Skip to comments.News Agency Dominance in International News on the Internet
Posted on 10/23/2008 7:37:57 AM PDT by sam_paine
...At the outset of a book chapter describing the 2001 analysis from this project (Paterson, 2005), I asked if media convergence and the migration of news consumers to the Internet democratise information flow - as conventional wisdom suggests - or simply disguise a steady reduction in information diversity. Here I seek to approach the problem more definitively. The hypothesis of reduction of information diversity saw preliminary support from my 1999 and 2001 data, and other academic and industry reports. And so I pose the following hypothesis for testing through longitudinal analysis:
(Excerpt) Read more at ics.leeds.ac.uk ...
My earlier research on news agencies, focusing on the Associated Press (AP)7 and Reuters, supplemented the work of Boyd-Barrett (1980, 1998) and others, describing how increasing concentration of control over the global wholesale news system made the major news agencies more influential than they had ever been.8 That is mostly the result of major television networks of the wealthiest nations curtailing their own reporting since the 1980s, and relying more on agencies as a result; that, in turn, was mostly the result of the determination of new corporate owners like Disney and General Electric that news divisions should pay their own way.9
Because new agencies must please all news editors, everywhere, they must work harder than their client journalists to create the appearance of objectivity and neutrality. In so doing, they manufacture a bland and homogeneous, but still ideologically distinctive, view of the world; stories challenging the ideological positions of the dominant political players on the world scene (in agency eyes, the US and UK) receive little attention.10
The news agency role is crucial for additional reasons.
News agencies set the agenda for what international stories other media choose to carry through the choice of stories they distribute to clients and the amount of visuals provided (moving for TV, still for newspapers and magazines, and both for webcasters), and in the case of agency-provided TV pictures, the nature and amount of accompanying audio and textual information.11 Global and regional news agencies are crucial due to their agenda-setting influence on other media, but have grown even more crucial as they increasingly bypass intermediary processors of news in cyberspace enabling them to directly reach - for the first time - a large portion of the mass news audience.
News agencies are often accused of producing a bland and predictable news product, devoid of colour and enterprise reporting and dependent on official sources and definitions of news. But in the realms they know best, like conflict zones and developing regions of the world, the news agencies frequently break stories other major media miss. Despite this, news agency research has demonstrated a highly constrained, homogenous content dictated by the ideological, structural, and cultural nature of these organisations (Paterson 1996; Cohen, et al, 1996; Hjarvard, 1995; Wallis & Baran, 1990).
The aggregators offer the bizarre spectacle of readers offered dozens of links to entirely irrelevant media outlets for every story. For a breaking story in China, for example, readers may be offered links to the likes of the Arizona Republic, KRQE Television (New Mexico), and the Calgary Sun.
Most of these local and regional news outlets, of course, will be providing the same news agency coverage and offer readers no unique coverage of the story. The intention seems merely to offer the “4,500 news sources updated continuously,” as Google news promises.
This leaves us with a picture of an online news world (in the English language) where only four organisations do extensive international reporting (Reuters, AP, AFP, BBC) a few others do some international reporting (CNN, MSN, New York Times, Guardian and a few other large newspaper and broadcasters), and most do no original international reporting. It makes the news aggregation industry appear a bit inane – why not just link to the four companies filing original reports from around the world and ignore the rest? That is not an acceptable solution, of course, either in terms of the marketing priorities of the aggregators, or for the global public sphere.
This research indicates that discourse on international events of consequence within the global public sphere is substantially determined by the production practices and institutional priorities of two information services – Reuters and the Associated Press.32
The final paragraph is the “nut”. If you want foreign news you must compile a list of your own sites, which are generally chosen through trial and error. AP and Reuters are not to be trusted. Having experience with stringers from both services operating through a number of United States embassies, the news is tailored to the left in nations abroad, just as it is in the United States.
I didn't really have time to excerpt all the goodies, but I recommend reading this paper fully.
It is a fascinating confirmation of what I have feared as abb posts 'wins' to the "Dinosaur Media Deathwatch."
Not that we're winning, but that each time a Local Daily Times or even a NYT reporter is fired, the anti-American AP/Reuters have scored another win in propaganda consolidation.
It goes hand-in hand with this observation:
Sorry, Mr. Card...the horse's asses are already out of the barn...
I think it's worse than that for domestic news. I think local outlets (TV and papers) are becoming one-way output nozzles for the AP/Reuters propaganda firehose.
And then for foreign press, I think Paterson makes a strong case that a similar "drying up" of orignal foreign reporting is also occuring, being replaced by the AP/R worldview script.
I mean, just look at our race. Not a single reputable journalist IN THE WORLD dares to risk their career to go dig into Obama's past besides two fruitcakes, Corsi and Adam whatsihisname? Oh...and the never ending "African Press International" nonsense.
Saw you posted the Orson Scott Card article yesterday...thought you might be interested.
Fascinating stuff. I've run into that sort of thing when looking for info. You want to look up a news event, and you get gazillion hits, but they are all the same/similar article orignally penned at AP.
The theory seems to be that AP/Reuters now rules the news cycle, because it sets the discussion....even here on FR.
Good stuff, Sam. Thanks.
For those of you thinking that the internet will be the answer to the strangle hold on news...
We will need to develop a model to get the unemployed reporters and investigative jounalists into a network to provide news that the big 4 wont touch. Somehow we will have to be able to rate these reporters on their accuracy and slant. They also are not going to do this for free. How do they survive doing this for a living?
Are bloggers the answer? How often are bloggers quoting news regurgitated by the big 4?
That's what I've said about even FR.
We aren't the pajama media. We're just commentators on the topics the MSM wants to talk about.
Look at the taboo subjects on the birth certificate and citizenship issues.
Admins won't allow some of the articles up unless they are from "reputable", "real" news sources ("Got Link?")
So it's not really possible for FR to break things.
And other than jveritas and maybe allegra in Iraq, we really don't have anyone creating independent orignal content.
Probably of interest.