The news media is an extremely powerful tool because it provides with very vital information to the public and the way they present the news also plays an important role because based on the presentation, public will form their opinions and views about different public issues. But one important question is unanswered. ‘Why does [the press] apparently serve different purposes and appear in widely different forms in different countries?’ Many scholars articulately symbolised that ‘Four Theories of the Press’ is still being used as a model in order to compare the news globally. But it had very little analysis of the way media systems operated and they only focussed on the media in the USA, Britain and the Soviet Union (Hallin and Mancini in Curran and Gurevitch, 2005: 215). Most of the literature written on media is much centred on a specific ethnic group, in the sense that it is written on keeping in mind the experience of a single country but is written in general terms (Hallin and Mancini in Curran and Gurevitch, 2005)
The main objective of this essay is to give the gist of what will I conduct my research, how will I do the research and why am I doing the research. Also, the focus of this essay is to find out what will be the methods of research.
Background of the newspapers.
Mass media are the means of transmitting messages or meaning to the large anonymous public (Rugh, 2004). Newspapers are the oldest form of mass medium. It was the only form of medium to reach to the mass audience. Its ability to communicate with the masses, a man on the street, made it the medium of democracy. As it was the medium for masses, it was being repressed by those in the authority. The history of the newspaper is the story of a battle which was fought continuously in order to get the freedom to publish the news, facts, information and opinion. All of us get involved in different types of communication every day. Intrapersonal communication is where an individual thinks or talk to himself. Interpersonal communication is where the communicator talks to other individual. Group communication involves a communicator communicating with a group of people in close physical proximity and last but not the least, mass communication which involves the communicator communicates with a large number of people using any form of mass medium (Hiebert, Ungurait and Bohn, 1982).
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The number of newspapers being given out to the readers is increasing day by day and it is becoming one of the powerful forms of mass medium. They are becoming bigger each year. Newspapers have maintained a strong and healthy economic posture throughout the 1970’s till the 1990’s. Newspapers also receive a large amount of income from advertising companies. Newspapers are just like other forms of mass media. They are, structured, organised, and have a complex mechanism. Literally, thousands of words are used to form a metropolitan daily newspaper, from different sources. These words are selected, sorted, evaluated, checked, edited, rewritten, laid out, set in type, made into pages, printed and distributed to readers. All this happens in less than 24 hours. In order to gain maximum attention from the readers, news is modified and words are used which will grab the interest of the readers (Hiebert, Ungurait and Bohn, 1982).
Newspapers play a very important role in informing people and also creating more opportunities and challenges for the existing media. Newspapers are extremely handy and provide with information which are updated regularly. They are affordable and easily accessible. It helps us to form a sophisticated and liberal approach towards the political, economical, social and entertainment life. It helps us to increase our knowledge by giving us a lot of important information which is available for all ages and to all the people belonging to different social status. It is not necessary that everyone can afford a television set in their house or know how to use the internet in order to get information; newspapers can be undoubtedly relied on for the information and knowledge to be received. It plays a vital role in every person’s life and has become a global need of every society and culture. It also benefits the companies and organisation to sell their products through publishing their advertisements in the newspapers. It helps the children to improve their research and reading skills. The main aim of the newspapers is to promote freedom of speech and expression to the journalists in order to portray and present the truth in the society and make people aware with everything that is going on globally.
Newspapers keep the people informed. They inform the people about different activities that are going on in their society. They inform people about the political activities of their government. They give detailed information about the speeches and statements that their local government says in the meetings which cannot be covered by television and radio. Daily newspapers criticise the rules and regulations of the politicians and the government and are extremely fair in their decision.
Newspapers play a very fair role in informing people about the happenings in their society. They inform people not only about the political and government policies but also about the policies of the government in different fields like agriculture, industry and commerce. They give light to the problems faced by the farmers, labours and other working class people.
Newspapers portray a true and correct picture of the society. They describe the activities of the people in different fields like education business industry, law, medicine, religion, culture, science, and so on. They tell us about different crime that is taking place not only in their society but all over the world. They tell us about the changes taking place in the political, economic and social backgrounds in different countries. They give descriptions of not only the changes in the government and revolutions in different parts of the world but also the changes that take place in other societies in education, science, medicine, agriculture, industry and defence preparation.
Newspapers play a vital role in demonstrating the political agenda. Responsibilities also play a very important role and it is linked to the demonstration of today’s political agenda (Schmitt in Hiebert and Reuss, 1988). ‘Most of us would agree that a free press is important to our constitutional system and should now be subject to artificial or imposed checks and balances. Yet in the absence of such restraints, the press is obliged to exercise voluntarily at least as much caution as is required to the government. Unless the press recognises this obligation to our democracy, the public will continue to be ill informed on issues of risks, not understanding what information should be sought and, either passively or actively, support unwise national policies. Eventually, this could endanger all our institutions, including our free press’ (Schmitt in Hiebert and Reuss, 1988: 41)
As Bob Woodward of the Washington Post said that, “Our job, simply and happily, is to find out what’s going on and publish it” (Schmitt in Hiebert and Reuss, 1988: 39). The press is unable or un- willing to make minor but very important distinctions, for example, difference between the nuclear accident and a commercial nuclear plant accident. Both the accidents sound similar but are completely different in their meaning. The press ignores such subtle differences (Schmitt in Hiebert and Reuss, 1988).
Since the first public news sheets called ‘Acta Diurna’ was posted in 59 B.C by the Romans, the communication of news has been guarded carefully. The distribution of news is completely under strict control and regulation. Even after the development of printing press in the mid fifteenth century, it took more than 150 years for the political climate to change (Hiebert, Ungurait and Bohn, 1982: 244). When Henry VIII came to the throne of England, he set up strong measures to control printing. For more than hundred years, British maintained these restrictions on the press. The first English language newspaper called ‘London Gazette’ was published in 1665. In 1702, the first daily newspaper, the ‘Daily Courant’ was published in London and in these 37 years; English newspapers have won a lot of rights, including the freedom to publish without a license (Hiebert, Ungurait and Bohn, 1982: 245).
The main objective of this research is to find out to what extent the newspapers have a liberal bias in a particular country and to find out, to what extent do they have freedom of speech and expression on any topic. In order to make my research more accurate, I will be taking the reaction of people in different parts of the country on the caricature of Prophet Muhammad in 2006 as my main issue. This will be a quantification of social dynamics and ethics in global society. It is the aim of this project to assess the rate of liberty the newspapers have over the freedom of speech in different countries. In this essay, I will look at the reaction of the people and newspapers to the publishing of the Muhammad cartoons in various parts of the World. Since the Muhammad cartoons will obviously have generated the most anger in the Middle East and North Africa; I have chosen to ignore those major regions.
The region I will focus on is the Indian Sub-Continent.
Being an Indian, where the Muslim population is second highest after Indonesia, and it would therefore seem odd to not take into account the views professed in India; as also in the region where I belong.
That answers the “who?” of my paper.
I said that this is meant to be a quantification of the social dynamics in a Global Society. What does that entail?
A multitude of objects, to be honest, all of which are inter-linked, across the realm of the socio-politics and the economics. While it is still early in the stage to measure a fall out; I believe that it may be possible to extrapolate on the Raw data I gathered from my content analysis, by which I can posit some possible ramifications for Governments and Businesses alike, and the Press too.
The basic questions I ask myself in the analysis, then?
(1) What was the nature of the defence / consternation the Press involved itself in with relation to this issue?
(2) Was the language used inflammatory, did it attempt towards peace brokering, did it make a definitive stand?
(3) What was the stand that papers took?
(4) What was the reaction the public gave to those points of view?
The answers that I found were then funnelled to add specific weight to my proposition, to contradict it, or to re-evaluate it.
That Democracies furnish the Press with certain rights to publish that must not be curbed (the tabloid press is a different matter-it is the mainstream Press we discuss here). That newspapers tend towards biases or political tilts is undoubtedly undeniable, and newspapers must not be open to government censure in the matter of press freedom. While it is imperative that newspapers publish with responsibility to all share-holders; which in the field of Mass Media implies subscribers and second-hand (re-issues, internet) readers.
What we’re trying to establish is what negative effects such stories can have upon the circulation of national newspapers and the reaction of the public to them; and on the portrayal of either to the countries they deal with.
There are multiple possibilities of where this research could be used-in social dynamics as we mentioned, in assessing press freedom or quantifying media ethics; and also in more basic analysis like the reaction of people to such incidents, (such as the boycotting of Western-made products in many parts of the Muslim world) not even getting to protests involving mass flag and effigy and product burning.
I will discuss this further in my conclusions
The research will be based on content analysis to find out the role of the newspapers in different countries and various reasons of their different characteristics. Most of the research that I will be doing will be based on newspaper articles along with a few interviews because newspapers reach to a mass audience with messages that originate from a single point but reach very large audiences. The sample frame for collecting data would consist of newspaper articles published in 2006 which covered the news on the caricature of Prophet Muhammad. The articles involved would be from different newspapers of the Indian sub-continent. Most of the approaches that will be used will consist of data analysis, reaction of the people belonging to different parts of the country, the extent to which the newspapers have freedom of speech and expression. This data will be then used to interpret results or sometime criticise the views presented earlier in a literature or published by other author. The new framework would be mainly based on these observations and interpretations.
The first stage in the research process will be a literature review of previous research and policy concerning the freedom of speech and expression possessed by the newspapers. Relevant literature will also be reviewed from India. Specialist documentation centres and digital libraries will be accessed and used for this part of the project. The literature reviewed will be assessed for quality and evaluated on its methodological rigour.
Qualitative Research: Interviews
By this, I mean one to one questioning. It will give me a great insight, if I will be able to speak to the journalists who have worked on this topic in 2006. Questions will be prepared before speaking to the journalists. My best bet will be to be able to speak to those journalists, who have written articles on the issue that I will be doing my research on. Journalists who have covered the story on television will also be interviewed.
Qualitative Research: Content Analysis
One of the systematic way to describe and analyses media content in a more comprehensive way is content analysis. But this is not the only method of conducting research (Hansen, et. al., 1988).
“Content Analysis is a research technique for the objective, systematic and quantitative description of the manifest content of communication” (Berelson in Hensen, et. al., 1988: 94).
Indeed, content analysis has many cons, like ‘fragmentation of textual wholes’, ‘positivist notion of objectivity’, lack of a theory of meaning’, but it has a theoretical framework which is offered by other more qualitative approaches, it is systematic, it has prescriptions for use and it brings a methodological rigour (Hansen, et. al., 1988: 91). As a communication research method, content analysis is distinguished by its long pedigree. The main aim of content analysis is to examine how news, drama, advertising and entertainment output had and would reflect social and cultural issues, values and phenomena. It is used to identify and count the occurrence of specified characteristics or dimensions of texts, and through this, to be able to say something about the messages, images, representations of such texts and their wider social significance (Hansen, et. al., 1988).
The second stage of this report will be doing the Content Analysis based on the coding system. The first step of content analysis will be to define the problem on which I will be doing my research on, thoroughly. The second step will be to decide which newspapers will I select from different countries and what time frame will I have to concentrate on. For my report, I will be looking at the articles published in 2006 between January and February. The third step will be to define the analytical categories related to my research then comes the sorting out of articles which are going to be used. Next is constructing and preparing a coding schedule which will be followed by segregating the acquired knowledge and samples by the research done. The next step is to collect all the important data which are going to be useful for my research and piloting them in the coding schedule and checking the reliability of the sources. After that, the most important part of the essay, that is, analysis and data preparation of the material will be done.
In the coding frame, variables such as, the type of issues, the place where it was published, the focus or the perspective of the newspapers and the people will be looked at and lastly, the source of the article will be analysed. These variables will play a very vital role to determine the extent of freedom of speech and expression received by the journalists to print in the newspapers.
The reason for me to choose content analysis as my method of research is because content analysis is very well suited for analysing and mapping key characteristics of large bodies of text, and it lends itself well to the systematic charting of long term changes and trends in media coverage. It looks directly at communication via transcripts and texts. Therefore it gets the central aspect of social interaction. Both qualitative and quantitative operations can be analysed. Content analysis can be extremely useful in order to provide extremely valuable or historical information over time through analysis of texts. It helps to interpret the text for the purposes such as the development of expert systems. It is an unnoticeable method for analysing interactions (http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/research/content/com2d2.cfm).
But Content analysis has its own disadvantages also. They can be extremely time consuming. It is subject to increasing number of errors. It can sometimes be difficult to computerise or automate. It often dismisses the context which was used to produce the text and also the things which will be used after the conclusion is made (http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/research/content/com2d3.cfm).
The other methods of research that could be used are surveys, questionnaires and case studies. But these methods will not be used as these methods helps in getting a conclusion on either a particular topic or a person which is not the motive of my research. Also these methods are extremely time consuming which would not even help me get on to my conclusion any faster.
As this is a controversial topic, I will have to take a lot of care while conducting my research and will make sure it does not offend any individual. Religious matters, personal incidents, will be taken into consideration and will not harm any individual’s policies.
The estimated timescale for the entire research is approximately 24 weeks which excludes the weeks which I have used to decide and prepare my dissertation proposal. A further split of each task and its associated duration is given in Table 1 below.
Collecting books, articles and other material for initial studies
5th Feb, 2010
19th Feb, 2010
20th Feb, 2010
26th Feb, 2010
Collecting relevant books, articles and other material for initial studies
17th April, 2010
25th April, 2010
Performing Research and Data collection
26th April 2010
7th June 2010
7th June 2010
28th June 2010
Interpretation of analysis and building results
29th June, 2010
13th July 2010
Combining all chapters as a project and making final adjustments
14th July, 2010
4th August 2010
Provision of first draft to advisor and obtaining a feedback
5th August 2010
26th August 2010
Making necessary corrections and additional work proposed by supervisor
26th August 2010
31st August 2010
Provision of second draft to advisor and obtaining a feedback
1st September, 2010
15th September, 2010
Making necessary corrections (if any) and additional work proposed by supervisor
16th September, 2010
24th September, 2010
30th September, 2010
30th September, 2010
Table 1: Timeline for the entire research project.
What do I take from those 5 points, then? The lessons I will learn after my research will paint a broad canvas (which is the intention to begin with)
Where do I go from here? Well, I will propose a solution that is based on the nature of economics and trade rather than “re-education” or any other technique.
It is only through active engagement of all nations-not via economic incentives, but by improving the quality of life-therefore not completely profit-driven but goodwill-driven economic engagement of the non- Western Allied nations can Global stability be achieved in any form.
The West has a lot of work to do and a long road ahead-short-term economic viability should come second to developing the economies of nations to handle future spending.
The objective of this essay was to understand my dissertation topic properly and decide which methods will be used to conduct my research. Understanding the methods of research is also very important. This essay has helped me understand the methods which I will be using for my research, completely. It has also made my work a little easier because now I exactly know what I will be doing in my dissertation.
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The aim of this paper was about using Research Methods as a tool to gauge where the World is today, and where we are heading. I believe the dissertation will give enough of a gist about both those ideas. The ball will lie in the Court of Policy-Makers across the World; and the World does stand at an uneasy balance today-in a Cold Waresque manner. We are interlinked by a catastrophic imaginary today; and to hope, to live in the future imply acting upon it now.
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