The primary roles of Journalism are to inform and educate the general public about domestic and international political developments. Apart from this prime role, the news media is also expected to serve as a dissenting voice against excesses of power. In other words, in an ideal world the press would act as faithful servants to the general public, earnestly endeavouring to inform and educate them. But the state of media in contemporary society is far from ideal, which is reflected in the news product (TV news programme or newspaper) as well as the processes involved in making the product (including editorial policy, government censorship, advertiser pressure, etc). Instead of the media framework being set by democratic mechanisms from the bottom-up, we actually have a system that is directed by corporate interests. It is no surprise then that the general public is increasingly growing sceptical of the motives that decide editorial frameworks. The rest of this essay will cite salient examples from scholarly journals supporting the assessment that "News is what journalists and the media they work for say it is" and that its content is selected and composed to represent the interests and ideologies of a small ruling elite, thereby making the large majority of its consumers helpless spectators (Chang, 1998).
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This is done by maximizing the lead-in effects of national programming to local news. Promotional audio-visual clips to endorse the "quality of the local newscast has been used commonly to enhance this lead-in effect". But accepted norms of journalism are breached when this practice is commercially exploited by some stations. The American Broadcasting Corporation, located in New York, for instance, created such a news item almost on a daily basis, and the story was featured and advertised in advance to attract viewers into the channel's news. Part of the carry-over process involved news teasers,
"which were inserted in the commercial breaks of the lead-in program. These teasers were usually presented in visual form and related to the topics discussed in the program to highlight the relevance between the program and the local newscasts. For example, if teenage pregnancy was the topic of the show preceding the newscast, a news story about the local teen pregnancy problem would be featured in the local newscast, and a news teaser containing a visual clip from the news story (emphasizing connections between the show topic and the news story) would be used to promote the local newscast". (Chang, 1998)
Where contemporary journalistic practices such as news teasers fail is in fulfilling the stated objective of the institution of journalism, namely to inform and educate citizens. The aforementioned news teasers serve to sustain audience interest, but they don't guarantee "learning or retention of the information". These by-products of commercial, advertiser supported newscasts - news teasers - mislead the audience and give them false perspectives on what is important and what is not. Coming back to the thesis of this essay, these