What is news? Two definitions of news. Sources of news Types of news Traditional values in news reporting. Two theories: Gatekeeping and Lippmann’s unintentional news distortion Story formats Journalistic styles Gathering, selecting, processing, presenting the news (in a dream-world and in a real world). Developments in the newspaper industry. Two contrasting conceptions of the nature of news. Types of contemporary newspapers Ethical issues. The future of newspapers. Newspapers, News, and the News Media
Transmission theory: News is current and fresh knowledge about an event or subject that is gathered, processed, and disseminated via a medium to a large and diverse audience. Ritual/cultural theory: News is a symbolic representation whereby reality is produced, maintained, repaired, and transformed. What is news?
On-the-spot coverage Eye-witness accounts Expert accounts News releases Published documents Public records Problems of accuracy: Human processes of perception, memory, and recall. No human is an observation, recording, or remembering machine. Biases, misrepresentations These are inevitable problems. Sources of news
Geographic territories: Local Regional National International Specialized Topics Organizations Extension of stories through time: Spot news Developing news Continuing news Hard news Soft news Categories of News
Impact: how many people will be effected by such event? Timeliness: don’t let it cool down, serve it while it’s hot. Prominence: people in the public eye have higher news value. Proximity: the closer to home an event is, the more newsworthy it becomes (maybe not always true for Moroccan news media). The bizarre: when a dog bites a man, that’s not news; it happens so often. If a man bites a dog, that is news. Conflict: harmony is dull, strife is newsworthy. Currency: if you like it, we’ll give you more of it. Consequences: e.g. stories about breakthroughs in science are being replaced by celebrated murder and sex scandals. Traditional news values: what’s newsworthy?
In a dream-world: Reporters leave their offices to monitor newsworthy places and personalities, and carry out investigative reporting when necessary. Send their initial accounts to the newsrooms. Stories are selected (gatekeeping process) Stories are edited and arranged in terms of their importance (lead stories with large headlines on front pages etc.) In a real world: Reporters stay in their offices. They receive most of their stories from wire services. They select, edit, and arrange them. They leave their offices when exceptional events take place. Gathering, selecting, processing, and presenting the news
Gatekeeping: The process of screening, decision-making, and selecting which news stories go through and which do not. The use of a complex set of criteria: organizational policy; personal preferences; definitions of newsworthiness; conceptions of the relevant audiences; fourth estate obligations. A limited number of news stories are presented to the public. Personnel in the news organization become gatekeepers who limit and the control the public’s knowledge of the actual events occurring. Lippmann’s theory: « News is not truth » The press monitor numerous events. Selects an agenda they believe is important. Many factors limit their ability to investigate and report all events: time, money, technology, expertise. As a result, selectivity, omissions, and distortions occur. « the pictures in the audiences’ heads » constitute a pseudo- environment, with limited correspondence with the facts in reality. Two theories: Gatekeeping and Lippmann’s unintentional news distortion
News media select a number of issues, topics, and events from the political and social environment. Some news stories get more prominence than others depending on what is considered newsworthy. A daily news agenda is formed. The public perceives the news media’s order of prominence (agenda) and use it to determine their personal rankings of importance. Politicians become aware of the public’s rankings and turn them into their own policy making agenda. The Agenda-Setting theory: influencing public policies and laws. Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw
Types of contemporary newspapers • Metropolitan/national dailies • Weeklies papers • Specialized papers
Story formats • The five Ws • The inverted pyramid In TV: • The word story • VOT (voice over-tape) • Stand-up • Stand-up with package
The sensational or tabloid: stressed shocking and bizarre events, sometimes even appalling transgressions of social norms. The « objective » or impartial: separates fact from opinion; emotionally detached; present both sides of the story. News in columns and opinion in editorial page. The advocacy style: reporters promote a cause or position Precision journalism: use of accurate quantitative info. Civic or public journalism: developed in the 1990’skeep the press grounded in the concern s of ordinary citizens, rather than those of the elites. Journalistic styles
Contrasting conceptions of the nature and function of news • The marketing approach: news, information, or infotainment • The adversarial: watchdog of the public interest • Investigative reporting • Computer-assisted investigative reporting • The Agenda-setting function of the press
Two broad categories: General news and Specialized news How often they publish and what’s their circulations: Metropolitan dailies: copies sold exceed 250,000 Medium sized and small dailies: modest circulations of 50,000-100,000 Non-daily newspaper: a.k.a. community or grassroots press Free distribution newspapers The ethnic press Other specialized papers: industrial, commercial, labor, religious, environmental… American Newspapers
The future of Newspapers • The good news: newspapers are portable, predictable, accessible, and cost effective • The bad news: they’re perishable, not popular with young people, and their share of the money spent by advertisers is declining • Newspapers are becoming part of the digital world • New technologies may replace the newspaper all together, but the processes of gathering, processing, and shaping the news will remain the same.
Moroccan Government Support to the Newsmedia The Government grants an annual subsidy to the press and political parties: : 1. The first portion ; 20 million dirham, goes to political parties, trade unions and the press. 2. The second portion is shared out as follows : • 7.6 MDH for the purchase of press paper. • 1.9 MDH for phone and telex expenses. • 0.5 MDH for newspaper carriage costs. • The press also gets some 10 MDH in the form of fees paid for the publication of legal, judicial and administrative announcements. • Other support : 10 MDH. • TOTAL : 50 MDH (some US $ 5.7 Million ).Furthermore, the proceeds of foreign newspapers and periodicals on sale in Morocco (more than 1,200 publications in different languages) amount to US $ 10 Million.
Maghreb Arab Press (M.A.P) • Inaugurated by the late King Mohammed V on November18,1958. Its motto is “News is sacred , comment is free". • In 1977, it became a state owned corporation with autonomous legal and financial status. It is considered among the largest Arab, African and Islamic news agencies. • It uses a large national network (over 4,000 km) and an International network (80,000 km) . • M A P dispatches 1, 876,160 words a day and receives 1, 995, 130 words daily. • The Government's determination to support this ambitious agency was materialized in December 1988 with the building of new premises and the purchase of high-tech equipment. • Headquarters : Rabat. • 10 regional offices, Casablanca, Fez, Tangier, Marrakesh, Beni Mellal, Agadir, Oujda, Laayoune, Meknes, Nador. • 17 International offices: Madrid, Paris, Brussels, London, Washington, Tunis, Cairo, Dakar, Bonn, Jeddah, Algiers, Rome, Moscow, Beirut, Geneva, New-York, Montreal.
Newspapers in Morocco In 1997 there are 644 newspapers: • 430 papers in Arabic • 199 in French • 8 in Berber • 6 in English • 1 in Spanish
Statistics on Moroccan Media Professionals The number of cards granted to journalists has increased from 921 in 1992, to 1,031 in 1993, to1,097 in 1994, and to1,200 in 1997 : • Printed press : 412 • MAP : 169 • Radio :175 • First TV channel : 198 • 2M Television Network : 98 • International Mediterranean Radio : 25 • Photography Service (Ministry of Communication ): 14 • Morocco Cinematographic Center (CCM) : 13 • Radio FM: 2