The modern journalism has been made by major developments including technological advancements in the way news are gathered and transmitted. The growth of trade and technologies in the journalism sector has been realized due to dissemination and gathering of information regularly. The routine journalism makes the stakeholders to integrate and strategize the techniques used, as an approach of increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the information broadcasted.
The historical evolution of the journalism techniques used in the sector has resulted to innovated ways that adds the passion and taste of the approach of delivering information to the public. This is due to various importances such as enticing or conforming to the modern technologies in order to maximize the targeted audience base. Another reason for journalism advancements was to increase the speed at which the information reaches the audience and reliability. That is why the journalism developed from newspapers and magazines by 18th Century, television and radio in 20th Century, and later internet by 21st Century.
The transformation of journalism industry was advocated by numerous scholars in the global society through different theoretical notions regarding the sector. However, each scholar contributed his notions towards the improvement on the way information is delivered to the targeted audience. This is because they provided unique theoretical ideas of changing the service delivery and overall career in journalism. Therefore, this paper aims at discussing the theoretical concepts of Denis McQuail, who was a communication theorist and among the influential scholars in the mass communication studies and related field of interests. The paper achieves the illustration of the McQuail’s contributions through explaining the way overall journalism changed. This is because of his effort in creating awareness by theoretical concepts in mass communication.
Denis McQuail had been publishing extensive communication theories, especially in the communication politics and theories. He concentrated at discussing the communication applications and theories, focusing at informing the societies on the merits and demerits of mass communication in the modern days of living. McQuail has been working at University of Amsterdam as Emeritus Professor and at University of Southampton, as Visiting Professor in Political Department. He utilized the opportunity in working in education institutions to widen his career in providing unique fundamental frameworks on the way journalism and mass communication broadcasts information to the targeted audience.
Specifically, this write-up aims at discussing the proposition that the journalism would be unavailable if the stories were unstructured and unorganized gathering of current information. In addition, the paper discusses the fact that the structuring of story formation and organization of journalists enhanced the social roles of journalism, as well as preventing fulfillment of the journalism objectives. The explanations are well understood in reference to primary readings of the McQuail’s concepts in his book Journalism and Society (2013). This is because the book provides a clear notion of the way journalism was improved by adoption of structural frameworks of creating stories and having the organized journalist in gathering important information to the societal world.
Various concepts had been developed by scholars of the era in order to have a fundamental framework for effective and efficient flow of information among the society. However, the framing of the journalism and mass communication topologies is characterized by extensive theoretical phenomenon that is actively contributed by the talented scholars in influencing the society to adopt their techniques. The efforts by the leading thinkers and learners led to the freedom and democracy in the roles of journalism in the media and communication industry. For instance, Denis McQuail provided the systematic explorations on bonding the relationship between journalism and the society.
Carl Max provided various scopes of press freedom; Charles Dickens provided the structural framework of storybooks, among other scholars. In his book, McQuail explained that journalism should be balanced, independent, reliable, factual, and have diversity in reasonably serving the societies.
Through his book, McQuail simplifies the theories of journalism to make them relevance and understandable to the local societies by teaching the necessity of proper journalism in gaining political energy and power. The book also explores the current and future status of journalism sector, as a unique and prominent profession. This includes the highlighting of consequential impacts of the modern technologies such as digital platforms that has dominated the new era. The book is much influential to the learner since it provides clear guidelines that are embedded to free online articles.
Among the top concept presented by McQuail is the access to information notions. McQuail mostly lists the access to informational channels in discussing the normative theories in explaining the relationship between the journalism and societies. It is a fact that access to information is a double-edged concept that is considered by authorities, citizens, and the media itself, especially in delivering their services to the actual target audience in the society. The effective and efficient method of accessing information or having access to media channels that transmit the information to the public is a fundamental necessity to all stakeholders. Such concept is the one that offers the factual, independent, and cohesive information to protect the members of the public in order to avoid any incitation or clashing of the targeted society. For example, the media can report rogue information towards the senior political leader that may cause tension in the particular nation. In this case, the authorities can prevent the circulation of such information depending with the policies provided by the constitutions that controls the ethical balancing in the media sector. Such notions caused McQuail to explain the fundamental concepts of ensuring better understanding of journalism ethics among the media personalities.
Access concepts are complex notions, as presented by McQuail because it is built under several variables. Among the scholarly studies started all the way since World War II where access of information was based on political powers (Truman 1951). Another effort of establishing access concepts in journalism field was in 1970’s where the world powers focused their interests on UNESCO objectives.
According to Morrissey (1997), various governmental agencies had been exhibiting and sharing the various systems of access of information. This is especially during the inter-governmental forums where each nation shares their model of access concepts with other nations in order to establish a formidable techniques or channels in transmitting the information to the audience.
The scholarly interests in conceptualizing access has been aiming the societal momentum of economic and political arena, as well as the roles played by the media in stabling the political and economical pressures. The important channels to be accessed by the societies include authorities, media, electorates, and the entire market situations. As explained by the Servaes et al. (1996), the access concepts that was established by UNESCO was established in the three fundamental framework of political analogies involving self-management, participation, and access.
However, the McQuail’s book Journalism and Society provides primary concepts of the way the society access information from the established channels. This includes their cooperativeness with the innovated and changed techniques due to the technological advancements. This is because the people’s expectations from the journalism sector differ depending with the class and status of the society itself. In addition, there are different factors that may contribute to the social variations in the expectation from media, as illustrated by Wright et al (2012). They include religion and cultural diversities, social class, political affiliations, and economic needs. In this case, the theoretical concept illustrated by McQuail in exhibiting the access of information channels noted the needs of people to adopt the culture of making the press the independent institutions. This means that the press needs to have maximum power to deliver ethical information to the society, although the information should be monitored to avoid incitation or polarization of the existence of peace among the people.
Therefore, the access concept of information that was established by McQuail ensures the citizens acquire the required information in the way they need or for public interests. The media professionals also utilize the conceptual notion to ensure they provide the factual, quality, and ethical information to its audience. The mechanisms used by the media channels should also ensure the good relationship between the targeted audiences or even achieves its common goal of ensuring every audience access the information at ease.
Such conceptual framework provided by McQuail in the importance of considering the best mechanism to access information in the media outlets led to organization of journalists and structured stories. Such resultants led made the broadcasted news to be high quality, well researched, or investigated in an ethical manner to avoid any future legal battles. Unfortunately, the use of poor technological media channels or concepts that promotes the accessibility of reliable information can result to poor access of information. This leads to various inconveniences in the overall journalism industry in delivering the services such as timely newscast or conduct investigative journalism that promotes the societal ideologies. For example, broadcasting the real stories of the way the governmental agencies practice corruption activities in their offices might change the normative behaviors among the societies to eliminate such issues that hinder developmental growth or transparent service delivery.
The other concept illustrated in the McQuail’s book is the free press analogies. The provision of the freedom to the media and mass communication gave the overall journalism a chance to have extensive and factual information that favors the interests of public societies. This resulted to the democratic prosperity of the media sector, as well as overall political scope of the country (Burrowes 2011). This is because the free press acts as a public watchdog to the public interests and informs the society on any governmental hitch or impending changes in the mode of governance. In addition, the media fraternity acts as a whistleblower or representative of the public by presenting the needs of the people to the ruling government. In other words, the media acts as a link of the people to the government.
Therefore, McQuail’s book provided fundamental ideas that can be enumerated by journalists in ensuring the social, economical, cultural, and political balancing when reporting or broadcasting any information for its audience. In this case, the journalists must conduct their research on any information to avoid any conflicting consequence that can cause mayhem in the society. For example, the media played a major role on development and growth of al-Qaeda group after September 11 attack since they were broadcasting real pictures and videos on the event. This created adequate attention in the global platform to the al-Qaeda group, especially after it accepted responsibility making it gain the momentum to cause such terrorist attacks and threats to the targeted nations (Denton 2004).
However, the concept of the free press resulted to various changes and developments among the media industry and to the journalists themselves by giving them adequate authorities to control the information broadcasted. The freedom of the press also led to faster innovation of high technological mechanisms of submitting the current information to the global society. For example, the establishment and development of internet protocols has made journalism to be more convenient, faster, and quality news coverage of different societies around the globe. It takes only seconds for a journalist to snap a picture of the current happening and share it in the online platforms such as social media including Twitter and Facebook, thereby informing people at several miles far from the location of incident (Meyer 2004). Therefore, the free press concepts led to different technological advancements in the way information is delivered by the media and received by the audience.
The other concept explained by the McQuail is the adoption of various approaches of perceiving the journalism as an independent profession. The creation of journalism industry to be a career choice changed the traditional model of mass communication and the overall journalism sector. This is because the specific institutions were established to sharpen the skill of the willing learners in order to have the capacity of delivering the structural stories. The career learning of journalists helped them to adopt new techniques of organizing themselves, especially when broadcasting news or covering the specific events. According to McQuail (2013), the approaches of perceiving the journalism as a career led to adoption of favorable principles of journalistic performances. They include the truth-value of basic publications on the public interests, solidarity and diversity, equality, cohesion, and order principles. Such principles have a notion of unifying the journalist to be one community with a common objective of informing the public on any area of interests.
The professionalism of journalism led to organization of the occupations and various operational frameworks. This eliminated the mixed expectations and conflicts in the industry that were steered by demand and supply fluctuations that change the goals and ideologies of specific journalist (Winfield 2008). Therefore, the adoption of journalism as a career created a foundational structure of leveling the journalists depending with their skills and experience. In addition, it categorizes the journalists depending with their roles in the industry or participation capacity. This increased the capacity of the media outlets to monitor actively the happenings in the societies, as well as passing information from authorities to the societies and vise versa.
Moreover, the professionalism of journalists enhanced the specification of characterized goals that acts as guiding principles of limiting the objectivity purposes and other activities in journalism sector. This helped the trained journalist to eliminate internal tension and fear in reporting or presenting the information to the society due to the monitorial responsibilities of the state power. Therefore, the journalists are trained on the media logics and the possible effects of monitoring for the public interest. They also receive accountability knowledge and skill since the application of their experiences can have direct impact to the society, which necessitated them to be informed of being responsible for their participation. The specialization of journalism career into identical profession led to the formative framework of administering the journalism sector to avoid future implications that may arise.
According to Blumler and Katz (1974), they argued that mass media have a necessity to follow the audience expectation depending on their psychological and social origins. These lead to different approaches of media efforts to expose themselves for better coverage of their targets. According To Carey (1974), such notions result unintended consequences either positive or negative but has been advocated by natural perceptions of the societies. In addition, it may also be assumed that the audiences are actively motivated to make their own decisions without influence of the media.
In conclusion, the historic trend of journalism is characterized by various evolutions that have seen the improvement and changes of the fundamental frameworks that guides on the way information is transmitted. However, various scholars including McQuail have developed important concepts that resulted to organization of journalists and writing structural stories. There had been several changes on the adopted policies in order to conform to the changing technologies and societal culture. This is to avoid conflicting values on the way information is transmitted or delivered. Unfortunately, the choice of poor mechanisms in mass communications may result to inaccurate or unreliable information. That is why the scholars keep researching on new techniques of journalism to avoid technical hick-up on the future broadcasting.
- Blumler, JG & Katz E (1974) The Uses of Mass Communication, Newbury Park, CA: Sage
- Burrowes, CP (2011) Property, Power and Press Freedom: Emergence of the Fourth Estate, 1640-1789, Journalism & Communication Monographs
- Carey, J (1974) The Problem of Journalism History, Journalism History 1#1 pp 3, 4
- Denton, RE (2004) Language, symbols, and the media: communication in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attack, New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers