- The coverage of Pak crisis by The Times and the Independent.
The coverage of Pak crisis by The Times and the Independent.
Introduction: News as a construct
John Hartley while expatiating on news discourse in his famous
treatise Understanding News comments that 'news comes to us as the
pre-existing discourse of an impersonal social institution which is
also an industry.' (Hartley J. p.5) Hartley's observation defines
the nature of news in the present day and reiterates the fact that
news is no more a piece of information that transform society and
the world, but a commodity that is sold in markets just like any
other consumer product. The pre-existing discourse in which it
reaches us explains the politics of the news and the power behind
that shapes its course. Thus, it could be observed that news is a
construct in many respects. James Watson rightly comments '...we
are seeing, then that the news is culturally positioned, and we
view reality through a cultural prism. That the rendition of
reality is so convincing is partly explained because the news,
framed for us by the media, is usually all that we have to go on as
a portrait of realities beyond our own environment; and partly
because the news is constructed with such professional skill.'
(Watson J. p.122)
The constructed reality or the mediated reality has become so
powerful in our lives that we have lost the power even to think and
make a rational decision; the media has started thinking for us.
Reporting -whether it is about an international news event or a
local incident- then acquires a strategic importance. A single word
carefully used in a sensitive context can transform the entire
notion of person. As Hartley puts it, '...when we learn to speak,
we learn much more than words. From the very beginning we use
language not just to name things, but, more importantly, to work
out how to behave towards other people and the world 'out
there''.(Hartley J. p.1)
It is true that Independent showed a greater objectivity with
careful use of words and minimal photographs which were just enough
to give Benazir's assassination an international importance.
John Hartley gives a tribute to Roland Barthes' observation in
his seminal study of news. To quote Hartley ' Roland Barthes makes
a distinction between two kinds of pleasure available from reading
texts: plasir and jouissance. Plasir is contentment, but jouissance
describes a more explosive kind of joy. Texts which get near to
producing jouissance are not usually associated with news'.
Independent understands the sense of plasir more than The Times;
its what the news stories tell.