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Br(e)aking the News

Journalism, Politics and New Media

Janey Gordon, Paul Rowinski and Gavin Stewart

What is the breaking news in the world today? How did you find out this news? How do you know it is true? Was it reported ethically? What checks and balances are being put on the news media?
The answers to these questions reflect the themes of this book. The chapters are by experienced journalists, academics and practitioners in the field. They unravel and clearly present the recent and on-going developments in journalism and the press around the globe, including the US, Europe, Asia and Africa. Chapters deal with the phone hacking and data thefts in the UK that provoked a major inquiry into press ethics and standards. Twitter is examined and found to be a valuable tool for reporters in the Arab world and research shows how, in Australia, readers use Twitter to pass along news topics. Chapters also explore the use of the mobile phone to access news in sub-Saharan Nigeria, the role of media magnates in presenting political views in Europe, and Wikipedia’s representation of conflict. This collection of fourteen chapters by leading authors examines journalism as practised today and what we might expect from it in the future.

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TIM MARKHAM The Uses of Seriousness

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: Arab Journalists Tweet the 2011–2012 Uprisings The promise of social media It may be argued that the transformative power of social media derives from the fact that it eludes not only the temporal constraint of the news cycle, but narrative structures and news values that have long been divorced from any noble principle of public service. If the news that appears spontane- ously and organically as a trending topic on Twitter is not exactly pure, then it is, the argument runs, less sullied by professional gatekeeping and commercialism, whatever the commercial status of particular social media forums. Social media is especially precious in the Arab world where news is over-determined not only by narrative conventions and profit-seeking, but also interventionist editorial policy, a culture of deference in the news- room and simple corruption. But is this a fair depiction of Arab journal- ism or a generalization based on preconceptions of the Middle East? The evidence would suggest the former. Pintak and Ginge’s (2009) definitive study of pre-Arab Spring journalism demonstrates unequivocally that Arab journalists are under no illusions about the obstacles they face and most would concede that they are themselves obstacles to ‘unconstructed’ news insofar as partisanship is an accepted norm across print and broadcast journalism in the region. This could be interpreted as symptomatic of a generalized resignation amongst Arab journalists and there is a pervasive sense of low expectations about the trade’s regional capacity for professionalism, independence and fairness, but it is also a matter of...

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