Karen, Kason, Man, Winnie: Week 6 "Gordon Brown"

Top News: Gordon Brown

Recently, Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, has become one of the hottest politicians globally because of a newly released publication, The End of the Party. Written by journalist Andrew Rawnsley, the book discusses the anecdote and daily life of Brown, talks about the development of New Labour (the party that Brown belongs to), and even reveals something little-known of the party’s power. Some questions are stirred while reading this news event. After the book came to the public, many criticisms and bad comments of Brown aroused. We believe the book involves the issue of occupational integrity, or called professional ethics of journalists. It concerns about how the use of specialist knowledge should be governed when professionals are providing a service to the public.

Rawnsley’s The End of the Party claims that Brown is choleric and often assaults his subordinates who made minor mistakes. This book has already aroused the international publics’ attention before its publication. But the credibility of it should be the main concern. Most of the sources of this book are declared to be coming from the interviews and confidential conversations with the heart of the power rather than the firsthand contact with the people involved. The trustworthiness of the book has also been decreased, since it is difficult to prove the accuracy and objectivity of the statements of the interviewees.

Apart from its credibility, we should query about whether the author has invaded the privacy of the Prime Minister, as the book is presenting the working attitude and situation of Brown. Should a professional journalist reveal the personal livelihood of the Prime Minister? We have a reservation about that. Brown is a politician; thus, the general publics are interested in his daily life. Definitely, it is very newsworthy publishing a book about him. However, it may infringe the privacy of Brown.

Moreover, the writing intention of Rawnsley is another interrogation point. The author proclaimed that this book provides the definite account of the rise and fall of New Labour, and is even entitled as “The End of the Party”. We wonder whether the book can objectively cover the anecdote of Brown or not. It is not suspected that everyone can have an in-depth study and evaluation on a specific party, organization or even an issue if one does not obtain any personal stance and is being objective. Therefore, before we believe in what we have read, we should critically examine the background of the author in which whether he belongs to the opposite party and/or if he has received some interests from the opposite power.

Additionally, journalists have the power to influence the thinking and action of the general public by writing articles with their opinion. Almost everyone knows that the General elections of the UK will be held in two to three months later. With Rawnsley choosing to publish this book at such a sensitive time, it may possibly give rise to an argument that someone would like to affect voters’ opinion and attitude towards the New Labour or Brown.

Meanwhile, the UK Channel 4 News has interviewed Brown about two weeks ago. In the interview, Brown emphasized that he had never hit anybody in his life and declined the censure from the book. This interview gives the public a chance to study the case from different angles, as well as a chance for Brown to defend himself. As many media report news with bias, frames or with only one specified angle, the audience is advised to connect with different angles of news sources.

We also observed that there is a common problem in journalism. First of all, in order to arouse more attention from the public, reporters are more likely to write their “news” with exaggeration. For example in Hong Kong, Apple Daily reported Brown’s case with Apple Action News, illustrating the scene of Brown hitting his colleagues, and reporting the case as if the reporter has witnessed the scene first handed.

Therefore, we recommend that audiences should query different news. They should especially focus on the judgment to the reported information, which will influence the receiver to have different perceptions within an issue. Also, audiences should not believe in a specific newspaper or news reporter, since the news may guide them to easily believe in what is reporting.

Meanwhile, another aspect being analyzed is ideology. A common perception of a leader is stable, calm, and peaceful, as portrayed by the media. This perception is normalized by the mass media, influencing the public to accept that this is what a leader should resemble. The truth is, if the media had not defined what a “leader” is like, a typical person would not have any clear concept of what a leader should be like. Thus, when it is revealed that Brown is violent, temperamental, and unable to control himself, this incident becomes an infringement and rupture towards our perceived ideology. We would start to question whether an ideal leader is allowed to do such violent actions. We grasp this news as shocking, disturbing, and abnormal. But at the same time, it is exactly what made this event newsworthy.

In conclusion, we do not doubt that the claims made from the book about the Prime Minister of UK, Gordon Brown, and the bully censure are facts or not. The evidences being reported may be true, but at the same time, we do not know whether Andrew Rawnsley had purposefully framed his book, concealing un-supporting facts, and violating the integrity of a professional journalist. But we believe that if all journalists follow their codes of ethics, and the audiences have the ability of critical thinking, the mass media may possibly have a healthier reporting atmosphere in the future.


Channel 4 News:


Apple Daily Action News video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxJoMIFDTSs

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