Scan the extracts and decide which of the headlines – Control, Censorship, Equality, and Balance – corresponds to each passage.
“TV News” looked at some of the dilemmas in television journalism. Here, we examine four issues of vital importance to the entire information industry. But they’re not just crucial debates for people who work in TV, radio, and the press. They concern media consumers, too…and that means EVERYBODY.
News is often about conflict – just think of the situations in Russia, Northern Ireland, South Africa or the Middle East. Then there are less dramatic conflicts. Examples of these include the battles between strikers and their employers or the police and angry demonstrators.
But whether a news story is global or local, it usually involves an argument. The question is – do the media report both sides of the problem in a balanced way?
In many cases the answer is “yes”. TV, radio and broad sheet newspapers generally focus on the facts and try to be fair. But when it comes to tabloid papers, the picture is very different. Their reports can contain strong opinions. They support one side of the conflict and attack the other. This approach is popular with millions of tabloid readers because it’s fun to read about heroes and villains.
Unfortunately, though, the truth is rarely black and white – it’s usually grey.
How free are the media? Well – it varies from country to country. In some cases (e. g. Sweden and America) there are very few limits on what journalists can report. Other governments are slightly less liberal. In Britain, for example, there is an “Official Secrets Act”. This means that it’s against the law to report certain sensitive information about defence and intelligence matters.
And then there’s a third group of countries which control their media very strictly. In cases like this, broadcasters and journalists who break the law are frequently sent to prison or sometimes even killed.
Lack of freedom is a serious journalistic issue, but it’s not the only one in the censorship debate. On the other side of the coin, some people believe journalists have too much freedom. The argument here is that newspapers often invade people’s private lives and print sensational stories which are untrue. Should this be allowed to happen?
Newspapers and TV stations are expensive – only the very rich can afford to buy and run them. Even fewer can afford to manage a media empire – but two men who can are Rupert Murdoch (the USA) and Silvio Berlusconi (Italy). Some people believe that “media moguls” like these have too much power and are only interested in profit, not good quality papers or programmes. Others claim the opposite – that rich owners are good for the information industry. Why? Because they invest in new technology and create more choice for the consumer.
How do the media represent women – fairly or unfairly? And what about ethnic or religious minorities, children, old people or the disabled? How much time and space are their views given by the media?
These days it is a very important issue. We live in complex societies with lots of different groups – a fact which can’t be ignored. The problem is that for a long time the media did ignore it.
Things have improved a lot in the last ten years – for example, there are more women in top media jobs these days and more programmes and papers for ethnic viewers and readers. But even so, many minority groups think there’s still a long way to go.