News Channels Prefrences

4141 words (17 pages) Essay

11th May 2017 Media Reference this

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After the last millennium year, we had seen a great budding in the entertainment news channel segment. With privatization came, the growth of joint ventured channels as well as big corporations joining the line. Progressively, it broadened its horizon into other sectors Music , Kids , Movie and Sports channels.

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We also saw a great mushrooming in the News segment. The huge growth was seen with increase in number as well as the audience response. According to Television Audience Meter, the overall television audience share of news channels increased from 1.5 per cent in 2001 to 7.9 per cent in 2012. Therefore, the amount of money spent on this segment was increased as companies could reach specific viewers.

The AC Nielsen survey conducted in India showed that 30% of the TV watching population watched Entertainment Channels during the prime time whereas only 8% of the population watched news channels during that hour. With the day to day increase in competition in the News Channel Segment, it remains difficult to keep up the constant viewership.

Hence, all the channels are running the rat race in market for gaining mass eyeballs. The news beats are repeated 24×7 just to keep the viewer stick to the television. These News channels have a floating audience.

Literature Review

The following is the list of different literature that I have consulted before i undertook this project. All these different pieces of work have helped us deciding the course of action that we may follow and also provided a starting point based upon which we have developed our methodology to achieve our objective.

INDUSRTY OMNIBUS RESEARCH REGARDING STUDY OF VIEWS ON NEWS CHANNELS PREFRENCES

Cyber Media Research had conducted a survey to understand a viewer’s perception, awareness & preferences .They interviewed around 703 households in Ambala, Delhi & Mumbai.

The participants were asked to tell their first recall, about their preferred channels without the help of any hints. They were then given a list of 54 channels and they were requested to choose channels. In this way, top-of-mind, total unaided and total preference (sum of unaided and aided preference), were captured in the study and analyzed.

Results showed that Hindi news channels were more popular than their English counterparts. AajTak lead with 66% of the market share followed by Star news, Zee news & NDTV.

This research helped us in determining the factors that people value during setting their preferences for a news channels.

UMAR SURVEY BY AC NIELSON

This survey covered the media consumption habits of Indians in TV, Print & Online media. They used random telephone calls, TV diaries, booklets in which samples of viewers record their TV viewing during measurement week, electronic gadgets like people meter were also used.

Calculation of reach:

Proxy Sample Rate: 10 individuals

For a single episode, if out of 10 people at least 6 saw the 1 minute of the programme then, the reach is calculated as 6 out of 10. Therefore, reach comes up to 60%.

Conclusion: The result of the study showed that English is preferred language when going for print media whereas the television is watched more in regional languages. 9 out of 10 people watch TV & nearly three-fourth of the surveyed read English dailies. Result also shows that magazines are not a popular choices amongst the rich & more than 6 in 10 individuals do not read magazines.

This research helps by informing us that the viewership also depends on the segments of people and their preference and lifestyle.

FACTORS THAT IMPACT NEWS

This article by Edd Applegate, a professor of Advertising at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro writes how journalists should not be influenced by commercials or professionally prepared news releases. He also speaks about how the news is being generated by PR Personnel and Manipulators. Manipulators have been successful in the past, perhaps too often for the country’s welfare. For example, Presidents of the USA such as Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon were successful in manipulating the press. President Franklin Roosevelt and his charismatic personality influenced what and how reporters wrote for the press.

4. CATEGORY TO ‘HARD’ AND ‘SOFT’ NEWS -CONFERENCE PAPERS, INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATION ASSOCIATION.

The study mainly focused on print journalism. However, as briefly described above, it describes ‘hard’ news / ‘soft’ news studies, which now does not limit itself to the print media but rather include television and more recently, new media.

Moreover, as we will presently show, most of these studies research the way the audience (readers, viewers, listeners) consume the different types of news.

Methodology

The data collection instrument in this survey is questionnaires collected through field based survey & Web based survey. The location of the survey was limited to the periphery of Manipal. The questions records the degree to which Television News Channels sensationalize and manipulate news and space for their suggestions is also provided. The survey consists of ten questions and the Sample size was between 50 – 60, which is significant for doing and Qualitative & Critical Analysis. The results will be depicted using tools like Histogram & Pie Charts.

Sample Size: 55

Types & Sources of Data:

Sources of primary data are

Businessmen

Service Employees

Students

Housewives

Introduction

Television in India has existed in India for about decades, before which the transmission was mainly in black and white. The first telecast started on September 15th 1959 in New Delhi. Color Television was introduced in India during the eighties by state owned broadcaster Doordarshan (DD), followed by the Asian Games which India hosted.

In the nineties came the broadcasting of satellite TV foreign programmers like CNN and Star TV followed by the domestic channels such as Zee TV and Sun TV. Prior to this people had to make it through Doordarshan telecasted mostly socio economic development programmes, programmes on agriculture, education etc. with very little entertainment in spite of which the audience were glued to their television sets. Around 1995 Indian viewers were exposed to more than 50 channels and by 1996, more than 60,000 cable operators existed in India. Entry of music channels, movie based channels, soaps started dominating Indian channels by 2003.

India in the recent years has experienced the rise of more than fifty 24- hour satellite news channels, broadcasting news in 22 different languages. Indian had only one government controlled television network until private satellite networks came up and hyped up their presence. These 24- hour news channels were considered much better than Doordarshan because of its virtual nature and its capacity to simultaneously capture and publicize “reality”. Even without commentary a television clip became interesting enough as was shot “live”.

Television as we know has the capability to reach millions of people at the time because it can transmit both pictures and words which become a very powerful advantage and keeps the audience glued. Also the images shown on television are much more effective and powerful than a static picture in a newspaper. However, news channels are on a look out for rating of a particular story, so ironically 24/7 news channels do not telecast news the whole day, the main news although is seen only during the morning, afternoon, evening and late night hours.

It is being advocated that television journalism should move beyond mere news reporting to in-depth analysis of news. News channels need to be more sensitive in their reportage and should present the facts in a new format.

The problem, it is felt with too much competition among news channels is that, in the race to grab viewers attention, TV channels end up dumping down or using the lowest common denominator to produce programmes that end up underestimating the intelligence of their viewers. Worse, channels trivialize, sensationalize etc. As more news channels enter the fray – the endeavor to ensure not just authenticity and empathetic portrayal of people, but credibility as well, would assume paramount importance.

WHAT IS NEWS?

News is a report of a current event Or future events . News is a description about current on goings in a newspaper, television, radio or internet. From all these, we can safely define news as a development that has happened in the past 24 hours which was not known outside and which is of wide interest to the people and that which generates curiosity among people.

W. Lance Bennett claimed, “News is usually defined as information that is timely, relevant to the concerns of its audience, and presented in a form that is easy to grasp.

NEWS CHANNEL

A news channel is one that telecasts, unlike entertainment oriented TV channels, the news that is immediate and effective. A news channels can do what a newspaper cannot because it transports the viewer, though live pictures, to the scene of action.

Previously, the Indian viewers had very limited options for watching news. For news they had watch Doordarshan during fixed hours, and some International news continuous channels like BBC and CNN which were available to few viewers. In the need to provide more news and information and to make people more aware of their day to day happenings, Zee News came into the scenario. This is when there emerged what is known as the revolutionary way of telecasting news. Followed by Zee News were Star News and NDTV to provide news and information to the mass audience.

In course of time, news stories that were telecasted in all these news channels began to acquire a certain exaggerated and sensationalized character that in a certain sense became difficult to differentiate between reality and entertainment.

There are over fifty news channels, including the national and regional, telecasting news all over India. This makes the viewer at times confused as to which channel to watch or just try and watch all the channel leading to the phenomenon called “channel switching”.

Television is a one-way communication; therefore it important to establish the credibility of news channels to ensure quality news. Information today is considered as the main priority in mist people’s lives. Therefore, in this competitive world to get attention from people, credibility is a must. For instance, if BBC is taken as our standard, the Indian channel are long associated with that of BBC, how many of them are even making an attempt to do that is a question that crosses many viewer’s mind.

Sensationalism – a conceptual framework

The media, especially the news media , has been identified as the fourth estate that works to inform and educate the people in a manner that is fair and accurate while maintaining “objectivity”; a term used often in the expression of news.

Yadav and Sharma (2006) quote Dr N Bhaskara Rao, chairman of the centre for media studies (CMS), New Delhi, “Studies indicate that the level of public confidence in the media has been on a decline. There are accusations of arrogance, insensitivity, bias, accuracies, sensationalism, stereotypes, trivialization, conflict of interest and disappearing line between news and views on the other.”

This brings up the question as to whether the media is overtly indulging in sensationalism and whether such behavior reflects a lack of accountability. Even a not-so-close study of news channels today will indicate a paradigm shift in the standards of news gathering and presentation.

Stories are glorified so frequently on the news that it becomes difficult to differentiate between reality and entertainment. Most often the entertainment quotient is higher than the information value. This leaves the consumer of the news, sitting comfortably in armchairs in heated living rooms, absolutely heartbroken at the state of this planet and the people.

Most often than not, the emphasis of the story is more on the emotional responses to a particular event than on the event itself. The superficial controversies gets reported leaving little room for in depth analysis of substantiate issues. The focus lies on the ‘juicy’ aspects of the story to pull in a larger share of the audience which can sold to the advertisers.

The news channels face a crisis with the ‘race of eyeballs’ as they cater more and more to the masses, their programmes accused of lacking dignity and credibility in their coverage.

News media is no longer brought to us solely as an accurate source of information about local and global issues. In reality, it is driven by a corporate agenda that has identified a profit opportunity for fulfilling our need to know about the world around us. Increasing corporate involvement has added a whole new dimensions to what we know only as ‘the news’. Now factors like reviewing ratings advertising, the 24*7 trend and explosion of technology play more critical roles ultimately affecting the content of the information being provided. Technology by itself was not sufficient to create the multi channel revolution. It is the programmes, their content, their forms and format, the presentation-style, gloss and finish that the ever growing demand of television channels.

Media- Money Matters

Though the media industry is considered to be the watchdog of the society with its primary aims being to inform, educate and to entertain, there is no denying that today it is driven by profit. Unlike newspapers, news channels and talk o not receive much in terms of the subscription. The cost of some production in terms of the various equipment and resources persons required to come up with bulletins and breaking news is quite high. The constraints of time further increase costs. Such being case, advertisements not only help to cover the production and administrative costs, they also accumulate profits.

News media organizations is driven by profit and the profit is dependent on the ratings received, it’s very important to take steps to ensure people keep watching. Causing a reaction in an audience will get them to tune in the following day. Getting people to tune in everyday is money.

Broadcasters buy programming outright from television software companies. The price depends on several things, the genre and the production house among them. Sitcoms and talk shows are less expensive as they are shot within a studio. Similarly, game shows may seem cheaper to make since they are studio – based but if the anchor is a big name the cost could be high.

Currently, airtime is bought of ratings and advertising rates that channels offer. The weekend Television Audience Measurement (TAM) ratings similar to the TRPs, gauge the viewership demographics of various channels and programmes. The study helps media researchers identify the attention patters of channels, programmes or time slots.

Creative heads in each organization constantly strive to come up with programmes which will keep the target audience glued to the television sets. Most often they experiment with anything seemingly fresh or just to publicize a non issue. What makes the TAM ratings even more crucial is the fact that the inflow of ads hinges on them. In short a channel’s success can be described as a crucial chain of captive programmes, increased viewership, higher TRPs, augmented inflow of revenue and therefore, better content generation.

Reporters or their media might benefit from reporting controversy because controversial stories may be more engaging and easier to write.

The 24×7 Trend

News programmes are vying for attention with other popular programmes telecast in different channels. The biggest task for launching a satellite channel is programme software for round the clock. In this juncture, news gathering is a major task for the 24- hour news channels. To cater to the task, the emerging electronic channels have not only revolutionized the concept of news on the Indian television but have also changed the news formats. From local events to international events, breaking news to news analysis, television soap to page3 news, every happening comes under purviews of news.

But the very nature of 24 hour news channels demands a constant feeding and re-cycling. The tyranny of the sound bite often reduces complex issues to ten – second statements. Heads of news organizations agree that today cricket, crime and cinema dominate news. Unlike the print media they do not assume a public interests broadcaster’s role and thus, let the weekend TAM ratings steer content.

Sensationalism

Sensationalism in journalism has been a popular topic of fiery discussions for centuries.

The word sensationalism is used loosely by people to criticize the media. Even in academic circles, the term has been used with little precision. The most common but vague classifications of the concept are by content: stories about crime, accidents, disaster, and scandal.

A few scholars acknowledge that formal features may play a role in what we have come to call sensational, but precisely how the packaging of stories contributes to sensationalism remains virtually unexplored, especially in terms of television news.

Data Analysis

Below is the graphical representation of the Demography of people surveyed.

Age

21 years and Below

3

22- 35

42

36 – 50

7

50 and above

3

55

As per Age

Question 1: Effectiveness of documentary style reporting such as Satyamev Jayate.

In the survey of this question it is found that 16% feel that the documentary style programs are not interesting or over analyzed, 36% feel that the reports are irrelevant and only 48% feel that the reports efficiently dealt with the social problems.

Irrelevant

19

Not Interesting, over analyzed

8

Efficiently deals and fights with social problems

26

Very Useful

2

55

Question 2: About Breaking News / Exclusive news.

32% of the surveyed population feels that the current practice of showing breaking news is sensationalizing the news whereas 28% feels it is to increase the viewership, 24% feels it is to inform the audience and 16% don’t care.

Sensationalizing the news

Increase the Viewership

Informing the audience

Don’t know

18

15

13

9

Question 3: Effect of Soft News Style of Reporting

If the news is framed into a more feature or documentary style it is found that it would not have any effect on the viewership of 63% whereas it would positively impact the viewership of 16% and negatively impact 21%.

Positive

63%

Negative

21%

No Effect

16%

Limitations:

1) Due to time constraints, the survey could not be carried out for a large and diversified population.

2) Our respondents are mostly professionals, students and faculty members.

3) This research is mainly based on media and in media.

I have covered only TV channels and shows. The study has not included any radio, newspaper or other entertainment channels.

Conclusion

The sensationalism of news during the dawn of TV journalism in India has becomes the foundation of media professionals in present day and age.

The missing investigative spirit, zeal of reporting and the absence of responsibility are all well thought-out to be reasons for these circumstances.

The ethics of a journalist has been replaced by money minting thoughts combined with irrelevant media morals where the information is manipulated and spiced up to become the ticket to roof hitting TRPs.

Interestingly enough, among the first few cases of news sensationalism is the William Hearst’s case of 1898. William Hearst owned The New York Journal, his false reports and pictures resulted in the Spanish-American war. The war in turn resulted to the end of the Spanish domination in Cuba. The world never forgave him for his professional dishonesty, hence the media named him as the father of Yellow Journalism.

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Although the print media learnt to evolve their guidelines following criticism of its sensationalist stance, TV journalism continues to carry on this disgraceful tradition. In unstructured societies like India, where media is not subjected for fixing responsibility and holding accountability, there is considerable damage.

Media now, is being measured less by how objective and credible it is than more in terms of the devastation it can inflict.

Lack of organizational checks as well as the encouragement, has seen news being dramatized, as well as spicing it up to stimulate public interest. The result is that often these unverified facts compose a major part of the information telecast throughout the day, seven days a week. This has blurred the line between the do`s and don’ts of journalism.

But Television News channels have certain areas where they have been consistently performing well, but taking to unfair means to lure people into increasing viewership is certainly wrong. They require considerable introspection which is important if media men are to stop contributing to conflicts and violence through sensational reporting.

Inaccessibility and the involvement of violent interest groups force media men to stay away from the gory scene. These make journalists dependent on second-hand information gleaned from different sources. In such a scenario, quoting well-informed officials is a blessing in disguise to keep the information clock of the TV channels ticking.

However, are media men justified in feeding half-baked and sensational information to the public? Does a political stunt, not corroborated by facts, provide the basis for solid news? Do journalists know that professionalism requires them to probe beyond the apparent facts? And do media men realize how insensitively the most sensitive issues are being dealt with?

The answers to these questions require considerable introspection which is important if people from the media industry are to stop, consciously or unconsciously, contributing to conflicts and violence through sensational reporting.

Bibliography:

Aurthur Asa Berger – Media Analysis Techniques.

Learning from Jon Stewart: How Soft News Programs Inform

Infrequent Consumers of Traditional News.

‘Silent Eva Jayate’ by S. Anand – Outlook-India Magazine -23-July-2012.

‘Hard’ News, ‘Soft’ News, and the gendered discourse of ‘important’ and ‘interesting’ – Conference papers, International Communication Association.

General News: The Necessity of Adding an Intermediate

Category to ‘Hard’ and ‘Soft’ News – 2004 Conference papers, International Communication Association.

Factors That Impact News by Edd Applegate

The Featurization of Journalism by Steen Stevensen

Any Good News in Soft News? – Markus Prior

WEBSITES

www.wikipedia.org

www.jstor.org

www.outlookindia.com

http://www.indiaprwire.com/pressrelease/publishing/2009090232854.htm

News Audiences Increasingly Politicized

After the last millennium year, we had seen a great budding in the entertainment news channel segment. With privatization came, the growth of joint ventured channels as well as big corporations joining the line. Progressively, it broadened its horizon into other sectors Music , Kids , Movie and Sports channels.

We also saw a great mushrooming in the News segment. The huge growth was seen with increase in number as well as the audience response. According to Television Audience Meter, the overall television audience share of news channels increased from 1.5 per cent in 2001 to 7.9 per cent in 2012. Therefore, the amount of money spent on this segment was increased as companies could reach specific viewers.

The AC Nielsen survey conducted in India showed that 30% of the TV watching population watched Entertainment Channels during the prime time whereas only 8% of the population watched news channels during that hour. With the day to day increase in competition in the News Channel Segment, it remains difficult to keep up the constant viewership.

Hence, all the channels are running the rat race in market for gaining mass eyeballs. The news beats are repeated 24×7 just to keep the viewer stick to the television. These News channels have a floating audience.

Literature Review

The following is the list of different literature that I have consulted before i undertook this project. All these different pieces of work have helped us deciding the course of action that we may follow and also provided a starting point based upon which we have developed our methodology to achieve our objective.

INDUSRTY OMNIBUS RESEARCH REGARDING STUDY OF VIEWS ON NEWS CHANNELS PREFRENCES

Cyber Media Research had conducted a survey to understand a viewer’s perception, awareness & preferences .They interviewed around 703 households in Ambala, Delhi & Mumbai.

The participants were asked to tell their first recall, about their preferred channels without the help of any hints. They were then given a list of 54 channels and they were requested to choose channels. In this way, top-of-mind, total unaided and total preference (sum of unaided and aided preference), were captured in the study and analyzed.

Results showed that Hindi news channels were more popular than their English counterparts. AajTak lead with 66% of the market share followed by Star news, Zee news & NDTV.

This research helped us in determining the factors that people value during setting their preferences for a news channels.

UMAR SURVEY BY AC NIELSON

This survey covered the media consumption habits of Indians in TV, Print & Online media. They used random telephone calls, TV diaries, booklets in which samples of viewers record their TV viewing during measurement week, electronic gadgets like people meter were also used.

Calculation of reach:

Proxy Sample Rate: 10 individuals

For a single episode, if out of 10 people at least 6 saw the 1 minute of the programme then, the reach is calculated as 6 out of 10. Therefore, reach comes up to 60%.

Conclusion: The result of the study showed that English is preferred language when going for print media whereas the television is watched more in regional languages. 9 out of 10 people watch TV & nearly three-fourth of the surveyed read English dailies. Result also shows that magazines are not a popular choices amongst the rich & more than 6 in 10 individuals do not read magazines.

This research helps by informing us that the viewership also depends on the segments of people and their preference and lifestyle.

FACTORS THAT IMPACT NEWS

This article by Edd Applegate, a professor of Advertising at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro writes how journalists should not be influenced by commercials or professionally prepared news releases. He also speaks about how the news is being generated by PR Personnel and Manipulators. Manipulators have been successful in the past, perhaps too often for the country’s welfare. For example, Presidents of the USA such as Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon were successful in manipulating the press. President Franklin Roosevelt and his charismatic personality influenced what and how reporters wrote for the press.

4. CATEGORY TO ‘HARD’ AND ‘SOFT’ NEWS -CONFERENCE PAPERS, INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATION ASSOCIATION.

The study mainly focused on print journalism. However, as briefly described above, it describes ‘hard’ news / ‘soft’ news studies, which now does not limit itself to the print media but rather include television and more recently, new media.

Moreover, as we will presently show, most of these studies research the way the audience (readers, viewers, listeners) consume the different types of news.

Methodology

The data collection instrument in this survey is questionnaires collected through field based survey & Web based survey. The location of the survey was limited to the periphery of Manipal. The questions records the degree to which Television News Channels sensationalize and manipulate news and space for their suggestions is also provided. The survey consists of ten questions and the Sample size was between 50 – 60, which is significant for doing and Qualitative & Critical Analysis. The results will be depicted using tools like Histogram & Pie Charts.

Sample Size: 55

Types & Sources of Data:

Sources of primary data are

Businessmen

Service Employees

Students

Housewives

Introduction

Television in India has existed in India for about decades, before which the transmission was mainly in black and white. The first telecast started on September 15th 1959 in New Delhi. Color Television was introduced in India during the eighties by state owned broadcaster Doordarshan (DD), followed by the Asian Games which India hosted.

In the nineties came the broadcasting of satellite TV foreign programmers like CNN and Star TV followed by the domestic channels such as Zee TV and Sun TV. Prior to this people had to make it through Doordarshan telecasted mostly socio economic development programmes, programmes on agriculture, education etc. with very little entertainment in spite of which the audience were glued to their television sets. Around 1995 Indian viewers were exposed to more than 50 channels and by 1996, more than 60,000 cable operators existed in India. Entry of music channels, movie based channels, soaps started dominating Indian channels by 2003.

India in the recent years has experienced the rise of more than fifty 24- hour satellite news channels, broadcasting news in 22 different languages. Indian had only one government controlled television network until private satellite networks came up and hyped up their presence. These 24- hour news channels were considered much better than Doordarshan because of its virtual nature and its capacity to simultaneously capture and publicize “reality”. Even without commentary a television clip became interesting enough as was shot “live”.

Television as we know has the capability to reach millions of people at the time because it can transmit both pictures and words which become a very powerful advantage and keeps the audience glued. Also the images shown on television are much more effective and powerful than a static picture in a newspaper. However, news channels are on a look out for rating of a particular story, so ironically 24/7 news channels do not telecast news the whole day, the main news although is seen only during the morning, afternoon, evening and late night hours.

It is being advocated that television journalism should move beyond mere news reporting to in-depth analysis of news. News channels need to be more sensitive in their reportage and should present the facts in a new format.

The problem, it is felt with too much competition among news channels is that, in the race to grab viewers attention, TV channels end up dumping down or using the lowest common denominator to produce programmes that end up underestimating the intelligence of their viewers. Worse, channels trivialize, sensationalize etc. As more news channels enter the fray – the endeavor to ensure not just authenticity and empathetic portrayal of people, but credibility as well, would assume paramount importance.

WHAT IS NEWS?

News is a report of a current event Or future events . News is a description about current on goings in a newspaper, television, radio or internet. From all these, we can safely define news as a development that has happened in the past 24 hours which was not known outside and which is of wide interest to the people and that which generates curiosity among people.

W. Lance Bennett claimed, “News is usually defined as information that is timely, relevant to the concerns of its audience, and presented in a form that is easy to grasp.

NEWS CHANNEL

A news channel is one that telecasts, unlike entertainment oriented TV channels, the news that is immediate and effective. A news channels can do what a newspaper cannot because it transports the viewer, though live pictures, to the scene of action.

Previously, the Indian viewers had very limited options for watching news. For news they had watch Doordarshan during fixed hours, and some International news continuous channels like BBC and CNN which were available to few viewers. In the need to provide more news and information and to make people more aware of their day to day happenings, Zee News came into the scenario. This is when there emerged what is known as the revolutionary way of telecasting news. Followed by Zee News were Star News and NDTV to provide news and information to the mass audience.

In course of time, news stories that were telecasted in all these news channels began to acquire a certain exaggerated and sensationalized character that in a certain sense became difficult to differentiate between reality and entertainment.

There are over fifty news channels, including the national and regional, telecasting news all over India. This makes the viewer at times confused as to which channel to watch or just try and watch all the channel leading to the phenomenon called “channel switching”.

Television is a one-way communication; therefore it important to establish the credibility of news channels to ensure quality news. Information today is considered as the main priority in mist people’s lives. Therefore, in this competitive world to get attention from people, credibility is a must. For instance, if BBC is taken as our standard, the Indian channel are long associated with that of BBC, how many of them are even making an attempt to do that is a question that crosses many viewer’s mind.

Sensationalism – a conceptual framework

The media, especially the news media , has been identified as the fourth estate that works to inform and educate the people in a manner that is fair and accurate while maintaining “objectivity”; a term used often in the expression of news.

Yadav and Sharma (2006) quote Dr N Bhaskara Rao, chairman of the centre for media studies (CMS), New Delhi, “Studies indicate that the level of public confidence in the media has been on a decline. There are accusations of arrogance, insensitivity, bias, accuracies, sensationalism, stereotypes, trivialization, conflict of interest and disappearing line between news and views on the other.”

This brings up the question as to whether the media is overtly indulging in sensationalism and whether such behavior reflects a lack of accountability. Even a not-so-close study of news channels today will indicate a paradigm shift in the standards of news gathering and presentation.

Stories are glorified so frequently on the news that it becomes difficult to differentiate between reality and entertainment. Most often the entertainment quotient is higher than the information value. This leaves the consumer of the news, sitting comfortably in armchairs in heated living rooms, absolutely heartbroken at the state of this planet and the people.

Most often than not, the emphasis of the story is more on the emotional responses to a particular event than on the event itself. The superficial controversies gets reported leaving little room for in depth analysis of substantiate issues. The focus lies on the ‘juicy’ aspects of the story to pull in a larger share of the audience which can sold to the advertisers.

The news channels face a crisis with the ‘race of eyeballs’ as they cater more and more to the masses, their programmes accused of lacking dignity and credibility in their coverage.

News media is no longer brought to us solely as an accurate source of information about local and global issues. In reality, it is driven by a corporate agenda that has identified a profit opportunity for fulfilling our need to know about the world around us. Increasing corporate involvement has added a whole new dimensions to what we know only as ‘the news’. Now factors like reviewing ratings advertising, the 24*7 trend and explosion of technology play more critical roles ultimately affecting the content of the information being provided. Technology by itself was not sufficient to create the multi channel revolution. It is the programmes, their content, their forms and format, the presentation-style, gloss and finish that the ever growing demand of television channels.

Media- Money Matters

Though the media industry is considered to be the watchdog of the society with its primary aims being to inform, educate and to entertain, there is no denying that today it is driven by profit. Unlike newspapers, news channels and talk o not receive much in terms of the subscription. The cost of some production in terms of the various equipment and resources persons required to come up with bulletins and breaking news is quite high. The constraints of time further increase costs. Such being case, advertisements not only help to cover the production and administrative costs, they also accumulate profits.

News media organizations is driven by profit and the profit is dependent on the ratings received, it’s very important to take steps to ensure people keep watching. Causing a reaction in an audience will get them to tune in the following day. Getting people to tune in everyday is money.

Broadcasters buy programming outright from television software companies. The price depends on several things, the genre and the production house among them. Sitcoms and talk shows are less expensive as they are shot within a studio. Similarly, game shows may seem cheaper to make since they are studio – based but if the anchor is a big name the cost could be high.

Currently, airtime is bought of ratings and advertising rates that channels offer. The weekend Television Audience Measurement (TAM) ratings similar to the TRPs, gauge the viewership demographics of various channels and programmes. The study helps media researchers identify the attention patters of channels, programmes or time slots.

Creative heads in each organization constantly strive to come up with programmes which will keep the target audience glued to the television sets. Most often they experiment with anything seemingly fresh or just to publicize a non issue. What makes the TAM ratings even more crucial is the fact that the inflow of ads hinges on them. In short a channel’s success can be described as a crucial chain of captive programmes, increased viewership, higher TRPs, augmented inflow of revenue and therefore, better content generation.

Reporters or their media might benefit from reporting controversy because controversial stories may be more engaging and easier to write.

The 24×7 Trend

News programmes are vying for attention with other popular programmes telecast in different channels. The biggest task for launching a satellite channel is programme software for round the clock. In this juncture, news gathering is a major task for the 24- hour news channels. To cater to the task, the emerging electronic channels have not only revolutionized the concept of news on the Indian television but have also changed the news formats. From local events to international events, breaking news to news analysis, television soap to page3 news, every happening comes under purviews of news.

But the very nature of 24 hour news channels demands a constant feeding and re-cycling. The tyranny of the sound bite often reduces complex issues to ten – second statements. Heads of news organizations agree that today cricket, crime and cinema dominate news. Unlike the print media they do not assume a public interests broadcaster’s role and thus, let the weekend TAM ratings steer content.

Sensationalism

Sensationalism in journalism has been a popular topic of fiery discussions for centuries.

The word sensationalism is used loosely by people to criticize the media. Even in academic circles, the term has been used with little precision. The most common but vague classifications of the concept are by content: stories about crime, accidents, disaster, and scandal.

A few scholars acknowledge that formal features may play a role in what we have come to call sensational, but precisely how the packaging of stories contributes to sensationalism remains virtually unexplored, especially in terms of television news.

Data Analysis

Below is the graphical representation of the Demography of people surveyed.

Age

21 years and Below

3

22- 35

42

36 – 50

7

50 and above

3

55

As per Age

Question 1: Effectiveness of documentary style reporting such as Satyamev Jayate.

In the survey of this question it is found that 16% feel that the documentary style programs are not interesting or over analyzed, 36% feel that the reports are irrelevant and only 48% feel that the reports efficiently dealt with the social problems.

Irrelevant

19

Not Interesting, over analyzed

8

Efficiently deals and fights with social problems

26

Very Useful

2

55

Question 2: About Breaking News / Exclusive news.

32% of the surveyed population feels that the current practice of showing breaking news is sensationalizing the news whereas 28% feels it is to increase the viewership, 24% feels it is to inform the audience and 16% don’t care.

Sensationalizing the news

Increase the Viewership

Informing the audience

Don’t know

18

15

13

9

Question 3: Effect of Soft News Style of Reporting

If the news is framed into a more feature or documentary style it is found that it would not have any effect on the viewership of 63% whereas it would positively impact the viewership of 16% and negatively impact 21%.

Positive

63%

Negative

21%

No Effect

16%

Limitations:

1) Due to time constraints, the survey could not be carried out for a large and diversified population.

2) Our respondents are mostly professionals, students and faculty members.

3) This research is mainly based on media and in media.

I have covered only TV channels and shows. The study has not included any radio, newspaper or other entertainment channels.

Conclusion

The sensationalism of news during the dawn of TV journalism in India has becomes the foundation of media professionals in present day and age.

The missing investigative spirit, zeal of reporting and the absence of responsibility are all well thought-out to be reasons for these circumstances.

The ethics of a journalist has been replaced by money minting thoughts combined with irrelevant media morals where the information is manipulated and spiced up to become the ticket to roof hitting TRPs.

Interestingly enough, among the first few cases of news sensationalism is the William Hearst’s case of 1898. William Hearst owned The New York Journal, his false reports and pictures resulted in the Spanish-American war. The war in turn resulted to the end of the Spanish domination in Cuba. The world never forgave him for his professional dishonesty, hence the media named him as the father of Yellow Journalism.

Although the print media learnt to evolve their guidelines following criticism of its sensationalist stance, TV journalism continues to carry on this disgraceful tradition. In unstructured societies like India, where media is not subjected for fixing responsibility and holding accountability, there is considerable damage.

Media now, is being measured less by how objective and credible it is than more in terms of the devastation it can inflict.

Lack of organizational checks as well as the encouragement, has seen news being dramatized, as well as spicing it up to stimulate public interest. The result is that often these unverified facts compose a major part of the information telecast throughout the day, seven days a week. This has blurred the line between the do`s and don’ts of journalism.

But Television News channels have certain areas where they have been consistently performing well, but taking to unfair means to lure people into increasing viewership is certainly wrong. They require considerable introspection which is important if media men are to stop contributing to conflicts and violence through sensational reporting.

Inaccessibility and the involvement of violent interest groups force media men to stay away from the gory scene. These make journalists dependent on second-hand information gleaned from different sources. In such a scenario, quoting well-informed officials is a blessing in disguise to keep the information clock of the TV channels ticking.

However, are media men justified in feeding half-baked and sensational information to the public? Does a political stunt, not corroborated by facts, provide the basis for solid news? Do journalists know that professionalism requires them to probe beyond the apparent facts? And do media men realize how insensitively the most sensitive issues are being dealt with?

The answers to these questions require considerable introspection which is important if people from the media industry are to stop, consciously or unconsciously, contributing to conflicts and violence through sensational reporting.

Bibliography:

Aurthur Asa Berger – Media Analysis Techniques.

Learning from Jon Stewart: How Soft News Programs Inform

Infrequent Consumers of Traditional News.

‘Silent Eva Jayate’ by S. Anand – Outlook-India Magazine -23-July-2012.

‘Hard’ News, ‘Soft’ News, and the gendered discourse of ‘important’ and ‘interesting’ – Conference papers, International Communication Association.

General News: The Necessity of Adding an Intermediate

Category to ‘Hard’ and ‘Soft’ News – 2004 Conference papers, International Communication Association.

Factors That Impact News by Edd Applegate

The Featurization of Journalism by Steen Stevensen

Any Good News in Soft News? – Markus Prior

WEBSITES

www.wikipedia.org

www.jstor.org

www.outlookindia.com

http://www.indiaprwire.com/pressrelease/publishing/2009090232854.htm

News Audiences Increasingly Politicized

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