Presentation on theme: "Media, Politics and the Environment 1: News"— Presentation transcript:
1 Media, Politics and the Environment 1: News Week 4
2 Environmental journalism Exploring risks and hazardsTranslating complex scientific issues into simple language and STORIESUsing varied sources: scientists, policy makers, NGOs, business, consumers, involved (e.g., local) people, the general publicMajor issue areas for environmental journalism today:Climate changeSweet water shortageEnvironmental justicePopulationBiodiversity(Source: Bob Wyss: Covering the Environment. How Journalists Work the Green Beat. Routledge, 2008.)
3 Environmental journalism: history From 1960s: a few news organizations1400 environmental journalists in the US today7500 journalists in the world say they cover the environment (IFEJ, 2001)Many are part time environmental journalists at smaller scale media (also cover other issues)Origins: outdoor adventure and nature writingEnvironmental journalism in the mainstream: a) separate “environmental stories” b) as part or aspect of any story
4 News journalism: story genres Straight news account: No dominant narrative frame other than outlining the basic who, what, when where, why and howConflict Story: A focus on conflict inherent to the situation or brewing among the playersConsensus Story: An emphasis on the points of agreement around an issue or eventConjecture Story: A focus around speculation of what is to comeProcess Story: An explanation of the process of something or how something worksList continued....
5 Historical Outlook: How the current news fits into history Horse Race: Who is winning and who is losingPersonality Profile: A profile of the newsmakerTrend Story: The news as an ongoing trendPolicy Explored: A focus on exploring policy and its impact 12%Reaction Story: A response or reaction from one of the major playersWrongdoing Exposed: The uncovering of wrongdoing or injusticeSource: FRAMING THE NEWS. The Triggers, Frames, and Messages in Newspaper Coverage. (Content analysis of first page stories in US newspapers).
6 Frequency of genresCombative 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.
7 Objectivity: 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 JournalismTruth: differences in science, religion and journalism
8 When a scientist says something is true, what does he or she mean? Achieved through a process of observation; followed by theory building to account for observations.Scientific theories can be tested and verified. Two scientists performing the same experiment should achieve the same results.Would two journalists write the same story the same way?
9 Scientific truth Four steps of scientific methods: 1. theory and hypothesis2. empirical observations, experiments and calculations to test hypothesis3. original hypothesis is either accepted or rejected4. original theory could be modifiedOthers can repeat the experimentRobert Koch and TB
10 Religious truthReligious truth: Revealed to men and women in divine contacts and passed to generations in sacred traditions (texts and rituals)Usually cannot be tested or verifiedMust be accepted as a matter of faithExceptions: meditative practices (e.g., in Buddhism) that can be seen as ‘technologies of mind’, or tests.
11 Journalistic truthLargely 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.
12 What is Truth? Three kinds of truth: Scientific truth Religious truth JournalistictruthBased on whatsomeone hassaid or seen.Sometimescannot be verified.Belief andfaith.Usuallycannotbe verified.Based onexperimentand observations,which are testedrepeatedly. Can andshould be verified.Emphasize: 1. This is not a hierarchy of truths: just different kinds of truth2. Difference between when a scientist says something is true, and when a journalist says something is true, and when a religious person says something is true.
13 Are eyewitness accounts the answer? Psychologists point out that seeing is not always believing.Confirmation bias: we tend to seek and recollect facts according to our pre-existing ideas.Information that runs counter to our ideas tends to be discounted.
14 Towards the journalistic method: “I made it a principle not to write down the first storythat came down my way, and not even to be guided bymy own general impressions; either I was present myselfat the events which I have described, or else I heard of themfrom eyewitnesses whose reports I have checked with asmuch thoroughness as possible. Not that even so the truthwas easy to discover: different eyewitnesses gave differentaccounts of the same events, speaking out of partiality forone side or the other, or else from imperfect memories.”The Greek historian Thucydides (5 BC) describing his method
15 1. 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.
16 2. Verification of factsAre 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
17 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
18 3. Journalists should acknowledge their own preconceived notions Actively look for information that counters what you believeIf after making an honest effort you cannot find such information, you can be a little bit more confident in your story
19 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
20 Techniques to improve accuracy The San Jose Mercury News accuracy checklist:- Is the lead sufficient supported?- Has someone double checked names, titles, web addresses etc in a story?- Are all the stakeholders in a story identified, contacted and given a chance to comment?- Does the story pick sides and make subtle value judgements?- Are the quotes accurate and capture what the person wanted to say- Is anything missing?
21 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.
22 The importance of attitude Humility: reporters can only ever know a small part of the truth. They should be willing to acknowledge this.An awareness of his or her own biases.Intellectual honesty.Objective and transparent methods.
23 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”
24 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.
25 Criticisms of objectivity ‘Sources rulez’: journalists rely on the prominent and elite as their translators or mediators.Objectivity against independent thinking, creativity, imagination, critical perspectives; just a technique by journalists=disinterested spectators.Objective journalists claim they just report and are not responsible for creating news. Objective journalists are amoral.
26 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
27 Alternatives to objectivity cont-d Literary journalism (mixing journalism with literature as an art form) Peter HesslerGonzo 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)
28 Objectivity and media pluralism Media pluralism: on a competitive media market, all forms of objective and other (partisan, advocacy, literary, etc.) media may survive“Truth emerges” from accounts of competing sourcesMultiple segments of national media systems: partisan, objective, advocacy, etc. mediaAudience members may choose and oppose different accounts