Last week we learned the concept of objectivity, ideally a faith in ‘facts’, a distrust of ‘values’ and a commitment to their segregation. We understood it from four different aspects: fact accuracy, disinterestedness, practices and ritual. It is obvious that reporters are supposed to inform the public of what the real story is. However, when looking at the process of news making from the perspective of people within a news organization, I noticed that objectivity is never a goal that can be achieved but a myth constrained by all kinds of pressure within and without the news organization.
As is known to all, a fact about something can be naturally positive, neutral or negative. In this sense, every single piece of this kind of news can be described as objective if it is the true reflection of the fact itself. It is the selecting process which is done by professionals that defines what the final version of news basically looks like. If more positive ones are chosen, then the newspaper sends a positive message of the subject to the audience. If more negative ones are decided to be covered, then a bad impression will be left on the public.
When I recall news that was concerned with America in Chinese newspaper in the recent years, I find that most of them are neutral facts or positive ones. The overall image of America portrayed by the Chinese press is a prosperous, democratic and highly-developed country while the image of China presented by the American press is a typical socialist country which in their mind is always autocratic and undemocratic. As to the content of those news stories, China often chooses formal political and economic events to cover while the US prefers to cover those informal stories told by common people or anti-government organizations. Apparently they are both telling the truth, but when we take a look at their selection of news, an implicit preference reveals.
From my point of view, objectivity will be reduced whenever a kind of man-made selection process is involved. Finally, this consistent selection of most prominent media will set an overall image of a particular subject which of course has something that is hidden by the media and is at least unknown to the public for the time being. Preference of some kinds of news is very common in the coverage of political issues. Newspaper then is not only a story-teller but also a public defender. In China, relationship between the government, the party and the newspaper is always close. So it’s not strange at all to see that most coverage of America is positive or neutral if China is devoted to form a good relationship with the US in the economic, political or military field. In America, a kind of unfriendliness towards socialist countries defines China’s overall image in the public even though China has recently made great progress in the development of economy and so forth.
Ignorance is an art. Objectivity is never a goal that can be achieved but a myth constrained by too many factors. Reporters tell stories for some purposes or with some emotion, particularly in the political field. So if journalists do want to be more objective, they had better let computers to do random selections of what combination of facts is appropriate.
Ming Fearon & Jackie Wang
YouTube is a website that hosts videos that can be uploaded for free by any registered user and viewed by anyone. The site was created in February 2005 and was quickly purchased by Google Inc. in late 2006 due to its overwhelming popularity. Prior to this purchase, almost anything could be uploaded onto YouTube. Its popularity was due to the fact that it is a great and readily available media resource. People turned to YouTube to catch up on shows or news clips they could not find the time to watch on television.
However, since Google’s purchase of the company, many copyright laws now prohibit the sharing of some videos. Because of this, certain television shows, movies, and music videos are unavailable in their entirety or at all on YouTube. Despite these laws, YouTube continues to provide the general public access with valuable media resources. The internet itself has greatly affected journalism and the media because anyone with access to the internet can reach masses almost immediately with the right online resources. YouTube is one of these resources; an excellent example of this lies in the “Newsish” video we saw in class.
The creator of that video, Bri Holt, demonstrates the freedom internet videos can provide a person with. His website, newish.com, is simply a collection of all the YouTube videos he has created with his social commentary on politics, the media, and pop culture. Holt can express his opinions about pretty much anything he wants, and clearly exercises his right to freedom of speech through the dozens of videos he has uploaded onto YouTube. Unlike those who work on network television, Holt is able to say things that could be considered incendiary. Although his audience is not as wide as those of network television, YouTube allows people who are specifically interested in the topics he is dealing with to listen to his opinions. His target audience can reach him easily simply by typing a few key words into the YouTube (or even Google) search engine.
Holt is such a good example of an Internet journalist because he discusses subjects that he has clearly researched, and later fact checks himself and makes note of it at the bottom of the video if he later realizes he has made an error. If people find error with something he has done, they can comment on it. This allows for a user-operated system of checks and balances that is not available with television and print journalism (unless of course the newspaper is an online edition and it is possible to post a comment).
Although there are some copyright restrictions on intellectual property, intelligent opinions cannot be censored on YouTube. Holt can report on news events with integrity and honesty, which is sometimes lacking in the media. On the most basic level, YouTube changes journalism because anyone can accidentally witness a significant historical event, videotape it on a cell phone, and then upload it onto the internet for millions of people to see. With this ability, almost anyone can become a journalist (or, in that same vein, a celebrity) of some sort.
Journalism, according to the Merriam-Webster online Dictionary, implies the collection and editing of news for presentation via the mass media, in which it is characterized by direct presentation of facts and description of events without attempts of interpretation for appealing to current public interest. Over the past decade, the definition of journalism has been modified. A new term, citizen journalism, has also been created due to the advent of internet together with the advanced technology. Anyone being literate and with the access to publish news or own opinions can then engage in citizen journalism. This is one of the most obvious differences compared with the traditional journalism as people do not necessarily be trained as journalists. The internet, a platform where people can have sharing through texts and photos, opened the field of citizen journalism. Yet, YouTube, the platform for individuals’ sharing which was founded in 2005, has furthered enlarged the scope of citizen journalism as videos even generate more influences and feedback than pure texts and photos.
As mentioned above, anyone who is literate and can access to the internet can engage in citizen journalism. This greatly solved the problems of temporal and spatial discrepancies which exist in the traditional world of journalism. As resources of news organizations or news agency are limited, reporters can hardly be sent to places all over the world to get the news at once. Hence, excluding the news itself, pictures of the news events we see from TV, newspapers or magazines may not be the immediate situations. On the other hand, passers-by who witness the incidents can immediately record the events simply with their mobile phones or digital cameras then upload them onto YouTube. Perhaps the witnesses are not professional journalists, but those videos uploaded onto the site can be served as news coverage which goes even earlier than official news reports on TV. Apart from better efficiency in recording news by citizen journalists, the unconstrained time and unlimited frequency for people to access to YouTube is another advantage of updating people about the latest world. In other words, when compared with other electronic media like TV and radio, YouTube, associated with the internet, speeds up the flow of information delivery.
In the past, journalism is a one-way reporting where audiences are only informed from the mass media like TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. However, YouTube offers a platform for audiences to give while they receive. News consumers now can be news providers. Any internet users can be a journalist sharing specific issues or current events on YouTube rather than just attaining news from traditional news media. YouTube users not only can upload videos onto the site, they can also leave comments and ratings towards some particular videos. Although it may create more disagreements within the community, this kind of interaction can make more people concern about the social affairs and look into the news. In other words, such kind of interactive journalism can provide multi-directional viewpoints for news issues, especially for those controversial ones such as the local current affair of the express rail. Therefore, YouTube not only functions as a communication platform, but also pushes journalism forward.
Meanwhile, YouTube enriches the variety of news stories. As mentioned earlier, associated with the internet, YouTube allows the appearance of citizen journalists. Many general citizens upload their personal experiences, opinions and do sharing on the site. News stories and other materials posted by the YouTube subscribers can be re-used by professional reporters. YouTube, therefore, serves as an alternative source of news to professional journalists. For instance, stories like “The Bus Uncle” (巴士阿叔) and “Airport Auntie” (機場阿嬸) were first reported by the general public and then on the newspapers and radio. Journalists no longer have to be the witnesses to get a piece of story on their own. They can attain different news story ideas from the internet as well as YouTube as the video clips can be downloaded and re-used.
In some countries, such as China and Iran, where the authorities heavily imposed censorship and prevent media from reporting the news which they are not favor in. Not only being excluded from the ‘reality’, citizens there have a low level of freedom of speech without freely express their feelings. Journalists from other countries would also find it difficult in getting news or ‘real’ news in those conservative countries. Fortunately, the internet and YouTube provide an interactive platform for individuals and organizations to report and attain news, as well as sharing comments. For instance, when the presidential re-election was held on 12 June last year, there were protests against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The government stopped foreign journalists from reporting the messy situation and protests in Iran. Yet, many articles, photos and videos were uploaded onto YouTube by some Iranians so that foreign news organizations and netizens could see a better picture of the real situations in Iran directly through YouTube.
In the dimension of professional journalism, credibility is highly recognized as the media, news organization and news agencies have to bear legal responsibility for all broadcasts and reports. Unfortunately, the credibility is questioned as anyone can upload and publish things they care about, individuals, organizations or authorities can even publish fake news and messages, photos or videos onto YouTube with or without purposes. Sometimes, the mainstream news providers have also been duped. For instance, a woman in Denmark uploaded a three minutes video clip onto YouTube in which she was holding a baby, named August, and saying he is a result of a fling with a foreign tourist. Speaking in English, the woman said she was “trying to find August’s father". The video received over 800,000 hits. Many people believed it was real, and expressed supportive voices for the single mother. Some newspapers and television around the world even reported this ‘news’. However, it was just a hoax created by the Danish government’s tourism agency, VisitDenmark, because of the Danish government's intention to draw attention of the globe. This kind of negative exploitation of people's concern about social affairs eventually resulted in heavy criticism. Some people even questioned if that unethical video was trying to promote one-night stand.
Because of the advanced technology, everyone can record what he or she heard and saw by different electronic equipments conveniently. Before the advent of YouTube, people who want to express themselves on the internet have to be at least literate and have a certain extent of communication ability. Nowadays, for those who want to talk to the world may only be required to have some technological equipments and access to YouTube. Unfortunately, this kind of convenience for sharing information provides the ground of privacy infringement. As YouTube subscribers are not necessarily well-trained journalists, they may produce and spread some improper information which is claimed as ‘news’ but may infringe others’ privacy. Celebrities’ daily lives and behaviors usually draw the general public’s attention. Whoever witnessed some celebrities participating in some private parties or dating with friends, they may just record the occasions and disclose those celebrities’ behaviors on YouTube. Such kind of privacy infringement is a lot more than simply sharing what the eyewitnesses observed.
To summarize, journalism has not been changed radically. Still, the scope for people taking part in it is broadened to a wider circumstance. Journalism is no longer a one-way delivery of information and ideas only carried out by professional reporters or licensed media. As YouTube opened a podium for individuals to express themselves, share experiences and discuss matters people care about without special or temporal discrepancies, audiences can be benefited from a dramatic increase of news variety and be inspired of endless interaction with other YouTube subscribers. Although internet censorship imposed by various governments is inevitable, YouTube offers at least an opportunity for people to be updated of the ‘real’ world, particularly for those who live under conservative governance.
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
How does YouTube change journalism?
Traditionally, the common channels that people acquire news are newspapers, television, and radio. However, with the fast growing evolution of intellectual technology, people started to obtain news and information and even share their daily experiences through the Internet. This has brought about the establishment of YouTube, which, to a large extent, positively influences the global journalism.
First of all, the rapid development of YouTube leads to a change of news reporting format. Nowadays, people are becoming more and more concern about interaction, which provides a chance for YouTube to be progressively famous in the past 5 years. In that condition, many traditional news media agencies make use of online movie clips to report news every day. For instance, TVB uploads hot news to its official website and added a 24-hour News Report. Also, Apple Daily established Apple Action News which summarizes a news article with a video. Apple Daily also created an account on YouTube and uploads those videos onto YouTube’s server daily. Apart from
YouTube reinforces the interaction between the journalists and the audiences. After watching the news video on YouTube, audiences can simply leave their comments about the video. It forms a direct discussion for journalists and various audiences. All the feedback can be instantly and directly gathered. Compared to traditional journalism, YouTube is a much more interactive medium for news reporting.
Meanwhile, everyone can be a journalist today. Generally, if there is something worth to be reported, media companies will send a crew to cover that event. Everyone, however, can be both a news reporter and cameraman, gathering first hand and immediate videos and uploading them onto YouTube at once. Moreover, YouTube held a campaign called “Project: Report”, which is a journalism contest for the public in early 2009. Afterwards, the Washington Times hired the finalist, who only has experience of being a freelance writer, to be its multimedia journalist. In this sense, YouTube has broken down the barriers of traditional journalism entrance.
Moreover, the videos on YouTube are current and are always up-to-date, since people are frequently uploading new videos. People could watch these videos anywhere, at anytime. Thus, people do not have to wait until the news on TVB or wait for tomorrow’s newspaper for current events.
The videos depict scenes that are often more in-depth and first-hand than traditional media, such as TV news and newspapers. For example, the recent collapse of the 55-years-old building near Hung Hom was videotaped by witnesses who were there at the time. The video captured the live scenes of the cloud of dust from the collapsing of the building and was then uploaded onto YouTube. In contrast, TV news only broadcasted scenes of the wreckage but not the process, since the reporters did not arrive on time to record the situation.
Besides, YouTube became a source of news for journalists and news agencies. The typical example is the incident of “The Bus Uncle”. Originally, this is a video recorded by a youngster. After posting the video onto YouTube, it aroused unpredictable buzzes among the public. Eventually, it became a highly newsworthy issue. Not only did the local media cover it intensively, international agencies like Channel News Asia, CNN, and The Wall Street Journal also covered the event. The example reflects how media agencies source their news from YouTube.
YouTube allows people to search and view specific events or videos. Simultaneously, people are welcome to capture and share movies or events onto YouTube. YouTube builds up a free platform, and provides us an independent and unique way to publish assorted videos, including different political views or news. Since a large number of videos and films are available for the public to watch, many different angles of news has become our sources, which help us understand the political news in a more comprehensive way.
Moreover, many local newspapers nowadays have their own stances when they are reporting news. The mass media may criticize the news with bias, and they frame the news in different angles, which influences the audiences to build up different perceptions. To understand the entire situation, it has become more popular for people to search and view videos on YouTube. As there are many different sources uploaded and shared, people can choose what they are interested in and make their own judgment.
Although it appears that YouTube has brought a lot of advantages to global journalism, some drawbacks have also been prompted. The first issue is the violation of copyright. Many people like to record TV news and upload the clips onto YouTube. Some people also re-upload the videos produced by other journalist parties. These actions totally infringe the copyright of the original producers. Yet, in order to protect the copyright of their own news, it is difficult for the producers to terminate these people.
In addition, the credibility of the videos is often questioned by the viewers. Is the situation in the video real or fake? Because the videos are uploaded by ordinary people, not professionals, the events recorded may or may not be true, since the uploaders may have edited the videos, or that the actors are feigning. Suddenly, because of YouTube, every single thing is considered as “news.” For example, a popular video of a Chinese woman crying and whining in the
To sum up, YouTube has created a drastic change in the journalism industry. More and more traditional print media are using YouTube and online video clips as a new platform for their news reporting in order to enhance interactivity. News and rumors spread in a very short period of time. A wide range of sources is a good way to help people comprehend different events. But it also reflects a hidden problem, which may bring too much bias for people to form their own opinions. As a result, people are recommended to be critical about news, and should not believe in only specific sources of videos and news. Thus, people should connect with different types of sources in order to understand all-round opinions and information. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that YouTube is one of the most important medium for the public nowadays.