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Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong 1 Media, Politics and the Environment 1: News Media, Politics and the Environment Week.

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Presentation on theme: "Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong 1 Media, Politics and the Environment 1: News Media, Politics and the Environment Week."— Presentation transcript:

1 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong 1 Media, Politics and the Environment 1: News Media, Politics and the Environment Week 7 March 20, 2013

2 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong Environmental journalism Exploring risks and hazards Translating complex scientific issues into simple language and STORIES Using varied sources: scientists, policy makers, NGOs, business, consumers, involved (e.g., local) people, the general public Major issue areas for environmental journalism today: Climate change Sweet water shortage Environmental justice Population Biodiversity (Source: Bob Wyss: Covering the Environment. How Journalists Work the Green Beat. Routledge, 2008.) 2

3 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong Environmental journalism: history From 1960s: a few news organizations 1400 environmental journalists in the US today 7500 journalists in the world say they cover the environment (IFEJ) Many are part time environmental journalists at smaller scale media (also cover other issues) Origins: outdoor adventure and nature writing Environmental journalism in the mainstream: a) separate “environmental stories” b) as part or aspect of any story 3

4 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong News journalism: 13 story genres 1. Straight news account: No dominant narrative frame other than outlining the basic who, what, when where, why and how 2. Conflict Story: A focus on conflict inherent to the situation or brewing among the players 3. Consensus Story: An emphasis on the points of agreement around an issue or event 4. Conjecture Story: A focus around speculation of what is to come 5. Process Story: An explanation of the process of something or how something works List continued.... 4

5 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong 6. Historical Outlook: How the current news fits into history 7. Horse Race: Who is winning and who is losing 8. Reality Check: A close look to verify a statement or information given by a source 9. Trend Story: The news as an ongoing trend 10. Policy Explored: A focus on exploring policy and its impact 12% 11. Reaction Story: A response or reaction from one of the major players 12. Wrongdoing Exposed: The uncovering of wrongdoing or injustice 13. Personality Profile: A profile of the newsmaker Source: FRAMING THE NEWS. The Triggers, Frames, and Messages in Newspaper Coverage. (Content analysis of first page stories in US newspapers). 5

6 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong Frequency of genres Combative genres: Three genres -- conflict, winners and losers and revealing wrongdoing -- accounted for 30% of all stories. Straight news accounts: 16%-- Explanatory stories (how things work, how they fit into larger trends, or historical context) 12% of all stories. 6

7 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong Environmental journalism Objective journalism vs. Advocacy journalism Which one is more appropriate for environmental journalism in your view? 7

8 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong 8 Objective journalism: The search for truth “Everyone agrees that journalists must tell the truth, but people are befuddled by that the truth means.” Kovach and Rosenstiel: Elements of Journalism Truth: differences in science, religion and journalism

9 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong 9 Journalistic truth Largely based on reporting what someone has said: it is taken on belief that it is true, but should be verified. Sometimes based on what the reporter has seen and experienced first hand.

10 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong 10 Based on experiment and observations, which are tested repeatedly. Can and should be verified. Belief and faith. Usually cannot be verified. Based on what someone has said or seen. Sometimes cannot be verified. Scientific truth Journalistic truth Religious truth Three kinds of truth: What is Truth?

11 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong 11 Towards the journalistic method: “I made it a principle not to write down the first story that came down my way, and not even to be guided by my own general impressions; either I was present myself at the events which I have described, or else I heard of them from eyewitnesses whose reports I have checked with as much thoroughness as possible. Not that even so the truth was easy to discover: different eyewitnesses gave different accounts of the same events, speaking out of partiality for one side or the other, or else from imperfect memories.” The Greek historian Thucydides (5 BC) describing his method

12 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong Accuracy: getting facts right A basic principle of journalism, but the one that is missed the most often due to time pressures, carelessness or ignorance. Accuracy involves checking everything from the spelling of names and facts, to getting quotes accurately.

13 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong Verification of facts Are the statements and facts reported, both accurate and true? “In the end, the discipline of verification is what separates journalism from entertainment, propaganda, fiction or art.” Kovach and Rosenstiel

14 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong 14 Arriving at a reasonably reliable version of the truth takes time Arriving at a reasonably accurate account of any event is a process that could take several days, weeks or longer -Initially, journalists get the facts down accurately as stated by people -Next, they verify these facts, if not the same day, the next day -If there are inconsistencies, journalists should keep checking and verifying and looking for new facts until they feel you a have a complete story

15 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong 15 The importance of good editors Editors play an extremely important role in erifying and checking the integrity of a story: a reporter cannot do this alone. Editors should go through stories line by line checking facts as well as assertions. E.g., if a story reads “according to sources” editors should check. Who are the sources? How many are there? Is it just one? Are there enough sources? Editors can help remove the reporters unconscious biases

16 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong 16 The importance of method Journalism needs to develop a set of objective, transparent techniques and methods for news reporting. Reporters should make clear where information comes from. After a story is published, editors should consider checking with the subjects of the story what they think about it. This will also help reassure the public about the credibility of the press.

17 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong 17 Journalistic dishonesty The most common form of intellectual dishonesty : "journalists who select sources to express what is really their own point of view, and then use a neutral voice to make it seem objective are engaged in a form of deception.” ~ “The Elements of Journalism”

18 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong 18 The meaning of objectivity in journalism The word objectivity is misused to indicate neutrality, or balance. In practice, this is not fully possible. What journalists need to do, is use methods of information gathering and reporting that are objective and transparent (easily understandable by the public). Objectivity as a method: a procedural approach.

19 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong 19 Criticisms of objectivity 1. ‘Sources rulez’: journalists rely on the prominent and elite as their translators or mediators. 2. Objectivity against independent thinking, creativity, imagination, critical perspectives; just a technique by journalists=disinterested spectators. 3. Objective journalists claim they just report and are not responsible for creating news. Objective journalists are amoral.

20 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong 20 Alternatives to objectivity Advocacy journalism (advocating issues, topics, frames, agenda, purpose, argument) Investigative journalism (independent research, in-deep, long projects to uncover hidden facts; often involves conflict with economic or political power holders) Interpretive journalism (causal analysis, explaining meaning) Partisan journalism (serving a political party or group) Public journalism (“news bottom up”: focus on local community members and involving them

21 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong Alternatives to objectivity cont-d Literary journalism (mixing journalism with literature as an art form) Peter Hessler Gonzo journalism (subjective journalism, “first person”, “putting me, the journalist first”: Hunter Thompson) Development journalism (post-1960s, moving out of post-colonial struggle to support modernization in third world countries, mobilize public, public service, etc) 21

22 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong Advocacy journalism Is objectivity possible? Not really Business and politics (power) will always influences sources of journalism Partisan media made an advance recently (e.g., Fox Television) Why not serve the weak, help the powerless and advocate their cause? Health journalism (e.g, “hospice” services) Environmental journalism (e., village impacted by river pollution) Investigative journalism (e.g., labor conditions)

23 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong Advocacy journalism (cont.) Traditionally in opinion journalism (editorials, “Op-eds”) vs. objective news More recently, in specialized newspapers and websites, but also mainstream media Not partisan journalism or propaganda Truthful, accurate, credible Neutral sources – hard facts Instruments of advocacy journalism: Selection of topic (pollution) Selection of frames (ethical: wrongdoing; sustainability; green politics) Selection of sources (polluting business company vs. victims and green NGOs) Opponents may receive less space in article/program

24 Journalism and Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong Advocacy journalism (cont.) Mode of presentation: Opinionated, advocating an issues or position Language (adjectives) Facial expression (on tv) Tone of voice (on tv and radio) Where to put your article in the website/newspaper or tv/radio program tv/radio broadcast flow? These are all instruments of advocacy journalism. Objective journalism vs advocacy journalism: which one is more appropriate for environmental journalism in your view?


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