“News always reflects the interests and assumptions of the powerful in society” this statement is true in many ways, most of the news the public are exposed to is carefully chosen by owners, editors, journalists and the government – all powerful people. The views and morals they hold are therefore portrayed in our news, influencing our opinions and the way we act in society. The Glasgow University Media Group (G.U.M.G) carried out studies based on content analyses of television news, they feel that the ‘powerful’ have an influence over the media, as a result of this they are represented much better than the ‘un-powerful’ in the press. People with money and status have an effect on our news content and as a result of this they have an effect on our interests and outlook on world issues.
Its not just gatekeepers who filter our news wealthy businessmen, the royal family, celebrities and the government all have an effect on what is and isn’t reported and how it’s reported. Owners and editors usually have sponsors and support from many powerful people and to keep these alliances they will not report anything insulting, damaging or contradictory against them, this can result in stories being changed, details being left out or not being reported at all.
The G.U.M.G found an example of this in a speech made by the Prime minister about the 1975 Leyland Strike, he had made an appeal to management and unions but when it was shown on the BBC news the speech was edited as an appeal just to workers.
This implies that the workers are at fault and are the ones who need to reconcile and creates bias against the workers and reflects them unfairly and in a negative light.
This is a result of the powerful (the BBC) can change a story to inject false opinions and ‘facts’ into the British public. In a series of broadcasts mad by the G.U.M.G – a large substantial amount of evidence indicated that the media is not impartial, there is an increase in government control of media output and that the media restricts information and therefore limits freedom of choice (agenda setting.)
Complete media impartiality is impossible, research has shown that the media does not show a wide variety of views but the opinions of those with power in our society, or dominant views in society. Those in the minority are not given the chance to express their thoughts in the media, leaving it almost impossible for them to be heard.
A recent example of this is the controversial story regarding the royal family, the press knows the story but have been forbidden by the law (at the request of the royal family) to report the story to the British people. The story has however leaked in Europe and on the Internet, this argues that although some stories are not widely represented, they are available if we are willing to look.
Some stories are simply too major to hide or keep secret, “The Sun” may chose not to report a story concerning one of their allies but there is nothing to stop another newspaper from reporting it, in-fact competitor newspapers are likely to gain by featuring the story.
They portray the subject pessimistically, which will represent “the Sun” negatively, because of this “The Sun” would do better to report the story in a favourable light, either providing a different slant or excluding certain details (false reporting) this means the public gets two different stories and has to make a choice on which they believe, again bias representation.
Even small details such as the language used can change the public’s opinion of a person or event, for example when describing a car accident using such statements as “Dr Jacobs accidentally bumped into the vehicle in front ” as opposed to “Careless driver smashed into surprised driver ahead” can create two different versions of the story both representing a person in a different way.
The media itself however, claims they operate due impartiality – not consistently presenting a single viewpoint to the exclusion of others but presenting a range of views and a variety of opinions. It is argued that a combination of biases allows the audience their own choice to which they believe, therefore providing a freedom of choice.
This is true to an extent, sometimes the newspaper or programme, broadcast news especially, will present the facts in a non-biased way but this is very rare. Broadcast news is more impartial and has a tendency to report as many stories as time will allow and in an unprejudiced manor, this does allow the viewer to form an unbiased opinion.
However, an example of news biased is demonstrated by the G.U.M.G’s studies of the Leyland strike so there are occasions when broadcast news modifies pieces of news to create a certain impression.
Although it is unfair to say that news is always influence by the powerful I would agree that 99% of the time it is, there is usually always an arterial motive to why a story is reported in a certain way and it is usually always to benefit the rich and powerful.