Abroad

British news operates in a distinctive and different way, better than American news

The United Kingdom’s extensive news media outlets like BBC are impressive, especially for a journalism student.

The BBC is the embodiment of journalism, primarily because it is a publically funded news company. Viewers must pay a license fee if they want to watch television at home or use streaming services online, which then give them access to the plethora of services the broadcaster offers. Other news services, although more commercial in nature, still have good programming.

The idea of having a nationally funded company as the country’s main source of news puts the BBC in a special position. It generates high quality content without considering the number of viewers. This makes it so the BBC has the ability to create programming for all groups of people, including minorities. the BBC’s News service upholds a responsibility to present news in a traditional, objective way using trustworthy sources. Through this public service, the people living in the United Kingdom have access to some of the best domestically created visual content in the world.

Christopher Cook is a broadcaster and journalist who has worked for the BBC and also lectures for SU London’s BBC course. He said the British press is “absolutely committed” to the two main political parties: the Conservative party and the Labour Party. He also believes the BBC’s role as a pioneer in the broadcasting industry shaped much of how it is today.

“I do think British media is, on its own estimation, distinctive and different,” Cook said. “The fact that the BBC was the first among the mix meant that its commitment to objectivity — to balance and all these ideals that were preeminent — and then followed by others in the television and broadcasting industry.”

However, the company is facing “a major crisis,” which, according to Cook, is taking place because it is “under threat from the inevitable need in a multi-news providing society to get the story out first.”

“I find myself not as disturbed as many people are by American news media,” Cook said.

The factor that worries Cook the most about American news outlets is their lack of variety among sources. Cook strongly believes one cannot be informed about the world in an accurate manner if only presented with a few ways of looking at it. However, he thinks this applies to outlets in the United Kingdom as well.

Although there are many ways in which the BBC is better than American news media — especially through its prioritizing of news and unbiased coverage — Cook doesn’t believe comparative judgements between the two countries would be a useful move.

“Somebody once said, ‘every society gets the media it deserves.’ I think what is interesting is to try to unpick the social, the cultural, the sometimes-economic reasons why certain kinds of television happens in different countries,” Cook said. “It’s not that one is better or one is worse. It’s that they are determined by other circumstances. Our job is to understand what those circumstances are.”

If a society gets the media it deserves, it will be interesting to see how Donald Trump’s presidency will affect the news industry in the United States, and how the effects of the United Kingdom’s divorce with the European Union will change the British news scene, too.

Saniya More is a sophomore dual major in international relations and broadcast and digital journalism. Her column appears weekly in Pulp. She can be reached at ssmore@syr.edu.

Comments

Top Stories