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One big learning curve

March 11, 2009

We did our final presentation on the findings of this blog on 26th February and on the whole I think it went pretty well. The opening sequence, where we did a split screen, with each of us pretending to be a different broadcaster – The BBC, Fox News, China Today and Al Jazeera was one of my favourite ideas that came out of the presentation. I think it allowed us to make our point ‘With so many voices…who do you trust?’  in a way that created an impact and grabbed the attention of our audience.


Myself and Tom started off the presentation by presenting different sides of the debate on impartiality, which in itself ensured that our presentation was impartial. Although Tom argued that you can’t really be impartial in news broadcasting, I argued that regulation, in particular light touch regulation ensures that broadcasters do attempt to stick to the ideal of impartiality and don’t stray too far from the norm. Owen and Daphne’s parts in the presentation worked really well because we then had two very different case studies on how impartiality and bias are viewed differently in the media in America and China.

The most nerve-wracking part of the presentation for me was the question time after our presentation, which gave our course-mates a chance to really grill us! We compared the American to the English model of impartiality which took up a lot of the debate, and explored how the role of a correspondent compared to a newsreader can differ in their approach to impartiality, or the allowance they are given to express opinion. I feel that our group held ourselves well in the question and answer session, which was a mark of how much preparation and effort had gone in to our presentation.

For me, it was really interesting to see what other people on the course felt about impartiality, since myself, Tom, Owen and Daphne had really only been able to discuss it amongst ourselves since Christmas. And, although we didn’t seem to come to any clear, definite conclusion on how impartial broadcasters should be, I feel that this was a positive outcome, because it reflected the debate and blurred boundaries around the issue. Impartiality is not a simple topic to digest.

What researching this topic has done for all of us in the group, is that it has made us more self-aware, and conscious of the fact that we do not come in to the media without opinions shaped by our backgrounds. As John Snow said in the clip from Tom’s part of the presentation, the way in which we express ourselves and the opinions we hold are shaped by whether we are male or female, white or black, working or upper class for example. Therefore I found this blog, and the research we did for the presentation has opened my eyes to the fact that I may view the world differently from my peers.

My own feeling is that light touch regulation of impartiality is needed. We need it to prevent broadcasters from favouring one side over the other and getting it wrong. But broadcasters must also retain the human element in journalism, and not forget the facts of a story in a desperate bid to ensure balance. Journalists must tell the story fairly, but they must also make the audience care.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. huijunzheng permalink*
    March 12, 2009 12:46 AM

    Ali,a really good conclusion,I get lots of useful information from you, Tom and Owen’s presentation. And I think it’s really important to do impartiality study of different countries in order to be a qulified journalist. Although sometimes I find it’s a little difficult to understand the way of reporting in BBC or other western media,I find it’s quite interesting to find the difference and learn from this.

  2. March 12, 2009 11:23 AM

    Hi Daphne,

    Thanks for your comment. I feel that I have really learnt a lot about the Chinese media from you, whereas before this blog and the research for our presentation I knew very little about the media in China. Because of the state control it seems a very closed world that is hard for an insider to find out about. It has also made me understand that impartiality is relative to the country you grow up in and your background.

    Are you going to put up more of the videos and information from your presentation on the blog?


  3. March 13, 2009 9:07 AM

    Yeah it’s all about context isn’t it really. It’s all relative. Take for example if you are born with no sight. Disadvantaged, yes. But as it is all you know, it’s not as terrifying a prospect.

  4. huijunzheng permalink*
    March 15, 2009 1:21 AM

    Thank you for your ideas.I find it is very intersting to discuss this topic.
    Well, I think Chinese and South Korean people are very influenced by the Confucian Culture which existed for thousands of years.And Confucianism is a leading role of political, legal system and the entire economic and cultural life in many Asian countries.

    And I think Confucianism civilization is a kind of philosophy, deeply affects people’s thinking.For instance,you may find Chinese people are very shy and don’t express their feel very often, like me,sometimes^^

    It’s difficult to explain what is Confucian Culture in English,as it all come from Chinese traditional language.

    We have completely different culture ,different education and different background,therefore,our way of thinking must be different.

    PS:I will put videos of my presentation at the last part of my post.

  5. Lindsey Cole permalink
    March 18, 2009 6:35 PM

    You had a great opening to your presentation. Good graft too. Daphne, I liked how you utilized your nationality to compare the impartiality of China with the others.

    As we all discovered from researching and also visiting each others blogs there were many similarities and cross overs within our group projects. We opened our presentation using different mediums of technology used by the media. It was highlighting the point “what is the quality” of the sources that broadcasters use. How much and who can they trust?

  6. Gareth Davies permalink
    March 19, 2009 10:38 AM

    Hi guys,

    Althought its been a few weeks since the presentations I thought I’d start by saying well done. Thoroughly enjoyed the presenatation, on what was I thought a potentially fairly dull subject (No offence to you guys!) The split screen was a nice touch and really clever.

    Impartiality is something which is being drummed into us on this course and it’s undoubtedly something which we have to be aware of. However one aspect that often bugs is the fact that some of the best known broadcasters often ignore this. Jon Snow is particularly guilty, as I believe he has previously spoken out over his dislike of the Conservative party. Although he is of course allowed his opinion I do feel this undermines him in terms of impartiality.

  7. scottjsroberts permalink
    March 20, 2009 2:07 AM

    Andrew Marr wrote extensively in his 2004 book on British journalism, how some journalists have been less guarded about their personal political opinions leaking out into the public domain than others. I think in the media, there’s an acceptance that journalists can still be balanced when it comes to doing their job, yet still express an opinion on politics when there outside of the newsroom.

    Everyone knows Jon Snow is a liberal anti-conservative maverick, (just read his autobiography). But no one suggests he play’s it soft, when interviewing someone from the left.

    I recall back in 2004, seeing a Sky News presenter wearing a ‘Vote John Kerry’ in London. I guess journalists shouldn’t have to keep it a secret, with who they are affiliated with politically.

    The late Tim Russet worked for the Democrats before arriving at NBC, (and he was the most respected political journalist of his generation).

  8. March 20, 2009 10:53 AM

    Awesome presentation guys.. it’s an emotive topic and you covered it really really well.

    Ali I totally agree that whilst impartiality is important, it shouldn’t overshadow the human element of the story. So whilst it IS important to have a balance of opinions, it shouldn’t be to the detriment of the people who’s story you are telling.

    Gareth, with regards Jon Snow I have to disagree. Yes he dislikes the Conservatives, but he is still able to be impartial whent he job requires him to. We all have our own opinions and ideals, they have helped shape us into the people we are now. Surely it is better to be honest with your audience rather than make out that you are some bland individual with no strong leadings either way?

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