Although the BBC does not openly criticize the war in Iraq, as in the New York Times article, it tends to express its opinion in a more subtle use of language and presentation.
5.0 a Comparison of News Agencies
All of the news agencies explored in this analysis highlighted stories of local interest. However, concern over the H1N1 virus stood out as a key area of International concern. In coverage of this issue, a number of different journalistic styles emerged. Of these news agencies, the New York Times presented the fewest facts about the virus, its victims, or the actual toll in human lives. Its story highlighted a personal tragic account of a victim being denied services at a hospital. The stories had a high appeal due to the ability of the writers to tell a gripping story, even if the story is only a hypothetical situation, extrapolated from something real. The New York Times was high on the human emotional appeal side of the issue, but low on facts that people could use. The same could be said for its coverage of the U.S. war in Iraq. The New York times presented a more editorial style, which highlighted opinions rather than facts.
NPR was decidedly more factually oriented than the New York Times in its coverage of the H1N1 virus and other issues. It attempted to present the facts on both sides of the story, without sounding particularly alarmist. This could be said about many of its news articles. It is work mentioning that NPR covered certain issues that could not be found in a search of the New York Times. One example is the confrontation between Iran and Pakistan. NPR did appear to be subtly sympathetic with Iran in its presentation of the facts. This issue was not even mentioned in the New York Times.
Coverage of the H1N1 epidemic in the People's Daily took a more comforting approach. It highlighted the successes of the Chinese government's efforts to curtail the disease. It placed a decidedly positive spin on news that affected China. It was careful no to take sides in International issues. It is worth mentioning, at this point, that the Chinese government has traditionally kept strict control over the media, jailing journalists who printed unapproved information. The media was used as an intentional social control device for many decades. Now, participation in the Global community is placing pressure on the Chinese government to ease control of its media, journalists are still hesitant to break traditions (Bhattacharji, 2). Freedom of the press is a highly controversial issue in China. The affect of traditional views and threats in connection with censorship haunts news coverage in the People's Daily and can be seen both in overall content and in the careful avoidance of anything that paints China in a poor light, or that may step on the politics of other nations. Statements by Chinese government officials are used to console the people.
When one examines coverage by the BBC, one gains a new perspective into China and other areas of the world. Rather than the positive slant, one could interpret news by the BBC to represent a decidedly gloom and doom perspective. The BBC contained a high number of stories about serial killers, criminals, and tragedies of the human condition. The BBC is careful to engage the use of "experts" in their stories to lend credibility to the opinions and content that is expressed.
A comparison between domestic news sources revealed some interesting patterns. Between NPR and the New York Times, NPR presents the most unbiased presentation of the stories that it covers. The New York Times can be accused of sensationalism on many counts. Although, the New York Times is the more entertaining news source, its efforts to shape American opinion are evident in its editorial style. It may be noted that the War in Iraq is no longer referred to as the War on Terrorism, as it was in the beginning of the conflict. Dropping usage of this term reflects a change in opinion regarding the issue, However, whether this reflects the opinions of the American people, or an attempt to change the opinions of the American people is not clear.
The influence of censorship was evident in the Chinese publication. The BBC and the People's Daily highlighted the efforts of the Chinese to place a positive negative slant on police actions that are supported by the state. It is apparent that the Chinese media is still used as a means of social control that is highly influenced by the Chinese government. Even if the official position of the Chinese government is towards more freedom of the press, it is evident that journalists are still afraid to say anything negative against China or actions that the Chinese government has taken. The political correctness of the articles in the People's Daily was the most prominent feature of the publication.
The BBC tended to stray from the direct opinions of the reporters. It contained the more complete and non-biased coverage of the H1N1 virus in any of the media explored. However, the BBC is not afraid to take sides on political issues. Coverage of international issues focused on the effect of the issue on the British people. It had a decidedly more negative view of the world than the Chinese publication. Nonetheless, Brits are always reminded that they can prevail through any tragedy; no matter how dismal it may appear.
This exploration of different media sources revealed that bias comes in many different forms and is express to varying degrees in almost every new agency. Journalists face a dilemma in presenting the human side of the story and a need to keep the story interesting, yet not to engage in blatant sensationalism in doing so. This is often a hard line to walk and the viewpoints of the publication in general have an impact on this decision. Upon conclusion of this examination, one question remains, is the world all good or all bad? The answer to this question depends on which news agency you read.
Battacharji, Pretti. Media Censorship in China. 2009. Council on Foreign Relations. Web. 3 Nov.
BBC. Web. 2 Nov. 2009. http://www.bbc.co.uk/
New York Times. Week in Review. Web. November 2, 2009.
National Public Radio (NPR). Web. 2 Nov. 2009 http://www.npr.org/