Category Archives: Mass Media

Every day, television transmits a wide range of programming. Since its inception, television has borrowed a wide range of shows from the radio. Each form of the TV show may be classified as belonging to a specific genre.

So, let’s learn about the different TV genres.

TV Soap Opera

TV Soap Opera

TV soap operas are serials of fictions that feature day-to-day interactions of characters. They often have never-ending complicated love relationships or family problems. As soon as a problem is resolved another one starts immediately. Viewers will therefore, never stop watching as there is always a problem they want to see resolved. Soap operas use what is known as a ‘cliffhanger ending technique’, that is every episode ends with a kind of suspense that makes the audience want to know what happens next.

The home is usually the main setting of soap operas in which we see rich people, servants, love and romance, adultery, breaking relationships, loyalty, respect, weddings, divorces, villains, blackmails, secrets, gossips, etc.

TV Situation Comedy

TV Situation Comedy

Television comedy is a broad term and there are a number of different comedy sub-genres. It is very popular and is the oldest genre we see on television. Situational comedy or sitcom (abbreviation of situation comedy) is just an example of one comedy sub-genre.

A sitcom can be defined as a series of amusing television drama with a happy ending. It is about 30 minutes long with some characters dealing with situations that could arise in everyday life (e.g. relationships between wife and husband, father and son, neighbors, etc) in a humorous way. In western television productions, series like Friends is an example of popular sitcoms.

TV Game Show

TV Game Show

Many TV game shows are very popular programs which usually involve members of the public as well as celebrities as contestants who answer questions on some subjects. In that particular genre, participants compete against each other or against the clock. TV game shows are governed by a set of rules and participants have the possibility to win prizes, be it cash or in kinds.

Popular game shows like “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” (French version: Qui Veut Gagner des Millions?, Indian version: Kaun Banega Crorepati) has a worldwide viewership. Obviously, the main goal of a game show is to entertain, but it has an educational content as it provides viewers with information on vocabulary, history, geography, science, etc. The quiz show, for example, provides opportunities for learning. These programs are mostly produced in the studio.

TV Broadcast of Sports Events

TV Broadcast of Sports Events

Most sports can be broadcast live or delayed with commentators describing the actions as they happen. This genre involves popular sports such as athletics meetings, basketball, football, tennis, golf, and so on. Today, many television stations have a special channel devoted entirely to sports. Like news, sports shows attract a very large audience. For example, people all over the world gather in front of their television screens to watch the World Cup soccer final or the Olympic Games. Because of their popularity, sports on TV are very much appealing to advertisers.

Sport programs may also adopt a documentary-style focusing, for example, on the life and achievements of athletes, coaches, sports-equipment industries, and so on. We also have other genres such as talk shows or discussions on sport themes involving guests from the world of sports and which provide a lot of visuals by replaying game highlights.

TV Children’s Program

TV Children’s Program

Children’s programs also play an important part in TV programming. Most of them contain a mix of educational and fun shows. Children’s programs are normally shown on TV after school hours and on Saturday morning. Cartoon and animation genres like Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Peter Pan, are very popular genres amongst children. Educational television series, like Sesame Street which uses animation and puppets, are also popular among children.

 

 

When you say that you are going to watch some television, it rather means you are going to watch some types of program such as news, a soap opera, a football match or a game show.

Television broadcasts many kinds of programs every day. Since its invention television has borrowed many types of programs from the radio. Each type of TV show can be related to a particular genre. Literally, genre means type or kind and is used to describe a category of artistic composition which can involve films, music or books.

What Is A TV Genre?

What Is A TV Genre?

A TV genre is a way of classifying TV programs by the type of content. Examples of television genres are: soap operas, comedies, talk shows, game shows, children’s programs, sports and so on.

It is to be noted that the different television genres outlined in this article are not mutually exclusive and one style may share characteristics with others, that is, they may contain elements reflecting different genres. For example, a sport event may include some elements of a talk show.

1. TV News

The television news is an important genre as many people rely on it for information about the world they live in. As a visual medium, television news should, as far as possible, be presented visually so that you can see real events as they happen in every part of the world. News happens 24 hours a day and news from overseas arrives via satellite. News items are just summaries of events supported by video clips of those events.

Dramatic Visual Elements

Dramatic Visual Elements

Television news tends to select stories that have a lot of dramatic visual elements such as floods, earthquakes, crimes, fires, scandals and so on. Often reporters are seen arriving on such scenes to give fresh news to viewers. Thus, television news allows viewers to go along with the newscaster and reporters to the scene of the event. However, each story shown has its own tone and excitement. For example, the coverage of an inauguration of a new school may have a different impact compared to one in which you see a reporter on a crime scene giving live and immediate news.

Tight Deadline

Television news programs must meet daily deadlines. It puts a lot of pressure on journalists and technical operators. When an emergency happens, they have to go immediately on-site to report the event live or to record it to be shown as soon as possible on TV. This implies the need for doing fast research, writing the text, preparing any graphics input, recording and editing the video rapidly.

Television News Script

 Television news is about showing and telling. Most television news items have a simple structure which will usually answer the following:

  • Who is involved?
  • When did it happen?
  • What has happened?
  • Where did it happen?
  • Why did it happen?

Visuals And Words Should Support Each Other

The words should relate in some way to the pictures and support each other. However, they should not compete with each other for viewers’ attention. For example, there is no need to say important facts when viewers’ attention is focused on dramatic pictures of a building on fire. Maybe some silence is needed here to let the pictures speak for themselves.

Don’t Describe The Pictures

Don’t Describe The Pictures

If you say, “This is a busy street” and then the images are already showing the same thing, then you are unnecessarily describing the pictures. Instead, you could tell viewers something like: “a pickpocket was beaten to death here at noon.”

Characteristics Of A Television Newscaster

A television newscaster usually tells the news over a live broadcast. TV news presenters are the face of their stations because viewers actually see them on screen. Therefore they must possess some important characteristics to handle that role effectively.

 

We’ve learned about different camera shots and angles, today it’s about more camera movements and some common editing sequences.

Most films and videos contain shots that are put or edited together by several types of transitions. A transition could be defined as the way in which any two shots are joined together.

Camera Movements

Camera Movements

Zoom Shot:

The camera has a special lens which is called a zoom lens. The lens can be used to make things look closer or farther. In a zoom shot, the camera does not move and only the camera’s focal length lens is adjusted to increase or decrease the camera’s field of view. Zooming can create a sense of speed.

Zoom out- The zoom out is a continuous changing of image size from small to large.

Zoom in- The zoom in is a continuous changing of image size from large to small.

Dolly Shot:

In contrast to zoom where the camera remains stationary, the camera physically moves in space for dolly shots. For example, the camera can be placed on a moveable mechanism such as a trolley or on a moving vehicle to enable it to move physically closer or further from a subject. In a dolly shot, the background does not enlarge.

Dolly in– Camera is moved close to the object. The “dollying in” (or trucking in/ tracking in) shot refers to filming while moving the camera gradually towards the object. This can be done with the purpose of drawing the viewer into a closer relationship with the subject or to indicate that something is about to happen (e.g. a crime).

Dolly out- Camera is moved away from the object. The “dollying out” (or trucking out / tracking out) means moving away from the subject with the intention of creating emotional distance from the subject. Anxiety or tension is now lowered.

Tracking Shot:

In a tracking (or trucking, also known as “dollying along”) shot the camera moves to the left or right beside the subject or parallel with the scene. It is usually fastened to a movable mechanical device such as a pre-laid track. A tracking shot can also be done handheld. It can be a good way of portraying movement such as following a moving character or an artist during a performance. It can also create a feeling of surveillance.

Track right– Camera is moved to the right side of the object

Track left– Camera is moved to the left side of the object

Crane Shot:

A crane shot is a shot taken by a camera on a crane. The camera is mobile, gives more fluid movements and is able to reveal a very large space by moving up and down, forward and backward and from side to side. Crane shots are often used in opening and ending scenes to view the location from above

Hand-held Camera Shot:

Today, with modern video technologies we have quite small cameras designed for the purpose of handheld shooting. Handheld camera shot is shooting without a tripod. With handheld shots the camcorder is carried by the operator, often creating an uneven movement. In a handheld walking shot, the operator could walk towards or away from a subject like the dolly shots. Handheld camera is often used in news coverage or sports because it allows the camera operator to move around and follow an action very closely.

Common Editing Sequences

Common Editing Sequences

Cut 

A cut is the most common and basic edit which shows a quick transition from one shot to another. It is a switch between two images. It is used to keep the action moving along at a good pace. For example, it may be from a full shot of a man to a close-up of his face to indicate who that person is. In film and video, the majority of transitions are cuts. It is commonly said that the cut is an invisible transition because it is largely unnoticed by viewers.

Dissolve

A dissolve (or mix) is a gradual transition between two shots in which one image merges or blends into another one. The first shot fades out and simultaneously another shot fades in. In general, the dissolve is used between scenes to indicate a change of location, a passage of time or subject matter. For example, you can see a character at work in an office and then a mix to a shot of him lying tired on his bed. This lets you know that there is a change in place and time. In contrast to the cut, the dissolve is visible on the screen. It makes the viewer notice that something has happened across time or space in the story.

 

Pictures are just like words and sentences and have their own grammatical rules. Indeed, visual language has its own grammar and follows certain conventions like different camera angles and movements. Producers of shots convey information through the camera and editing by adopting those conventions.

So, let’s learn more about them.

Camera Angles

Camera Angles

A major distinction among the types of shots is the camera angle which describes the position from which viewers are looking at the object or subject. It simply means the camera viewpoints. Camera angles range from high to low and are mainly used to give emotional information to members of the audience and to guide their judgment about the character or object in the shot.

Aerial Shot/ Bird’s Eye View:

The aerial shot is a view from above to show an image taken from a helicopter, plane or crane. It is also known as a bird’s eye view shot which puts the audience in such a way that it is looking down on the action as if seen by a bird in flight. Aerial Shot is normally used for showing a location where the action is taking place like showing the top view of the Eiffel Tower indicating that the action is taking place in Paris. Thus, this type of shot can be used to establish a scene.

High-Angle Shot:

The camera shoots from a high angle down the scene or looks down on an object or a person. The camera is placed above an object or a person. The high-angle shots are often used to demonstrate to the audience a perspective of a particular character. It is commonly used to make a person or a character look smaller than normal giving him/her the appearance of being vulnerable, submissive, lonely, weak, powerless or insignificant.

Low Angle Shot:

The camera is placed close to the ground shooting upwards and looks up at someone or something to make it look bigger than it really is. It accentuates the height of the object or person. The aim is to make an object or someone (hero, king, for example) look bigger, stronger, impressive, threatening or powerful. A low-angle shot also gives the impression of height. This angle can also dramatize the subject as it is not the angle most people are used to.

Eye Level Shot:

An eye level angle shot shows the object looking directly at you. The camera is placed at the subject’s height. It creates a sense of equality between the subject and the viewer. It could connote that the subject has the same amount of power as you. It usually aims to allow the viewers to feel comfortable with the subject and is regularly used in interviews, talks, newscasting, etc.

Camera Movements

Camera Movements

As its name suggests, a camera movement is to move the camera with the action. The camera is either stationary or mounted on a platform that can move around. So, the camera can not only show a moving subject but can also move during the course of recording.

Pan Shot:

In a pan shot, the camera is stationary, usually placed on a tripod and rotates from side to side to scan a scene horizontally either from left to right or right to left. The term ‘pan’ is short for panoramic and is also commonly used to scrutinize surroundings, to show beautiful scenery or to follow a subject as it moves across a location. Quick pans could suggest imminent danger or urgency in films.

Tilt Shot:

In a tilt shot, the camera is stationary and rotates upward or downward. The tilt shot can be done handheld or with a tripod and is often used to scan a scene vertically or to follow an action tilting upward or downward. For example, a camera can tilt upwards to reveal the height of a building or skyscrapers.

It is also claimed that tilt shots can also express emotional responses. For example, tilting the camera up can generate feelings of hope, expectation or anticipation while tilting downward can create feelings of regret or sorrow.

 

A movie can send messages to the viewer through diverse camera shots.

Shots are extremely important in constructing meaning in either a documentary or a film. In reality, each shot size is associated with information and significance. Different shot sizes will be chosen by a video producer or director to impact the structure and meaning of a film.

So, let’s go through some camera shots in further detail.

Different Shot Sizes

Medium Long Shot (MLS)

Medium Long Shot (MLS)

The medium-long shot is also known as the three-quarters shot. It is a head to the knees shot. It gives the opportunity to see some of the environment.

Medium Shot (MS)

If the subject is a person, a medium shot frames the subject from the waist up. That is why it is known as the waist shot. It shows a person’s upper body, arms, and head and still reveals some of the background. It is generally used to show an interaction between characters and allow viewers to see their body language (especially hand movements) and their clothes. It can also be used to show someone doing a top table demonstration. An MS can also be an area equal to the height of a seated figure.

Medium Close Up (MCU)

A medium close-up shows the subject in more detail and is often framed from just below the shoulders to the top of the head. It is normally halfway between a mid-shot and a close-up. It shows the face of a person to enable viewers to see nuances of emotions. An MCU reveals little of the surroundings and is commonly used for interviews in documentaries and news programs.

Close Up (CU)

Close Up (CU)

In a close-up shot, the camera is near enough to allow one element of the scene to fill almost the entire frame. It is also referred to as a “head shot’. It concentrates on either the face of a person or a specific detail of an object and everything is blurred in the background. It is close enough to capture facial expressions clearly and enable viewers to understand a character’s emotions. In films, close-ups are commonly used for emotional impact and dramatic moments to show people in a state of emotional excitement, grief or joy. A close-up shot can be a close shot of one person, 2 persons, 3 persons, etc or a close shot of an object.

However, you should be careful while showing close-ups because an object can look bigger than it actually is.

Extreme Close Up (ECU) or Big Close Up (BCU)

It is an extreme version of a close-up in which you get tiny detail of a character or of an object. It allows you to see things greater than the human eye might be able to normally perceive. For example, it will show only the lips or eyes of someone with no background detail whatsoever. A BCU creates an intense mood and is common in horror movies to build suspense.

Two- Shot

As its name implies, a two-shot is a type of shot that depicts two people in one camera angle. It is usually used to show the relationship between two persons or characters. In motion pictures, the most frequent variety of two-shots that is used is the profile two-shot, showing two persons involved in a dialogue. The director could shoot the action using a medium shot or an over-the-shoulder shot depending on the effect that he/she wants to achieve. The two-shot can also be used when two characters are walking and talking side by side.

Over-The-Shoulder Two- Shot

 

Over-The-Shoulder Two- Shot

Over-the-shoulder two-shot is framed when the camera shoots over one person’s shoulder to another person’s body. The most commonly used framing is the MCU. The camera is positioned in such a way to show someone as seen over-the-shoulder of another person in the foreground. It is more commonly used for when two people are having an interview and in any other conversation sequences or to show the reaction of the listener in a conversation. In films, it is also used to show someone’s facial expressions.

 

Communication needs of the society must be met for the existence of the society. Slowly, slowly, with the advent of technology and larger and more complex society, the jobs of taking care of these needs were taken over by the mass media. However, the question goes as follows: Is the media really meeting the needs of society? Or, is the society being played by mass media?

The Surveillance Function: The Dysfunction

The Surveillance Function: The Dysfunction

As you would remark, news or information published in newspapers or from other mass media influences the behaviors of society. For instance, after your case study, you would probably notice that at the beginning, the rumors published undoubtedly have an effect on the mind of the people. However, because most news is not verifiable by the receiver, the audience will have the tendency to take what they read as a reliable source. Referring to your case study again, after a few days and after further development of the rumor, you would notice that people’s mind keeps changing according to what they read. So, the media decide what you get to see on TV, read on the internet, and hear on the radio. This is the surveillance function of mass media. They decide what to inform you about, what stories are important and who is portrayed and how. For example, in the Euro-Western world, there is a small group of media conglomerates (e.g. Murdoch) that continually control the information disseminated through their media outlets. In countries like the US and Australia, the influence of the media on the selection of information communicated to the media consumers has been so great as to dictate the key focal points of election campaigns, and topics that were not deemed important by either politicians or the public until the media highlighted them continually.

Therefore, implications of the surveillance function of the media can be listed as follows:

  • Because news (accurate accounts as well as mistakes) travels further and faster than ever before, news of events comes to us second-hand and is usually not personally verifiable; as such, we’ve come to place our trust in media credibility.
  • Sometimes media content can inadvertently affect social mindsets like the apocalypse prophecy and the end of the world in the year 2000. Moreover, the power of media conglomerates in deciding the political agenda of the electoral campaign also emphasizes the power of media in influencing the mass. These harmful or negative consequences are called media dysfunctions.

The Interpretation Function: The Dysfunction

The Interpretation Function: The Dysfunction

The dysfunction of mass media interpretation and prescription can result in individuals not receiving a complete and accurate image of an event or topic, as well as not contributing to the development of an individual’s critical faculties. There is no assurance, however, that the interpretation of media specialists, such as analysts of economic trends and demographic figures, is correct and valid.Also, over-reliance on media makes one lose his or her critical ability.

There is also no guarantee that media interpretations are accurate or valid. Individuals could become overly dependent on media interpretation and lose the ability to analyze situations or think for themselves. Moreover, information saturation and overload of information might also shift away from the focus of media consumers from relevant issues.

The Linkage Function: The Dysfunction

The Linkage Function: The Dysfunction

Sometimes the linkage function can have harmful consequences, such as hate groups’ and terrorists’ use of the Internet. It is easier to spread rumors through the linkage function as the news will reach a variety of audiences very quickly, and hence objectives of the hate groups are achieved. For example, in the year 2011, there were riots in the UK provoked by messages spread by the BlackBerry network, and which the British Police had to take offline in order to control the youth on the streets.

Transmission of Values: The Dysfunction

Transmission of Values: The Dysfunction

This function also has limitations. Sometimes, mass media purposely try to instill specific values in the audience, for instance, constant media publicity on the consequences of drug addiction. Furthermore, some researches show that young people who watch programs with a lot of violence might be socialized into accepting violence as a legitimate method of solving problems. However, recent studies, especially from the telepresence branch of media studies, demonstrate that watching violence through media or engaging in violent behavior through media (e.g. first-person shooter games) does not result in a more aggressive predisposition. Significant research has found the opposite to be true like violence in media can have a cathartic effect on the media consumer, thereby purging him or her of the violent emotions. Moreover, the kinds of values and cultural information that are included in the mass media content sometimes influence the perceptions of the mass, for example, media portraying people with stereotypes like Muslims and terrorism, Africa and cannibalism among others.

 

Like any other language, television, video and films are means of communication. Through camera shots, they transmit messages to the audience. Shots are very essential in shaping meaning in either a documentary or a movie. In fact, every shot size has information and meanings attached to it. A video producer or director will choose different shot sizes to influence the structure and meaning of a film.

So, let’s learn more about camera shots.

What Is a Shot?

A shot is normally described as a single continuous recording or uninterrupted take made by the camera. Several frames make up a shot. It is what is recorded between the time a camera starts and the time it stops. A shot has no internal cuts or edits. A video film is usually shot at a frame rate of 24 frames per second and is composed of several shots.

Different Shot Sizes

Moving images have a defined vocabulary of shots, camera angles and camera movements. The camera shot size identifies how large an area will be visible within the frame. However, it is important to the point that the exact terminology varies between production environments but the basic principles are the same. A way of defining camera shots is by relating them to people as shown on the screen.

Therefore shots are called by different names based on their frame size. The following common shot sizes indicate that the distance between the camera and subject varies.

Extreme Wide Shot

Extreme Wide Shot

An extreme wide shot or extreme long shot or a very wide angle shot is commonly designed to show large distances and is traditionally used in the exterior shooting. It covers a wide area. Its aim is to see the surroundings more than focusing on a single object and is generally used at the beginning of a scene. In film, an EWS is used as a scene setting at the beginning and also as a wrap-up scene at the end. In fact, it is commonly used to show the audience where the action is taking place. It is usually meant to give more a general impression than specific information and is used to impress the viewer with the vast scope of the setting.

Wide Shot

Wide Shot

A wide shot shows a broad view of an entire location, a subject or an action. It normally shows the outside of a building, a city or any other landscape to enable viewers to discover the location. The wide shot also shows the atmosphere and mood of the scene, indicating whether it is a beautiful sunny day or a dull winter rainy day.

When a wide shot is used to set up a location and its participants in a film, it is referred to as an establishing shot due to the fact that it often establishes the location of a scene before the action takes place. As its name implies, an establishing shot shows where the action is taking place, whether it is a large forest, a busy street, a room, a beach or a big city. An establishing shot of a party on the beach might show the entire beach area. Often wide shots of famous familiar sights are used as establishing shots to indicate the city where the action is taking place, such as Eiffel Tower to indicate Paris or Big Ben to identify London.

Moreover, a film could start by showing an apartment building or the outside of a hospital followed by an interior shot of people acting to indicate where the action is taking place. It is normally recommended to use wide shots time and again in a production to re-establish the location of the scene in the viewer’s mind.

Full Shot

Full Shot

When filming a person, a full shot shows the person’s entire body with the head at the top of the frame and the feet at the bottom. In films, it is used to show a complete view of a character and also gives a view of the area where the action is taking place. The FS is normally avoided when important detail must be conveyed.

To learn more about the remainign shots, follow us on the second aprt.

 

Do you love talking? Have any exciting ideas or innovative subjects that you want to discuss? Then you should definitely start a podcast. However, you should consider a few things prior to starting your own podcast and you should always plan ahead to be at the top of your podcasting game. Starting a podcast isn’t hard; what’s hard is to find a target audience that will listen to your audio content and will tune in every time you post a new episode. Continue reading to learn our tips on how to start a podcast and how to amass an active fanbase.

1. Pick a lane.

The first thing you need to think about before starting your own podcast is finding a topic that you are comfortable with and can talk extensively on. I know that everyone has a podcast on everything under the sun but you should create or find your own lane within a specific fandom. Your podcast can be on anything, reality television, sports, a TV show, movie, or book review. The world of podcast topics is open for you to explore. There existing podcasts out there and you find something that might be lacking and you can fill that gap.

listening

You should choose a topic that you’ll have enough to talk about; you can’t be too specif or too vague with your topic. Doing your podcast based on a show is also an excellent idea, be it True crimes, How I Met Your Mother, or even Rupaul’s Drag Race. This makes building a fanbase easier as these people were already fans of this specific show and maybe want to hear someone else’s thoughts on the subject.

2. Have an ideal listener demography in mind

audience

Who are you talking to? This is one of the most important question you need to ask yourself, especially before setting up your podcast. You need to target that specific part of the population that is most likely to listen to your podcast and craft your podcast around this imaginary ideal listener. Questions that you need to ask yourself about your targeted demography:

    • The age group you are aiming to reach
    • Will your fanbase be primarily men or women?
    • Their social life and class
    • Their interest and goal
    • Why should they listen to your podcast instead of another one on the same subject?

By creating your own voice that fits the need of your target audience, you are making it easier for them to find your page and thus increasing your listenership.

3. Pick a format.

There are different formats of podcasts out there. Do you want yours to be factual, an opinion piece, fictional, interviews, etc. You should also decide whether you want to host your podcast alone or with a partner. If you are hosting a true-crime podcast and basing it on facts, I recommend going solo in the steps of casefile. If you want a personality-forward podcast and one where you can goof off and have fun with your bestfriend, then I recommend having a co-host. One of my favorite podcasts is Sibling Rivalry and you feel that the two podcasters are friends in the real world. They are drag queens and winners of Rupaul’s Drag Race (Bob the Drag Queen) and its spinoff Rupaul’s Drag Race All-Stars (Monet X Change) and this showcases how one can harness their pre-existing fanbase to create a podcast. The format of the show, like everything else on this list, depends on you and your podcast’s genre.

friends

4. Equipment

Let’s be honest here, no matter how great your content is, you won’t get a large audience if it sounds like you are recording your episodes in a tunnel or cavern. Sound quality is critical for any good and respectable podcast. You can always record yourself through your computer’s mic, but you’ll get a crisper sound if you use good headphones and a microphone. You can also consider investing in a better computer, pop filters and a boom stand or microphone stand.

mic

I will also advise you to get a recording software, and there are a plethora of free and paying options out there. Pick one that best fits your needs and budgets. You should also be conscientious of the room in which you record, don’t choose a big room as it might create echoes and unless you are rolling in money, your studio isn’t already soundproof, nor can you make it soundproof in the near future. Choose the quietest room in your home/apartment to record yourself, and I’ll be honest, some of us started our podcast journey in a closet because it is very conducive for recording and doesn’t create any unnecessary echo.

Also, don’t be too harsh with yourself when you start, they will be some hiccups, but we learn from our mistakes, right. Sound off in the comment section below and tell us your favorite podcast or if you want to start one.

Since 1990, at least 2297 journalists and media personnel were killed. Several attacks have been reported on the media and several journalists have given their lives in the defense of journalism. People like Duniya Muhiyadin, Deyda Hydara, Carlos Cardoso and Norbert Zongo have brushed with death while exercising their profession.

Created in 1991, The Declaration of Windhoek has expressed the importance of a free press and the

First Amendment to the Constitution Act protects the right and freedom of the press.

However, how is it possible that, despite such measures, journalists are still being assassinated today?

Why Is Freedom of the Press Important?

 

Freedom of the press

Someone somewhere said that liberty of the press is the “sine qua non” for democratic governance.

 

A truly democratic society demands the dynamic and intelligent participation of its members in the affairs of the society. And, the responsibility to fulfill these needs rests partly on the press.

 A nation has the right to be informed and hence, the press plays the information role, whereby it disseminates news and publicize information that needs attention. Citizens gain information about new policies, government projects and law amendments. The information obtained from the media enables them to make decisions. For example, campaigns are organized by The World Association of Newspapers to re-educate the public about fundamental issues. Even in terms of politics, the media assumes the responsibility of disseminating political information that voters require to make their decisions.

 

As much as the traditional media, even the new media like the Internet enables an unprecedented empowerment of an individual.

The rise of citizen journalism is a notable example. Some sociologists define it as “when the people known as the audience employ the press tools they have in their possession to inform one another.”

A famous example of citizen journalism comes from the ‘live’ pictures from the London bombings of 2005 that came from the mobile phones of citizens. Move to the right side of the globe and you have OhmyNews, a website in South Korea used by a mass of citizen reporters.

 

Citizen Journalism

 The fourth estate is also the voice to the voiceless, crucial in building strong democracies and promoting civic participation. The press has a great capacity to permit citizens to gather information and mobilize coalitions around policy issues and strengthen the institutions of representative government.

 

As the bridge between the government and its people, the press facilitates communication between the state and its nation. Some say that “the media helps to keep the political system transparent and accountable.” By informing government officials about the problems faced by its citizens in their constituency, the media motivated representatives to respond by working according to the society’s needs.

 

On the other side, governments also depend on the press to receive feedback and evaluate public opinion on their policies and schemes. As pointed out by Jonathan Rauch, “free press disseminates information that informs the electorate and holds powerful people and institutions accountable.” The press even provides the opposition party with an opportunity to be heard so as citizens can listen to both sides of a political story.

The press advocates “victory of truth over the falsehood.” Playing the surveillance function and acts as a watchdog for the society, the media is an independent monitor of power, overseeing political authority and government activities.


We cannot forget how many times the press has played a major role in uncovering wrongdoings and resisting dictatorship regimes.

 

Corruption is a twenty-first-century disease that can infect an entire system without having any mercy on anyone.

 

Raising awareness about government’s abuse of power and violations of human rights, the press has, countless times, engaged the subjects in anti-corruption efforts.

 

If you want examples, here are some:

 

1.    Two reporters in Guatemala exposed the money-laundering practices of high-level officials to former President Alfonso Portillo.

 

2.    The chief staff of the former Brazilian President Rousseff was subjected to legal investigations due to his involvement with illicit practices exposed by reporters.

 

3.    The best demonstration is the contribution of the press in the exposure of the Watergate Scandal, whereby two reporters with their investigations uncovered corruption and nefarious doings in the White House during the Presidency of Richard Nixon.

The press provides the oxygen needed for a democratic society to survive as it encourages consensus, promotes peace and understanding, which can only be achieved with continuous interchange of information and knowledge. But what happens when this right is snatched from the public?

 

As discussed in the previous article, new media has a profound impact on the world of journalism. And, as promised, today, we shall discuss some more essential features of the new media that brought several changes to the way journalism is today.

  • Interactivity:

Alcohol brands boost social media engagement by 327% thanks to coronavirus  donations

Old media was a more a one-way affair, with journalists providing information and audiences receiving on the receiving ends of broadcasts. However, the new media is a more of a two-way process that allows the audiences to get more involved. According to Jenkins (2008), “media interactivity has produced a “participatory culture.” In other words, journalists and consumers no longer occupy separate roles and instead, users are now considered as participants in the news industry

Moreover, this new media feature has led to the creation of interactive journalism, which refers to a new type of journalism where citizens bring a huge contribution to news stories directly. Using the web 2.0 technology, reporters have more opportunities to engage actively and have online discussions with the audience. The new media is a platform that allows journalists to reengage the audience and build “collective conscience.” For example, the Internet enables the unprecedented empowerment of individuals.

Besides, interactive journalism has encouraged the news industry to lean towards both print content and video, graphic, sound clips and social media in their reporting process.

  • Hypertextuality:

How do you advise your students to avoid social media pitfalls? First, by  listening - Poynter

Hypertexts or links are viewed as essential features of the new media. Hypertexts create a more interactive media where the audience has more freedom to navigate over the various sources of information available to them.

Rather than conforming to a fixed and linear news format, journalists communicate information through the use of hypertexts by incorporating a myriad of perspectives. This leads to active and self-reflective readers. As per Murray (1997), “hypertexts call attention to the process of narrative construction and enhance the involvement of readers.”

What about Newsgathering?

Journalists brave danger to report on coronavirus | Penn Today

Nowadays, new media has become an increasingly significant source for newsgathering. Journalists acknowledge the fact that the arrival of the new and digital media has indeed initiated a fundamental shift within journalism and therefore, computers have replaced typewriters and Facebook and Twitter posts have replaced telephone-based tips. Today, reporters can also become their own cameramen with their smartphones in their hands.

It is viewed that web articles, web journals, web magazine articles, websites, books on the web, email discussion groups, web archives and social media platforms are vital tools that are used in the process of newsgathering. For instance, did you know that at Chicago Tribune, which is a newspaper found in Chicago, the social media news editors begin their day by going through tweets and Facebook posts to get ideas about how to engage their audience? For example, Stacey Leasca, one of the social media editors, always tries to track what’s trending on search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing before writing news blog posts and interacting with the newspaper’s audience.

Another great example is how the Vox has a team made up of six people who exclusively focus and depend on social media to create headlines and to get ideas for news articles.

Murthy (2013) claimed that “Twitter has proved extremely useful as a newsgathering medium in terms of communicating information about events such as the Tohuku earthquake in Japan in 2011 and social movements such as the Occupy protests in London and New York in 2011. Twitter has also been effective in the Egyptian protests that toppled President Mubarak.”

What Is Structured Journalism?

Partisan sites erode trust in local news - Lenfest Institute for Journalism

One way to adapt journalism to the growing world of the new media is to change the way news content is written. This is what structured journalism is about. For instance, usually, once a journalist gets an assignment, the latter collects the necessary information, writes and structures the article and then the story is made accessible on numerous platforms. In other words, this is the only way to connect with the finished product.

However, structured journalism is a new type of storytelling that breaks out of the normal and routine-like pattern and pieces of information are mixed and organized in ways that can enhance news story organization for subjects that evolve over long periods of time. This meets the needs of those readers who either want a recap of the story or want to explore every angle of an issue. Additionally, the characteristic of structured journalism makes it possible for readers to explore stories at their own pace. As per David Smydra, “structured journalism plays perfectly with the affordances of digital media.”

Despite the revolution brought upon the journalism world by the new and digital media, journalists are still irreplaceable and unstoppable. What are your views about this? Please share them in the comment section below!

 

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