OPINION | Conventional Journalism in the Sphere of Constraints

OPINION | Conventional Journalism in the Sphere of Constraints

By  Célestin Messanga Obama
Department of Advertisement, Advance School of Mass Communication, 
University of Yaoundé 2, Yaoundé, Cameroon

OPINION | Conventional Journalism in the Sphere of Constraints

Image Attribute: Niemenlab / Creative Commons


Journalism (the media) is generally called the fourth estate. This appellation makes people understand that there are three other powers, placed well ahead and therefore above it. In fact, this naming classifies conventional journalism after the executive, the legislative and the judiciary powers that we can bring together under the concept of “political powers”. 

However, facing the first three which can be independent or aligned according to the systems, journalism stands as anti-establishment. Such an opposition reduces its scope of action. In fact, the first three powers provide their framework of exercise and determine the consequences in case of a crossing of riding area. The respect of frame working or normativity places, therefore, conventional journalism in an environment of political constraints. 

A number of facts will thus be withdrawn from its agenda as a result of the law or several pressures. Facts which are not processed by conventional journalists because of the law constitute a source of dissatisfaction from the public which would like to know about everything. The more the pressure of politicians is visible, the greater is the dissatisfaction (request to know) of the public. Such dissatisfaction could explain the emergence of citizen journalism thanks to the Internet that appears as the pace out of control of politicians.

The economic constraints are more discreet but equally heavy as political constraints. An English adage says: “Who pays owns” to say that the tone of the media is given by economic-financial powers. In fact, facing several functioning charges, and even searching material welfare, journalists are subject to the pressure of economic interests. 

The weight of advertisement in the media economy is well known today. In fact, beyond official contracts, advertisers who are the main sources of financing for the media impose them more or less occult conditions aiming at influencing the contents in their favor. In the same vein, the media benefit from miscellaneous subsidies. The sources of these subsidies exercise the same type of constraints as advertisers. The articles thus “manipulated” end by creating a break in relation to the public’s expectations and instigate reactions aiming at “balancing” the information. Citizen journalism originates in this type of reactions.

Cultural constraints fall within all extra? professional considerations related to the social belonging of the journalist and with which he practices. It regularly happens that journalists feel culturally involved by some media facts and adopt an editorial tone. The report made on it can instigate public dissatisfaction. 

In the Syrian conflict, the editorial line of the newspapers of our corpus does not stand out from the point of view of political leaders in Western Europe. Such orientations instigate disapproval reactions in the public favorable to the Syrian leadership. Such breaks pave the way for what is today called citizen journalism.

Citizen journalism that claims to be popular, tends, in this sense, to fill the quantitative gap of conventional journalism. The wealth of stories does not simply pose the problem of selection: it raises one of perception of facts itself. Conventional journalism functions with blinkers that reduce the visual field for each journalist as well as for each media organ, what professionals call “editorial line”. Because that editorial line separates what is visible from what is not visible, it constitutes, in fact, a source of contention, because many facts cannot be seen and broadcasted. Facts which are not seen represent such a lot of points of dissatisfaction of the public who find an interest in it. In the same sense, the difference between editorial lines, according to media organs, results in variable imaginaries on the same fact.

Publication Details:

Advances in Journalism and Communication Vol.04 No.01(2016), Article ID:64346,7 pages 10.4236/ajc.2016.41001

Copyright © 2016 by author and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY).http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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