Television News Program Analysis Project
All over the world, people enjoy watching various TV programs and even most people have identified with their favorites. Among all TV programs, news watching has been inevitable to many people who have an interest in what is happening around them, a state which is almost virtually present in all human beings. Despite the fact that watching TV is something that is done by most of us every day, the issue of analyzing TV programs is a very complicated affair and can be compared with the analysis of written texts. This similarity can be explained by the fact that TV has its own method of communication, a series of building blocks, and an equivalent to visibility that are clearly and carefully interconnected to enable the audience ‘read’. News broadcasting, being a TV program, is no exception and therefore it can be analyzed just like the other programs. In order to understand the differences in news presentation among different TV networks entails the analysis of the news content.
In many parts of the world, there are two major types of TV networks; the first being state sponsored stations and secondly private corporate owned stations that may be owned by individuals or corporate bodies. More often than not, we get to appreciate the fact that there are significant differences between government sponsored TV stations and private owned stations both in the manner in which news are presented and their sequences of broadcast. This paper focuses on the floods that affected Japan.
In the field of TV news broadcast, there are two types of broadcasting styles namely commercial and government methods of news broadcasting. In this paper, we focus the differences in the manner of broadcast of the disaster of floods that befell Japan recently among three different TV stations which are the ABC, PBS and the NBC. Both ABC and PBS are government supported stations while NBC is a corporate owned station. It is a common practice by corporate owned stations also known as commercial stations to mainly focus on the areas that would be more interesting to the viewers so that they may get a proper rating and as a result get money that will enable them carry on their activities. On the other hand, government funded channels are not driven by the desire to get ratings because they do not need the money as government provides it. As a result, they tend to report the more realistic, factual but less appealing stories that contain more information about a subject and therefore less biased. Government funded channels tend to dig for more facts in a story so as to try to bring the real picture of the situation at the ground.
A day after floods hit most parts in Japan, most commercial stations tended to present stories that were more likely to attract the attention of the audience, for instance the stories about the affected victims’ families as opposed to reporting the extent to which the floods had occurred. On its part, the NBC went to the extent of interviewing the families of those affected abut their situation and the life after so as to bring out their agony and suffering. Because of this, more people found themselves watching the channel so as to hear their stories. In fact this channel had its presenters all over the land interviewing victims on whom and what they lost. On the contrast, the ABC and PBC majored on presenting to the viewers a deep analysis of the situation and the aftermath without the use of unnecessary words and additions that would draw ratings among other channels. In fact, these two stations did a very wonderful job of deploying efficient reporters and cameramen to the specific areas affected by the floods bringing a very natural and real picture of the situation on the ground. Obviously, some of these pictures are not appealing to the viewers. Therefore we can deduce that both ABC and PBC do not entirely focus on interesting the audience but rather to bring the actual picture of the disaster to its viewers. There is also a bias seen in NBC because instead of clearly focusing on the real disaster, it merely describes it partially and elaborates its results which may not be very important to the viewer.
Despite these differences in the manner of news broadcasting among the three TV stations, we also are able to spot some similarities. One of the similarities is that all of them were sympathetic towards the members of the families that lost their loved ones as well as their homes since they had reports containing comments from key Japanese figures both in the political field and the business sector.
Two days after the disaster, the commercial station still had more reports on the victims’ families, and it also aired very extensive programs on the same in order to get ratings and also attempted to show computer enhanced images of the earlier situation in Japan. ABC and PBC both maintained their cool and unbiased reporting and continued to interview more figures of the state and the affected families for them to get both sides of the story without inclining to either side. They also reported the efforts by the government of Japan to resettle the affected families and the need for more help from foreign countries. The two state stations continued airing the story for more than a week without their concern on the diminishing number of audience of their other programs. By this time, the NBC had already considered the Japan story boring and therefore they resumed their normal viewing showing stories on motor vehicles, free land, etc.
It can therefore be suggested that the NBC channel presented partially biased information on the Japan floods disaster because of their focus on the victims rather than focusing on the effects of the floods as did the ABC and pbc.nbc was mainly interested on maintaining its ratings and increasing their commercial inputs as opposed to the two state sponsored channels. In addition, the three stations were objective on their reports for trying to interview various personalities and reporting on the repercussions of the disaster. However, the reports on the families of victims should have been minimal or omitted altogether because the news was mainly supposed to majorly focus on the floods and its effects.
These news segments portrayed several social groups. From the upfront the segments focused on different groups of people who were affected by the floods including the poor, rich and the political class. The poor people in Japan seemed to be the centers of interest of the effects of the floods since most of those affected lost their homes and loved ones. The poor are represented as having a dire need for places to stay and food because they cannot afford these basic needs at the moment. On the other hand, the political class is represented as one that is involved with the responsibility of letting the world know who is affected and who needs help in order to start life allover again. This is seen through the numerous interviews they are engaged in by the media personalities. On their part, the rich are the ones who come to help those affected and are thus considered as generous.
It is my view that the news segments in these news broadcasts vary in their overall aim towards the understanding by the audience. Firstly the segments captured by the government sponsored TV stations such as the PBC and ABC are captured at face value and there fore are not meant to entertain the viewer but rather to convey a very important message on the effects of disasters such as floods and the overall remedies that can be undertaken when faced by these natural catastrophes. As described and viewed from these two channels, the disaster’s real picture is portrayed and therefore the viewer is in a capacity to distinguish the different agonies and disastrous results brought about by these disasters. It is also an act of professional ethics in the field of news broadcast as exemplified by those involved in bringing the reality of the disaster as it is rather than painting a different and amusing picture to the audience.
Nevertheless, some of the news segments from the private corporate owned television channel are obviously enhanced for entertaining the audience through the use of computer modifications. For example, NBC does not clearly capture the real picture of Japan’s floods but merely presents some not-so-scaring images of the situation followed by extended interviews and comments posed by the victims and those interviewed. This therefore means that the stories in the segments are not told in their original condition. Private owned media houses often always try to modify stories so that they may be more interesting to those who watch them(Yaday,2004).this leads to the loss of originality in many news segments.
Finally, the difference in the quality and originality of different articles of news may often change my level of preference to watching some TV stations. It will degrade the value I have for a certain TV channel if it focuses on modifying stories about events that need to be told in their original states. This is because it is the desire of every person in the whole universe to get reports about what is happening allover as it happens without any alteration whatsoever. This may eventually make me incline more to state owned or sponsored stations for the real deal.
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Yadav, J .P. (2004).Television and Social Change. New Delhi. India: Anmol Publications PVT. LTD.