The Sun had no compunction in naming the 15-year-old pupil suspected of fatally stabbing teacher Ann Maguire in Leeds. It referred to him in the third paragraph of its main inside article as “the alleged killer”.
The Times said the suspect had been “widely named on social media outlets”, but unlike its Wapping stablemate it did not use his name. However, it gave plenty of clues about his identity in its front-page report by revealing details of his appearance, family and online activity.
Other papers were much more circumspect. The Daily Mirror, for example, stated in print that “the alleged attacker cannot be named for legal reasons”. Oddly, this phrase was not in its online version. The Daily Telegraph stuck to the same traditional formula as the Mirror by refusing to reveal the boy’s identity.
Follow the link below to a must-read report by C.W. Anderson, Emily Bell and Clay Shirky on post-industrial journalism (or, in exam board terms, the impact of new media on journalism). It’s a long report, 100-pages, but it’s worth a read, or a scan, or you could just skip to the conclusion.
It’s a great resource for an “Impact of New Media” case study for the Unit 3 (MEST 3) exam.
You can download it as an electronic book or a PDF file.
News is irrelevant. Out of the approximately 10,000 news stories you have read in the last 12 months, name one that – because you consumed it – allowed you to make a better decision about a serious matter affecting your life, your career or your business. The point is: the consumption of news is irrelevant to you. But people find it very difficult to recognise what’s relevant. It’s much easier to recognise what’s new. The relevant versus the new is the fundamental battle of the current age. Media organisations want you to believe that news offers you some sort of a competitive advantage. Many fall for that. We get anxious when we’re cut off from the flow of news. In reality, news consumption is a competitive disadvantage. The less news you consume, the bigger the advantage you have.
Alex Andreou in New Statesman on press regulation after Leveson.
There is an unacknowledged tension at the centre of the debate. The free press is already unfree – there, I said it. Ninety per cent of national titles are owned by a very small group of billionaires, the majority of them based abroad. The international Press Freedom Index, compiled largely from the responses of people in or related to the industry, ranked the UK at 29 this year. The top country according to the index is Finland, which has a system of self regulation, fully underpinned by statute, very similar to what is being proposed.
The New Statesman nails it in an article that questions what happens to news when the media starts to obsess about itself. On the day when The BBC obsessed about moving house and the rest of the media obsessed about press regulation, here are the stories we could have been hearing about. News values in action:
1. The Department for Work and Pensions has introduced emergency legislation to “protect the national economy” from a £130m payout to jobseekers deemed to have been unlawfully punished. The so-called “Poundland” ruling would potentially entitle thousands of people to financial rebates after the court of appeal declared that almost all of the government’s “work-for-your-benefit” employment schemes were unlawful. The legislation is will come before the Commons tomorrow as the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Bill.
2. Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, the Steubenville high school football players, were found guilty of raping a 16-year-old after a party in August last year. It’s become a national story in the US – a CNN reporter was accused of being a “rape apologist”.
The Times has admitted it was duped into publishing a hoax exclusive about plans for a Qatar-based Dream Football League, offering huge financial incentives to tempt Manchester United and other top Premier League sides to join, in an episode it described as a “journalistic nightmare”.
In a column in Monday’s paper, the Times’s football editor, Tony Evans, conceded that it had missed warning signs about the story in the rush to publication.
Evans said the story now “appears to have been invented”, but at the time “had just enough plausibility to be seductive”.
Reading the previous entry – about how the press should be regulated – before reading this should provoke some thought. There’s a narrative in the media at the moment about Apple “stumbling” in some way. People used to complain, when Steve Jobs was alive, about his “reality distortion field” – his way of convincing people that something was true beyond a doubt even in the face of the evidence. Since his death, the reality distortion field is on the loose, and has infected both the share market and the media.
Yesterday, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber linked to this shameful BBC News article, which included the phrase, “a few recent missteps with product launches”. Gruber goes on to question this phrase, and he has a point. Apart from the dodgy Apple Maps app (with which, by the way, I’ve had no problems at all, not even with the route planning), Apple’s recent launches have been nothing but successful.
Not that you’d know that from the media narrative. Gruber lists some recent Apple product launches, pointing out how successful they’ve been:
The iPad Mini is the best-selling, best-regarded small tablet in the world. The iPhone 5 is the most profitable and best-selling smartphone in the world. The iPad 3/4 is the best-selling tablet in the world, and is single-handedly transforming the entire PC industry. Retina MacBook Pros — best laptops in the world. MacBook Airs? Better than ever.
Clearly, we can’t trust the BBC’s reporting to be unbiased. They’re basically taking a Samsung press release and regurgitating it, without balance, without questioning the misleading narrative. Samsung are in competition with Apple, and they have the same interest in being truthful about how well they’re doing as Coca Cola have in being truthful about how sugar causes obesity.
What is this narrative about Apple stumbling? Who benefits? Well, there are a number of conspiracy theories. Many bloggers have pointed out that an awful lot of traders made a lot of money by speculating about a possible fall in Apple’s share price. Lo and behold, when the share price fell, they cashed in. So there’s that. I think there’s also a sense that, in terms of narrative, the mainstream media have collectively decided that something needs to happen to make this story interesting.
So they just make stuff up. Write fiction/opinion and present it as fact/news. And if they do that with Apple, you should be asking yourself, what else are they doing it with?
Here’s John Gruber’s entry about a report in Reuters, spookily similar to the one from the BBC:
But this brings us back to Gupta’s report for Reuters, which I repeat below, this time with emphasis added:
The marketing chief’s rare attack on a rival, on the eve of the Galaxy S4’s global premier in New York, underscores the extent of the pressure piled upon a company that once stood the undisputed leader of the smartphone arena, but ceded its crown to Samsung in 2012.
That’s a statement of fact, in a Reuters news (not opinion) story, about a company with 70 percent (and judging by last quarter, growing) of the industry’s profits. The same company that runs the best and most popular app store (including the most successful handheld gaming platform), and whose media entertainment ecosystem has, by far, the best reach worldwide. The same company whose platform disproportionately dominates usage statistics.
via Daring Fireball.
It’s been the case since the launch of the original iPhone, by the way, that the technology media in general dismisses Apple’s products in comparison to those of other companies. You might remember that the iPhone was going to fail because it didn’t have a hardware keyboard, or because it’s camera was only 2 megapixels.
And then the iPad was going to fail because it was “just a big iPod Touch”.
And then the iPhone 5 was going to fail because it didn’t have a jet pack, or something.
The techie guys never get it, because they don’t understand audience theory. Now this “reality distortion” has spread into the mainstream.