Mass media communication, in general, has played an important part in our society since time immemorial. Communication in life, being critical and important part in our daily lives, has enabled mass media to be appreciated by many in the contemporary world. Mass media as a term is composed of many attributes that are used to reach a wider base of audience that include but not limited to sound recordings, television, internet, print, movies, and radio among others. Media in general therefore has responsibility to educate, inform, and entertain its public on various issues happening in our daily lives. To do this, it requires a lot of knowledge and skills in various areas and fields to competently perform such tasks. However, this paper discusses and analyzes a news story among popular cultural materials using critical production analysis.
Aside from the fact that production analysis is to be majored in this piece, other critical analysis methods in mass media communication include historical, audience and textual. News stories are noticed as among the most common popular culture in the world. It is recorded that in the world millions of viewers commit a good number of time to spend just to watch news stories and current events and developments. Most often news stories are real time and mostly include an issue that has left a lot of people in suspense that stories and development about the scenario keeps on progressing and changing. News stories touch on almost all sectors of the society that include political, economical and social lives. People and institutions with fame such as politicians, and organizations with big influence in the society in most of instances have been the news makers in our present world. For an event or an issue to be considered as newsworthy, it has to be unique and with unfamiliar features that will stern the world and people. Natural events and phenomenon as well as manmade events that cut across a large population with adverse effects and impacts to the affected people, in most situations have been presented as news events. News stories have to present the element of current episode on anything that is important to the society at large with great mass interests.
Skinner, in his piece Converging Media, Diverging Politics: A Political Economy of News Media in the United States and Canada noted that in production analysis of news stories, many issues are presented that cuts across numerous area. In presentation of news stories, media ownership has played and determined the kind of news stories that is presented, and the timings that such story is aired. Due to the fact that less and less people own media in many parts of the world and large corporations, in some instances news presented has been compromised when the owners feel they have an interest over the issues. If they feel that the news stories presented can tarnish their name or interests and those of their associates and friends, they can have an influence or determine if the news stories will be aired or not. It is noticed that many media owners have political interests and political friends, and therefore in some instances they have the wellbeing of their political friends in relation to news events and stories. It is important to note that politicians mostly have been termed as news makers, and this has forced some of them to establish good relationship with media owners, and as a result they we have witnessed biased presentation of news events and stories. Large corporations and businesses groups in some instances have owned media houses, and media houses in such a case have become part of their large business empires and groups.
Media being a critical tool to reach intended targets in business, say through marketing and advertisement, and such corporations have in some instances compromised the kind of information being presented, especially news events touching on the negative part of such corporations. For instance, if a news event that criticizes any product from such corporations may be due to bad quality or unfair pricing and competition from opponents, there is a possibility that such kind of news will not be presented as it is. It has to be modified a bit to limit the damage that such news story can cause to the corporation. In some instances media owned by corporations have presented their competitors from actively utilizing their media house for example in advertising and marketing, by being tactical and limiting competitors from using prime time in news stories to advertise. Many civil groups in the world fighting for free media and freedom of information have noted that monopoly and few numbers of people owning media either as individuals or corporations have been the greatest drawback in eliminating challenges facing media in production analysis, as well as other form of critical analysis. Such groups have noted that independent media and large ownership by many people and individuals will ensure credible and quality news stories are presented that has no bias in any perspective.
Another concern in relation to production analysis is that mostly news stories reflect the class values of the producers. In the society, there are various different people from different social classes that include the upper, middle and lower classes. News producer shave been accused of being biased in the kind of news stories that they present. If news reporter or presenter comes from say a middle class, one would come up with stories that relates to that persons daily life. This prompted Huff in his book Censored 2013: The Top Censored Stories and Media Analysis of 2011-2012 to argue out that such situation a person would present what one if familiar with, and they might happen unconsciously. People will normally relate to what they are familiar with and what they understand better. Views and perception about issues is determined directly and indirectly by the social class. What might be viewed as news story by somebody from lower class might not be worth news story to somebody from upper class. It is been noticed that middle class and upper class in most places have controlled and determined what features in news stories. Values also that relate to gender and race have determined at times the kind of news stories that have been presented. This has also compromised news stories presented, and therefore contributed in general to the challenges that face mass media in broad in performing its mandate of educating, informing and entertaining without bias or fear.
News stories it has been observed and presented in some instances as commodities, that is, it has been commercialized. It is asserted that in deed news story attracts a large number of audiences either in visual or audio set ups. It is also noted that during news times, most cooperates and businesses use this time to air their advertisements and marketing and in most instances it is described as “prime time”. Experts and scholars in media related affairs have noted that this attitude has in turn promoted consumption values and habits which have both positive and negative effects. News stories in some incidences are sold to media houses that pay or have interests concerning certain issues, and therefore they pay to cover the news story. This has raised moral and ethical questions regarding journalism and mass media in general. Manning in wonderful article News and News Sources: A Critical Introduction cautioned out that commercializing of news stories has lowered the standards of mass media and communication in general, and this has been the position of most stakeholders in mass media and communication. It is an important concern that has to be addressed in popular culture.
News stories produced and other popular culture have faced constraints in the production process, and therefore this has determined and twisted the contents produced. In some instances accessing information that will constitute part of the news has been challenging. Those with information in some instances have willingly held on to the information may due to one reason or the other. Information being critical that can either makes or break an institution, individual or organization, people and organizations in some instances have been unwilling to share information. Specific people in organization are allowed to speak over an issue and not anybody else. This has had an impact in the content and accuracy of news being presented. In such circumstances, it has forced news presenters to come up with stories that are not fully complete, and in some instances they have been made to hypothesize. Some of the information presented in news story is also censured to carter for certain interests in the public such as abusive language or ugly scenes that might have devastating effects to viewers and listeners. Therefore, in such situation, content presented has been shaped and not presented as it ought to have been presented.
Two common terms used to describe such happenings are “commercial’ and “technical “constraints. Some news stories also have been edited and presented in a way that limits commercial contents over an issue. In such incidences, news stories are edited in such a way that they will not give the concerned parties any commercial advantages through marketing and advertising. Technical constraints at times occur in news stories due to technological failure may be because of a faulty device that might have encountered a problem. Electronics devices used to prepare and present news stories might experience a technical problem, and therefore it is not a guarantee that it will work. Such devices have also failed to work in other areas different from mass media industry, and therefore this should be viewed as common and normal issue. Such constraints have affected the way news stories are presented not only in the present times but also in the past.
Lastly, it is also pointed out that accessibility to media houses has been a challenge and restricted place to most consumers. The ironical part about this is that it is the consumers that include viewers, listeners and readers of products from such media house that contribute to the great revenue collected by such media entities. Media entities have to establish a mutual relationship between and among its customers and consumers of their products. On this note, critiques have argued that one reason or the other as to why media houses restrict visitors to their places is that some media house work from terrible places that do not meet basic standards and environment of work places, and therefore to cover this challenge, they restrict access to their consumers. Ott and Mack in Critical Media Studies: An Introduction noted that such issue has mostly been observed in popular culture of radio and news stories presented from such median; it can be difficult to tell precisely how the work places look like exactly. It is also noted from this discussion that viewers and consumers of such product such as news story are only presented with beautiful and entertaining items that are selectively chosen. Most consumers do not know and understand the processes that it entails to produce news stories and the challenges faced.
In production analysis, the discussed and presented issues are looked from all angles, perception and possibilities in relation to mass media. News stories have played an important role that has shaped the political structure in many ways. Politicians being part of news makers, they have had great interests in mass media especially news stories because such popular culture has influenced either directly or indirectly in shaping their destiny and future. It is also important to note that most of the popular cultures that exist including news stories are driven by one major ideology and concern, that of making profit. Media mass communication in broad has proved to be a critical component that determines and shapes our societies and communities in totality.
In conclusion, it is important to emphasize the relevance of all popular culture in mass media and communication. All cultures have contributed tremendously in realizing the goals and objectives of mass media in the society. Critical analysis of all the popular culture is good and healthy for growth and development of media in the world in broad-spectrum. Where media has been critiqued, it has to address those issues if possible, which touch on sensitive part in the industry such as ownership, commercialization, values, accessibility and constraints. In analysis, not only production contents should be addressed but also historical, audience and textual so that a clear and in-depth understanding of the issues touching on mass media and communication can be attained.
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