Communications in the Modern World - Sample Essay

News in the twenty-first century takes many forms and is presented through a diverse range of mediums. This is mainly due to the huge leaps made in technological advances, from the steam press of the early eighteen hundreds to the present day where we see mobile text message news alerts and twenty-four hour televised and online news services such as Sky News and Reuters.com. News may be more readily accessible than ever nowadays, but there are many other factors that affect news. News has its own culture, ideology, and ethical principals. It is a form of media that appeals to a mass varied audience and therefore must always be concerned with viewers, listeners or readers. The primary concern of news is the initial reporting of pure fact; this then lays the foundations for additional features to be added.

“Media Making” is a text that deals with a wide variety of problems and issues raised in the modern day media. It is different from other texts due to its examination of major media as a whole instead of as newspapers, film, television, radio and magazines. “Media Making” approaches the transfer of information in a dynamic, though sometimes ordinary, way. The content is primarily formal, however it is organised in a well paragraphed easy to read manner and includes many examples that the audience can relate with. News is approached in a contemporary style and it is obvious from early on that the authors constantly relate the news (and most issues raised) to society and social viewpoints.

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A central point in this text with concern to the news is pages 326-327; here “defining moments for various news media” are listed along with “seven factors that determine the newsworthiness of a potential story”. Features like those listed above are crucial to the portrayal of an interesting and exciting topic with regard to student interest and overall readability. As a final point, there are comprehensive listings on news mediums, such as newspapers, radio, television, cable/digital television and the internet.

“TV Living” is exclusively concerned with television, culture and everyday life, all within the context of how TV affects life and society. This unusual but helpful text takes the form of a report on findings from a questionnaire by the British Film Institute. The survey took in to account five hundred peoples views, taken over a five year period. These findings are used as evidence by which to reinforce the theoretical elements covered and try to explain the “relationship” between an individual and his or her television watching. Audiences, TV sex and TV violence are the three central themes that run consistently throughout the book, fuelled by the authors desire to “shed light on the newly opened up areas of debate”.

From reading the relevant pages with concern to the news (Chapter 3, “News consumption and everyday life”) it is immediately brought to my attention that this text is particularly rigid to read. The reader is constantly being bombarded with facts, figures, dates and examples together with quotations and profiles of the surveyed people. It is possible for this to be a positive element, although the readability of this significant chapter is greatly diminished. This factor is combated by the end of chapter “summary of key findings” and “notes” which can be used for further reading and made reference to in essays or dissertations. These two key features are a central part of the texts set up and provide a quick and easy guide to the relevance of the desired chapter.

“Law and the Media” is solely concerned, in our news context, with subjects such as copyright, deformation, ownership and employee law. I expected a reference to news ethics but none is to be found in this publication. “Law and the Media” as expected is set out like a law text, with constant headings, subheadings and reference to statues and cases which makes the text exceptionally effortless to understand, unlike some Law type textbooks. A further benefit of this text is the comprehensive table of statutes and cases located towards the beginning of the text.

“Law and the Media” addresses the main problems that might arise in case of a dispute involving newspapers and copyright or deformation, for example Barrymore v News Group Newspapers [1997] and Times Newspapers Limited v MGN Limited [1993]. Among the bank of information provided in the text, a glossary of legal terms, a list of professional bodies and their contact details and specimen agreements are provided towards the end of the text. These are mainly there to be of help to those students who are not familiar with legal jargon and procedures. The author and subsequent editors are all of high standing within their various legal communities which provides the reader with a definitive sense of security provided in a relatively new, fast moving and cutting edge subject.

“News Culture” is the only one of my chosen texts that is solely concerned with the topic of news. “News Culture” provides a fully comprehensive guide to news reporting, a history of radio and television news, news ideology and ethics, political news, discourse of news, journalism, racism within the news and news audiences and everyday life. As well as this principal information a useful glossary and references are provided which are essential for students who wish to take part in further reading on specialist subjects. “News Culture” is an up to date text (first published in 1999), boasting reference to futuristic interactive jargon such as “infotainment” and “docu-soap”.

The text takes the form of a timeline, starting in a historical approach and going on to investigate genre and production from the point of view of three essential parties; reader, listener or viewer. Attention then turns to the more modern media developments of racism and sexism and the slant that they bring to news coverage both as a whole and in individual cases. Individual chapters in the book are set out clearly, with easy to read headings. Constant references are made to examples with many dates being given; this however does not affect its readability.

In the context of ‘news’, all of the texts that I have reviewed have similarities. Predominantly they cover the subject of the news from three perspectives; culturally, socially and politically. The texts are all written by respected professionals in their chosen field and all are aimed at students, their aim is to educate by way of theory and example. The obvious differences between the texts can be highlighted by the titles, each has a main topic and they vary greatly by way of focus on certain elements of the media and communications.

The authors and editors of these texts have generally populist views, although some own viewpoints and theories exist, these are critical when referring specific theories in essays and dissertations. In my own personal view, these texts have been extremely useful in constructing this essay and I am sure they will prove to be textbooks of choice during my future study.

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