When you next see or hear or read “The News” just consider this: whose news is it? Who has decided what is an important enough event to include in the news and, perhaps more importantly, what is not worthy of inclusion? Someone has to decide what to include and what not to include. Over recent years, there have been less news stories in main stream news outlets in favour of inclusion of speculation surrounding a particular story. Less reporting and more analysis seems to be the order of the day. What they are saying is: “we will do the thinking for the public; we will speculate on their behalf; we will even provide the innuendo and gossip under the umbrella term “The News”.
This kind of journalism is not news at all. It tends not to come from news agencies and more from the media naija gists. The problem with this kind of journalism is that speculation and downright gossip – which is what it often amounts to – is by its definition full of valued judgements made by the broadcasters themselves.
This new innovation of “gossip news” is usually included, to a lesser or greater degree, in most of the “top” stories. The result is that there is less time for many other items. If you scan broadcast news in particular, you will notice that, over the years, the number of stories covered in any bulletin is far less than it used to be. The networks will concentrate on just one or two stories and may read out some one-liners from agency feeds. This is cheaper for the broadcasters as less stories means less reporters. For the commercial outlets this gives them a valuable saving. Other less cost conscious bodies – such as the over-funded BBC – see this as an opportunity to put more resource
into “explaining” the news to us in a very patronizing way. They tend to analyze the story from top to bottom, giving it their slant along the way. The problem is that the BBC Governors – the executive who are supposed to run the organization – lost control over its staff many years ago. Producers, editors and reporters refuse to simply report what has happened. They insist on speculating about what might happen, what the implications are, what has happened back in history, how this or that organization or person may react to it and so on. This is not news and furthermore is no more than the BBC’s own opinion. The fact that they were infiltrated some years ago by left wing and liberal elements – and these have now taken hold of the organization – means that this gossip tends to be of one particular flavour. They refuse to restrict themselves to simply reporting events. They prefer to patronize their audience with information that they do not need nor have ever asked for. As a result the only way to obtain unfettered news is to use commercial outlets (and not all of those are without a similar affliction).
The other problem with having less news stories is that, more than ever, most news is not reported at all. This has always been a fact of life. Not everything can be included. An editor has always been required to cut things out. The problem nowadays is that so much more is being left unsaid than ever before. This is tantamount to censorship as the media has taken it upon itself to reduce the range of news items so much. The decision of which stories to run and in what order to run them is a powerful one. News media outlets wield more power than ever before. By simply leaving out a news story the knock on effects can be highly significant and could ultimately affect the route a state might take, including who wins at the polls.
The news has a tremendous effect on our opinions and ultimately affects how we vote or whether vote at all. Those that make the editorial decisions must remember that they have the weight of many years of hard fought for independent journalism behind them. They have the weight on their conscious of reporters trying to report whilst having their transmitters bombed, newspapers being printed on clandestine presses in order to get the truth out to the people and tv newsreaders trying to do their job while being glared at by an “official” censor sitting just out of camera shot. Every time an organization like the BBC takes it upon themselves to add their own slant to the news they are endangering the precious independence that their profession must have in order to operate.