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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dissecting The News, 13 Sept. 2010
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This review is from: Getting the Message: News, Truth and Power (Communication and Society) (Paperback)
Glasgow University Media Group shot to prominence in the 1970's with their ground breaking studies of television news, Bad News and More Bad News, which made an attempt to see what takes place in British television news under the banner of objectivity, impartiality and neutrality. This 1993 collection "Getting the Message: News, Truth and Power" is a collection of essays from past and present members of the group that deal with television and journalism. The essays are divided into three sections, News production (how the News is made), News output (the content of the News), and News reception (how audiences watch the News).

In the first section is an interesting account of Soviet media policy (particularly in the Gorbachev era) by Brian McNair. This is followed with David Miller's investigation into the strategies and tactics of the Northern Ireland Information Office during the troubles. Greg Philo looks at how the Ethiopian Famine of the mid 1980's came to be News. The section ends with David Miller and Kevin William on the conflicting agendas and media strategies of a variety of organisations with regard to the Aids crisis of the 1980's. Though not all directly relevant to the editorial categorisation (the essay on Soviet media policy is largely a narrative account and nonetheless interesting for that), they do give the reader an insight into how organisations try, and never truly succeed in influencing the News, as well as how News Organisations make the News.

Lucinda Broadbent's essay on the British and American News coverage of Nicaragua, with particular focus on the 1984 elections, opens the second section and gives an insight into how the Regan administration's view was accepted and broadcasted by the media. Brian Winston provides a forensic examination of the CBS evening news of the 7th of April 1949, and is a fascinating, though perhaps over detailed, look at how the content and form of early television News evolved. Peter Beharrell's essay on how Aids was presented in British Newspapers fulfils a useful role as a reminder of the malevolent mendacity of the tabloid press and their allegedly upmarket cousins at The Daily Mail and the Daily Express.

The final section on how audiences receive the News opens with Greg Philo's nuanced account of research conducted with various groups with regard to how the television coverage of the Miners strike in 1984-85 affected audiences views. Jenny Kitzinger conducts similar research in relation to how newspapers and television News have affected audiences knowledge, attitudes and perceptions towards HIV and Aids. Kevin Williams finishes up with a re-examination of the medias performance during the Vietnam War that essentially de-bunks the popular conception of the antagonistic role the media played.

I was particularly impressed with the contributions by David Miller (see also A Century of Spin), Greg Philo's (see also Bad News from Israel), and Kevin Williams. The downside for me was the essays by Howard Davies and editor John Eldgridge that open and close "Getting the Message": unless the reader is a competent initiate in the world of academic sociology and its terminology they will be left - as I was - slowly struggling in the search for meaning. Otherwise this book is a fascinating insight into the world of News, one that is detailed, nuanced and attempts at an objective understanding of all the issues.
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Location: Scotland

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