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Final Blog

December 8, 2016 in uncategorised

The withdrawal of the Licensing Act, 1695, ended prepublication censorship and paved the way for a free press. British newspapers became self regulated and it has remained that way until this day. It would be nice to say that it created a ‘happily ever after’ ending but that is not the case; unfortunately it  was not that simple. With the dynamic shift in newspaper content, from informative writing to infotainment, the standards and ethic’s of journalists declined, but that was only the beginning.


The problem wasn’t that tabloids were flourishing, though I personally consider that an issue, but it was the way in which journalists retrieved their information. An invasion of privacy occurred in the phone hacking scandal when journalist’s tapped into the answering machines of celebrities in order to write their next juicy article for News of the World. In 2007 the paper’s Royal Editor, who was also a private investigator, was put in jail for ‘phone hacking’ which was simply the calling of voicemails and guessing their passwords; often unchanged from their initial programmed code. A defining moment in the phone hacking scandal was in 2012 with the voicemail hacking of Milly Dowler, a murdered schoolgirl. As you can imagine, this did not sit well with the public. Resignations or News of the World exiting the market; this initiated an inquiry, according to Leverson it was the 7th time in less than 70 years[1].


The Leverson Inquiry was a vicious cycle caught between two major angles: those fighting for freedom of the press; claiming it is an essential element to our democracy and those contending the need of some form of regulation or guidelines for the press in the interest of the public. I believe there was an overlap with these issues and people didn’t only take one side, in fact, I think it became clear that everyone felt the need for a new system but the argument was primarily ‘how’ this would be done.


Concerning the investigation, Leverson said, “The press, operating freely and in the public interest, is one of the true safeguards for our democracy.” He later goes on to say, “But this power and influence carries with it responsibilities to the public interest in whose name it exercises these privileges.”

He condemned the British press for not using its power to benefit the interest of the public. The British press’ misuse of power and influence stole the public’s trust and hurt many people in the process.

[1] A Report into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press

Remarks by Lord Justice Leveson: Thursday 29th November 2012

week 7

December 8, 2016 in uncategorised

Week 7: Flat Earth News


Scary and surreal as it may seem, truth is a rare jewel to be found in a fast passed culture centred around profit and personal gain. Journalists are forced to write with such speed that their role of presenting truth and holding power to account is diminished. Nick Davies says, ‘No reporter who is turning out nearly ten stories every shift can possibly do his or her job properly.’


The temptation to re-write published articles and simply add one new quote is a huge issue in today’s society. Some workers are even directed by their employers to reword other people’s work, however, Davise doesn’t consider this to be the main problem. Information has easily circulated the internet and been picked up by journalists without using verified facts or reliable sources. Churnalism, Nick Davies defines this as, ‘journalists who are no longer out gathering news but who are reduced instead to passive processors of whatever material comes their way’.


Some people think that the main downfall in today’s media is the advertisers. The newspapers, as in the HSB case with The Daily Telegraph, only displayed certain news and left out the information that made their advertisers unhappy. Others believe it is propaganda purposes that prevent the truth from being available. Davies encourages us to look into the sources used. He focuses his research on the upmarket daily papers in addition to the Mail. He found in his Cardiff University research, that the two main sources initiated from wire agencies and public relations activity. The problem with this is that these sources will only tell you what they want you to know, with a certain intention to control public’s mindset toward their company/employer and to hide information that would create a negative impression on their boss. It is interesting that trained journalists are sought after in the PR industry and I found that adverts on for PR roles request you to build good relationships with other journalists. This is done in order to for their message to be seen as professional  and presented in a specific way in which they hope will not be altered but immediately fed to the mainstream news.

Week 3: Watchdog Journalism

December 8, 2016 in uncategorised

Week 3: Watchdog Journalism


Watchdogs are those that hold power to account. Citizen’s for Responsibility and Ethic’s in Washington is a good example of watchdog journalism. The Plame affair is one of many cases they have been involved with in which CREW’s team sought to hold power to account. CREW’s website claims that it’s members not only ‘highlight the negative influence of money in politics’ but also, ‘take action to ensure accountability and change our system for the better’ and later goes on to say that they are there to ‘create a more representative and ethical government, driven by the common good, rather than money and self interest’. This is a wonderful picture of what watchdog journalists aim to do; they are a public service. WikiLeaks is another organisation that reveals the truth and acts as ‘eyes and ears’ of the people. Doig says, ‘A free press using fair techniques of investigative journalism is an indispensable asset to our democracy,’ and goes on to say, ‘the preservation of standards in public life.4’ The lapdog journalist will simply stay quite and do as they are told but we can look up to those who defy this method and seek to build a world of transparency and truth.


Martain Conboy points out, “The tactics of investigative journalism have often been deployed by the popular press for sensation alone.” He uses the Leveson Inquiry as an example of tabloids investigating matters of little importance and yet, using vast sums of resources to do so. Those involved in the phone-hacking scandal were not acting as watchdogs but rather consumed with the concept of profit. Watchdog journalism does not license unethical behaviour; though it can broaden the grey area so long as it really is for the greater good of society – not your pocket!


Watchdog journalism is essential for democracy as it holds the government accountable and in order for it do this, it must be separate from them, it must remain self regulated. One issue is that investigations cost a lot of money and they take up a lot of time. I believe this is one reason why we don’t see more of it. :Last year Obama was interviewed by Jake Miller on CBS news, he said, “Journalists give all of us citizens the chance to know the truth about our countries, ourselves, our governments,” he went on to say, “That makes us better, it makes us stronger, it gives voices to the voiceless, it exposes injustices, and holds leaders like me accountable.” Obama pin points what watchdogs do, without them we remain in the dark, reading conspiracy theories from ‘want to be journalists’ or for those of us who don’t waste our time on such an activity, we are simply left with the guessing game; all of which are futile.

4Doig 1997:210 found in principles and practice page 95


December 8, 2016 in uncategorised

A tabloid was created in order to be a condensed version of the broadsheet newspaper; comprising of the most important news. Martin Conboy highlights the key aspects of tabloid journalism in the 21st century, including but not limited to: sensationalism, emotive language, sex, gossip, celebrities, human interest and political bias (2004 p. 12). Skousgarrd explains that tabloidization has created a new culture which focuses on ‘broadcasting that sells’ and raises concerns as to whether it fulfills its responsibility to serve the public. Tabloidization, as Bob Franklin expresses, is causing journalists to prioritize reporting ‘stories which interest the public than stories which are in the public’s interest.’

When did the shift in news values begin? The Sun took on a tabloid format in 1969, followed by the daily mail in 1971. The Daily Mail’s slogan, according to Conboy, at one point was, ‘A Penny Newspaper for One Halfpenny’ (2004). Harmsworth wanted his paper’s reputation to be thought of as a bargain rather than of less value. He tried tone different from other newspapers by including more news from around the world and added a women’s column which eventually took up a whole page. Conboy says, “Harmsworth’s approach, hugely successful as it was, had an effect on the shape and content of journalism across the twentieth century, forcing other proprietors to adapt the content of their newspapers to match or improve upon the pattern that he had set”.

Numerous papers, in turn, transitioned into the tabloid form. Having started out with simply downsizing, the newspapers are thought to have adjusted their style and values (Conboy, 2013). Franklin shows a clear image of what journalism was and what it has become, “Journalism’s editorial priorities have changed. Entertainment has superseded the provision of information; human interest has supplanted the public interest; measured judgement has succumbed to sensationalism; the tribal has triumphed over the weighty; the intimate relationships of celebrities, from soap operas, the world of sport or the royal family are judged more ‘newsworthy’ than the reporting of significant issues and events of international consequences. Traditional news values have been undermined by new values; ‘infotainment’ is rampant.” (1997: 4)

Our first news-sheet, the Gazetta of Venice, was produced to inform the public about the threat of a Turkish invasion and record the progress of war, a political issue, yet with the intention for its content to be read aloud during public performances, indicating it had an element of entertainment within it (Conboy, 2004). Let’s not forget that advertising has been in the papers from the get go; we can see evidence of this in March 1702 within The Daily Courant. With that in mind, would it be correct to state that newspapers have always projected political, commercial and an aspect of entertainment value? No doubt that format, style, size and content has changed over time but what if it is the escalation and amplification of entertainment and commercial gain that has indeed created this new culture?

Conboy; Martin. Journalism a critical history. page 11, 173 2004
Conboy; Martin. (2013) Journalism studies: the basics. Page 121. Routledge.

Watchdog Journalism – Journalism & Society 27.10.16

October 31, 2016 in Journalism & Society

This week, our lectures were about the subject of Watchdog Journalism and the effectiveness of it as well as the power of journalism.

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Who controls the media? Journalism & Society Seminar 20.10.16

October 21, 2016 in Journalism & Society

During this week we were concentrating on the political economy of the media and coming to our own conclusions to Where the power lies, in the world of Journalism.

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