Comparing Media Coverage of Events across Borders - Media Essay Example

Comparing Media Coverage of Events across Borders

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The imposition of Emergency and the suspension of the constitution by President Parvez Mushrraf, signalling a return to direct military rule has plunged Pakistan into one of its darkest phases ever. The mass detension of activists and lawyers, the clampdown on Pakistani media, forbidden to express any opinion “prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan” or its “integrity” and the summary removal of the feisty Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Iftikar Chaudhary who had been spiritedly resisting the attempts to curb the independence of the judiciary, arechilling signs that the dreaded days of military rule are back. The general has now been revealed in his true colours as a ruthless military dictator, in the mould of Zia-ul-Huq and all his dismal predecessors who had kept Pakistan in a state of permanent Army rule.

The reaction of the media – news values in context

The media around the world have reacted sharply to General Musharraf’s imposition of emergency in Pakistan, firstly as an incident of assault to democratic values, and secondly as a move to establish an anti-people military regime which is suppressionist and autocratic in every sense. Of course these two elements  are enough for media to celebrate, as they determine the news values of the modern day.

In 1973 J. Galtung and M. Ruge analysed the foreign news in a set of daily newspapers. They obtained very interesting results; they found that for any event to become a ‘news item’ and therefore considered ‘newsworthy’, it had to pass through aselection process. If it confirmed to a particular set of criteria,the news staff judged it to be eligible for entry. This is not to say that the staff were consciously subjecting items to judgement,rather that they used a professional methodology to ‘nose’ out a good story. This set of criteria Galtung and Ruge called ‘news values’. They are both practical and social factors at work in this process. The practical factors include timing of an event and the amount of space available in the newspaper or TV news broadcast. The social factors form a framework or pattern from which journalist select items that they consider are most appropriate. The criteria were Immediacy or frequency, Importance, Clarity of events, Meaningfulness, Expected and unexpectedness, Composition, Reference to elite nations, Reference to elite people, Personalisation and Negativity.

The coverage of the Pak Crisis has shown these news values in action and it depended on the several factors like whether Pakistan was an ally or a hostile nation of the country of the country of origin of the media type,  diplomatic relationship and the policy of the newspaper.

Table: Comparison of news headlines/leads

Date
Media type
Name/Country
Headlines/Lead
Nov 4
Newspaper
The Hindu/ India
Musharaf clamps emergency

Removes Iftikhar Chaudhary as Chief Justice citing judicial interference, new provisional constitution in place.

Source: AFP,PTI.
Nov 4
Newspaper

Internet edn.
China Daily/ China
Musharraf imposes emergency rule.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf imposed a state of emergency in a bid to end an eight-month crisis over his rule stoked by challenges from a hostile judiciary, Islamist militants and political rivals.

Source: Agencies
Nov 4
Newspaper

Internet edn.
Gulf Times/

Qatar
India hopes Pakistan crisis won’t rock ties.

NEW DELHI: Some of the most muted international reaction to Pakistan’s emergency rule has come from India, reflecting New Delhi’s need for stability with a nuclear-armed rival and neighbour amid a fragile peace process.

Source: IANS
Nov 4
Internet
Al Jazeera/

Quatar
Pakistan Crisis

As the US administration closley watches events unfolding in Pakistan, it still considers Pervez Musharraf the only man capable of helping with the so-called ‘war on terror’.

However, some politicians in Washington are now urging George Bush to come down harder on the Pakistani president.

Why does Washington stick to Musharraf?

Source: Aljazeera reporter
Nov 4
Newspaper

Internet edn.
New York Times/ USA
Musharraf Leaves White House in Lurch

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 — For more than five months the United States has been trying to orchestrate a political transition in Pakistan that would manage to somehow keep Gen. Pervez Musharraf in power without making a mockery of President Bush’s promotion of democracy in the Muslim world. On Saturday, those carefully laid plans fell apart spectacularly. Now the White House is stuck in wait-and-see mode, with limited options and a lack of clarity about the way forward.

Source : New York Times Analyst
The presentation of the news by newsmedia of different countries – India, Pakistan’s neighbour and a powerful democracy which has a tensed relation with its neighbour on the sensitive Kashmir issue and terrorist activities, China – who does not entertain Pakistan because of its autocratic military regime and US connections, Quatar which is a Muslim nation but follows an independent politics and Pakistan’s ally United States. The Indian national daily The Hindu, has cleverfully played up the story following the dubious diplomatic silence of its home country. It has carefully used the story from other sources like AFP and Indian newsagency PTI, virtually keeping itself away from making any comment, on the sensitive issue. The report can only be viewed symbolic of the stance of the Indian government.

The China Daily has also made a controlled statement attributing the newstory to vrious sources. It is also evident that the newspaper did not make any comment on the issue the very next day. The Gulf Times and Al Jazeera,media outlets from Quatar seems to be very much impartial and has taken different views of the issue. The Gulf Times has focussed on how India has reacted to the issue and Al Jazeera counted on what the United States is going to do with Gen. Parvez Mushrraf. Pakistan, it has been said, has always been triangled by the three As; Allah, the Army and America. The enmity with India also explains the enduring force of Pakistani politics. While the US viewed Pakistan as an ally against international enemies, it was useful to Islamabad solely in an India-specific context. The reaction of the New York Times clearly points to these underlying factors, and the reports centres on the US dilemma on the sensitive issue.

The reports have allproved that it’s again the newsvalues which is responsible for the selection of news, whether it relates to an international crisis or a human interest story.

Reference:

B. Bagdikian A. (1987). The Media Monopoly, (Second edition). Massachusetts: Beacon Press.
Boyd-Baret O., Mc Kenna J., Winseck D., & Mohammedi S.A.(Eds.). (1997). Media in Global Context: A Reader. London: Arnold.
Mohammedi S.A.(1991) The Global and Local in International Communication. In Curran J. and Gurevitch M (eds) Mass Media and Society, London: Arnold.
Backgrounder on the FCC’s New Media Ownership Rules, Republican Policy Committee, communique dated June 16, 2003
Jones M. & Jones E. (1997). Mass Media. London: Macmillan.
Robert W. M. (2000). Journalism, Democracy and Class Struggle. Monthly Review, Vol 52. No.8, pp123-27.
The Hindu Daily, Nov 4 (2007)
The Gulf Times, retrieved 11/11/07 from http://gulftimes.com
The China Daily retrieved 11/11/07 from http://chinadaily.co.ca
Al Jazeera retrieved 11/11/07 from http://aljazeera.com
New York Times retrieved 11/11/07 from http:// nytimes.com

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