/editors-in-chief/journalists. They both deliver news and make it possible to be accessed by the reading-public. Proprietors own publication companies and administer the content of the media through a set agenda. Media practitioners are the workers within the business. They operate inside a framework of constructed agreement. Others may believe that the control of media is possessed by the owners, whilst others think that it is the journalists/managers who decide what is to be put in the medium. This issue will be scrutinised by looking at the dissimilar models and related concepts; providing exemplified statements; and finding out if there’s a significant connection between them.

“The class which has the means of material production has control at the same time of the means of mental production…they regulate the production of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch.”

Marx, The German Ideology, p. 39

The capitalist class and government maintain their status quo by manipulating the media content/institution of broadcasting/press and control the public in a conscious manner. These proprietors belong to the more influential part of the society. This is suggested by The Marxist’s Manipulative Model (MM). Proprietors intentionally conspire to put forward their own interests and welfare. They tend to monopolise what is to be included in the medium for their own interest and benefit.

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The Hegemonic Model (HM) of news production proposes that media practitioners gather immediate information from reliable resources within the area where they function the most. HM maintains the norms, values and preserves the society’s ideology via the mass media.

While the HM takes into account newsworthiness, the MM filters the journalist’s articles to ensure that it strictly corresponds within the editorial policy. This suggests that the newspaper industry is a process itself – the article being made by a journalist should pass to the expected content to avoid the hazard of reputation damage.

However, bias is consciously introduced by proletariats since their main focus in on the public interest while media practitioners unconsciously do this.

We should also take in consideration that proprietors/owners carefully choose journalists, etc. who have the same view as the company. This suggests that self-censorship is present and that the owners are superior to them. Media practitioners have to comply with the company’s regulations otherwise, the owner would fire them and hire another practitioner who can follow the status quo of the company.

The MM views the society as two distinct groups namely: the capitalists and the proletariat, whereas the hegemonic considers society to have endless types of groups and positions. For this reason, the two models have different aims and target groups in the general society. The MM adapts the content, taking into account their main their interests; HM – provides articles which can appeal even at the lowest common denominator (the working class of the society).

Owners tailor the out coming news from a set backbone/structure for their own welfare and benefit. Media practitioners consciously choose articles to be published. They take into consideration – immediacy and the reliability of sources. While the reading-public are more interested in true-to-life stories. They are being shaped by the owners of the press on what they should be reading about. However, the pluralists would argue that it is the readers that hold the ultimate power. This is logical since owners want to gain more profit out of the publications they disseminate.

In 1997, the editor-in-chief of The Daily Mail placed the blame for the tragedy on not just the media institutions that constantly filled their papers with stories about Diana, but on the public who bought and craved for such stories. This illustration supports the pluralists that sometimes; the reading-public could have a major influence on what is to be put in the newspaper headlines/articles. Thus, the people buy what they want to read and have the power to simply stop reading a newspaper if they dislike the stories/news coverage within it. ‘Bias’ for pluralists are therefore acceptable since it is the audience choice. This is sometimes called constant selectivity.

However, hegemonies would say that they are the ones who is in-charge of the content of the news the company provides. John Simpson, a correspondent for the BBC went to Afghanistan of his own accord to do a special news report/exclusive coverage there. The choice was of his. He made conscious decisions, as well as the editors, cameramen, etc. for what not to include, what to include, what questions to ask and what not to ask in interviews, etc. This could mean that Media practitioners hold a reasonable amount of power. Obviously, they have viewed the occurrence from their own interpretation. Hence, biased has been introduced.

The proprietors have a great deal of ‘power’ too. In the 1997, time of the British Elections, The Labour Party was obviously going to win with a landslide victory. Rupert Murdoch, owner of The Sun publication, decided to ‘befriend’ the soon to be new government, and so changed the political affiliation of the entire newspaper from Tory to Labour Party. This suggests that the owners have the power, although Murdoch argued from a Pluralist perspective – stating that he was changing to suit the changing politics of The Sun’s readers.

The three parties namely: the proprietors, the media practitioners and the reading-public have a mutual consolidation. The editors will tend to publish things that support the agenda of the owners, the owners will demand things that boost their income whilst pleasing their supporters, and the readers will only buy what appeals to them.

Undeniably speaking, all the three parties have the power to decide what is to be put in the media. Based on the reasons and weighing out of the models, the Manipulative Model still has the final decision for the output of the medium. Owners/proprietors and the government purposely select apt news for publication that suits their interests and benefits them – at the same time, shaping the society on what they should read in the newspapers. They deliberately choose what ideas could possibly fit in the current events to make it successful and later on develop it into a more controlled way.

Indeed, the Marxist’s saying:

“The class which has the means of material production has control at the same time of the means of mental production…they regulate the production of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch.”

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