Historical Development of Print
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Since the dawn of civilization, 30,000 to 35,000 years ago, man has been using written communication in order to transfer complex ideas, information and concepts. They made illustrations which until now serves as a guide for us to understand how they lived and what they believed in. With the extreme evolution that man has passed through, we then started forming our own system of symbols that had given us easier access in understanding the world around us which we call language. It was not until the time when hunter-gather societies turned into agricultural ones did a writing system came to birth.
One of the earliest examples of pictorial writing was found in the excavation of Uruk in Mesopotamia, dating from 3500 B.C. The Sumerians developed cuneiform and wrote on wet clay tablets. The Egyptians after 600 or so years, developed hieroglyphics and soon after, the chinese went on to make their own style of writing. The Chinese were also the ones responsible for the invention of paper as we know it. During the year 105 B.C., Tsai Lun, created paper. They used dried reeds to make parchments and with papyrus, they made rolls. Therefore, it is safe to say that the Chinese made the first of the portable and light writing surface. Forty years later, Pi Sheng would invent the first movable type. It would take literally hundreds of years later, in 1276, for printing to reach Europe in the form of a paper mill in Italy, and another two hundred years until Johannes Gutenburg refined a method to efficiently print books and pamphlets on his Gutenburg press. Before Johann Gutenberg’s invention of printing press, books were produced by scribes based usually monasteries.
The process of writing was very laborites. This remained true until the invention of movable type, which is attributed to Jahann Gutenberg of Mainz, Germany, (although the Chinese had a crude version of printing press). Gutenberg was a man of vision and developed movable printing press, which made the process much quicker and cheaper than wood-block printing. However, his investors (Fust and Schoeffer) repossessed his business before the first mass produced book was successfully printed. Gutenberg’s invention was revolutionary. It was the first mass medium, and allowed for free spread of ideas in a completely unprecedented fashion. The developments in the printing of publications years after that would be on the typefaces that would be used. The Industrial Revolution then came to pass and would usher in a new era for type and publication, particularly with Lord Stanhope’s invention of the first all cast-iron printing press, doubling the usable paper size and drastically reducing the use of manual labor.
The history of journalism in the Philippines goes back to the 16th century, the same period when England and Europe were starting on the proliferation of community newspapers. It was in the year 1637 when the “Father of Filipino Printing”, Tomas Pinpin, launched the first Philippine newsletter called “Successos Felices” (Fortunate Events). The publication was written in Spanish and contained a 14-page report on current events.
In 1799, following Pinpin’s debut in printing, he again came up with his Hojas Volantes or “flying sheets”. It was titled “Aviso Al Publico” (Notices to the Public), which served the Spaniards and had a role comparative to a “town crier.”
Surprisingly, it took a gap of a little more than a decade before the first actual newspaper, “Del Superior Govierno,” was launched by Gov. Fernandez del Forgueras on August 8, 1811. It was the so-called first regularly issued publication that reported developments about Spain and Europe. It was also the first newspaper that included in its layout the name, date and place of its publication. Unfortunately, the paper only came up with 15 issues within its years of operation from 1811 to 1832.
Due to the constraints of the church and government at that time, 35 years had lapsed before the Philippine press continued on its development. From the first regular publication, then came the first daily newspaper on December 1, 1846 called “La Esperanza.” The paper, edited by Felipe Lacorte and Evaristo Calderon, lasted only for three years. However, it gave way to the birth of other dailies such as “La Estrella” in 1847 and “Diario de Manila” in 1848.
Diario’s existence was significant because it monopolized the market a year after its launch and became the government’s daily organ in 1852. It was renamed to “Boletin Oficial de Filipinas” which later ceased circulation by Royal Order in 1860. The paper reappeared with Felipe del Pan as its editor and encountered another official decree that led to its permanent closure on February 19, 1898. There had been a surplus of newspapers but most of them talked about the same issues and had almost similar formats. Until 1862, a Tagalog publisher, Mariano Sevilla, founded El Catolico Filipino. It was considered the first Philippine religious newspaper, unexpectedly not managed by the Church. It was also a paper which seriously dealt with the problems of Filipinos.
Another first in the history is El Porvenir Filipino founded in 1865. It was the newspaper that pioneered in two-edition dailies. Later it was followed by Revista Mercantil which came out the same year. In the succeeding years there had been attempts to create a more liberal and mass appealing press. The year 1887 marked the beginning of a more opinionated journalism in the Philippines. It officially begun on April 1, 1887 with the birth of La Opinion. According to historians, “it was the first paper to defy the friars and campaigned for the ouster of the religious…”
In February 19, 1889 La Solidaridad came out as the “mouthpiece of the revolution.” It operated with its policies “to work peacefully for social and economic reforms, to expose the real plight of the Philippines and to champion liberalism and democracy.” The staff of the paper was comprised of known personas like Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Mariano Ponce, Andres Bonifacio, Pio Valenzuela and Graciano Lopez-Jaena. The later became the founding editor until he was succeeded by del Pilar on October 31, 1889. The paper ceased publication on November 15, 1895 which was then followed by the death of its second and last editor in the early 1896.
From the reformists’ newspapers, the secret society of rebels or better known as the Katipunan also came up with their own publication. They established “Ang Kalayaan” (Liberty) on January 1, 1896. It was edited by Pio Valenzuela, Emilio Jacinto and Andres Bonifacio. Unfortunately, it only came out with one issue when a Katipunero betrayed the secrecy of the paper. Nevertheless, its existence increased the membership of the society to 30,000. Other revolutionary papers that emerged in those times were El Heraldo de Iloilo on January 1, 1898 and La Libertad on June 20, 1898. Also in the same year, La Independencia was founded on September 3 by Gen. Antonio Luna and Fernando Ma. Guerrero. It was staffed by then famous writers: Rafael Palma, Cecilio Apostol, Epifanio de los Santos and Judge Jose Abreu. It folded up in January 1900 when the American decided to stay in the island and Filipino bias presses one by one closed down.
When the Americans were slowly gaining control over the island several so-called Fil-American War newspapers then cropped up. Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, in his effort to unify his armies, put up his own revolutionary organ called “El Heraldo de la Revolucion” on September 28, 1898. Likewise, with the arrival of more American fleets on August 13, 1898, American editors aboard Admiral Dewey’s flagship came up with the paper, Bounding Billow. Succeeding the Billow, newspapers such as American Soldier, Freedom, and The American also came to existence.
After the Spaniards’ defeat from the Americans, English newspapers started to circulate. It was lead by the Manila Times of Thomas Gowan which was established on October 11, 1898. The paper was a response to the complaints of American soldiers with the lack of a good English newspaper at that time. It encountered various changes in ownership including then President Manuel L. Quezon who bought it in 1917 and sold it after four years of possession. Two other foreign owners had the Manila Times before Alejandro Roces, Sr. acquired it in 1927. Roces already running the TVT (Taliba-La Vanguardia-Tribune) chain at that time then realized the unnecessary owning of another English paper and so he closed it down in 1930. Also sometime in 1927 the son of Alejandro Roces, Sr., Ramon Roces put up a magazine known as Graphic. TVT then was considered the first newspaper chain in the Philippines. Its founding was one of the highlight events during the 1920s and had bestowed on Roces the titled “father of modern journalism.” Manila Tribune was established by Roces on April 1, 1925, with Carlos P. Romulo as editor.
Another American newspaper issued that time was the “oldest existing newspaper”, The Manila Daily Bulletin, established by Carson Taylor in February 1, 1900. The paper started out as a shipping journal and later widened its scope in 1912.
With the invasion of the Japanese most publications were shut down except for the ones theyused for their propaganda. DMHM was the first destroyed when Manila was bombed. It was only TVT which was left to operate however it was controlled and functioned as “solely for the benefit of the Japanese state” on October 12, 1942. The chain together with Ramon Roces’ Liwayway was allowed to be published regularly but under censorship of the Japanese Imperial Army. The printing and distribution of the periodicals were transferred under Osaka Mainichi Publishing Company, established by Manila Sinbusya Corporation. The only papers that existed those times were that of TVT, Liwayway, Manila Shimbun, Shin-Seiki, Bicol Herald and Davao Nichi-Nichi, all under the control of the corporation. With the side of the guerrillas they also came up with their own periodicals. These were typewritten or mimeographed paraphernalias on 8 ½ x 11-inch paper edited by journalists-guerillas. The publication served to empower the soldiers’ and people’s morale and aid as counter propaganda against the Japanese.
After the atrocities of the Japanese and World War II in general, Manila was freed on February 3, 1945. At that time came a rapid proliferation of publications with most of them simply printed like flyers or in single-sheets. Manila Free Philippines became the first post-Liberation newspaper published by the US Office of War Information. The paper circulated from February – September 1945.
After more than three decades of free press, on September 21, 1972 upon the declaration of Martial Law, publications were once again halted from their liberal operations. Then Pres. Ferdinand Marcos issued Letter of Instruction (LOI) No. I which contained the ordinance, “to take over and control or cause the taking over and control of the mass media for the duration of the national emergency, or until otherwise ordered by the President or by his duly designated representative.” Almost similar to the press’ situation during the Japanese Occupation, publications were put under government supervision. Media entities were sequestered or closed down restraining their operation unless approved.
The triumph of the people in the 1986 EDSA Revolution re-opened the doors of a vibrant and dynamic media. Freedom of the press was redeemed.
Through the various phases of our history, the print media has contributed substantially to our emancipation from being colonial subordinates. It has guided us in discerning the deceptions of dictatorship. It records daily our defeats and victories as a people. The print media continues to be an agent of change in the continuing socio-political transformation of our nation.
Today, Print media is scandalized by the digitalization of design that would irrevocably affect it. As computers took over more of the modern workload and graphic design began to shift into the computer world in the 1960’s, great changes were set in motion. Type design’s evolution would continue, no longer being hand cut or mechanically cast, but instead digitized character by character as either a bitmap or outline (vector) computer file. Companies like General Electric realized early on that computer graphics would give them an edge in advertising, and subsequently IBM released the first commercially available graphics computer, starting a cycle that would keep designers and computer manufacturers interlocked as both grew and began to expand. As new software and computers were released, more businesses started converting to digital advertising, and designers began taking advantage of the new products to do their jobs.
Although digital design and the computer age have been blamed for negatively affecting print media, in some ways it has only made the print world stronger. Print houses for magazines and newspapers would be unable to publish relevant stories and photos fast enough without the advances in software that allow designers to complete their jobs and meet publication deadlines. Computer software has even made print media more accessible to small business owners and companies than ever before. Even with the advent of the world-wide web and online blogs and news sites, the printed word has not lost its power. Ad campaigns assail us from our mailboxes, from store-front windows and are handed to us by salesmen. We perhaps take for granted the hundreds of years of development that led to our perfectly leaded and kerned newspaper headlines and the bright color photos blazoned underneath. Print media has evolved continuously over its long history, and hasn’t stopped yet.
Importance of the Print Medium
Print media is classified as anything that is in print and is also used to inform the public. The most prominent forms of print media are newspapers, books, magazines, direct mail, and yellow pages. Outdoor advertising like billboards and transit posters are different types of print media but are very effective in conveying the advertisement across. What one sees and reads has a big influence on what he or she says, how one says it, and his or her action. The influence print media has on people and communities have contributed to the change in popular American culture today.
Print media is placed to catch everyones attention, it is everywhere one may look. People will find some form of print media strategically placed to catch onlooker’s attention. Print media has been extending the knowledge of the news or chronicles across the nation by keeping the public up- to- date on information pertaining to one’s life, services, products, and the environment. Several trends that have propagated by the print media are food, fashion, and weigh loss programs. People are focused more on these trends today than ever before. Print media has made it more accessible for people to obtain whatever information he or she needs to keep up with these particular trends.
It’s hard to believe that print media is still a worthwhile endeavor. Between PPC ads, corporate blogs and social media strategies, it may be easy to think that online marketing alone is sufficient to grow a business. As effective as online marketing campaigns can be, no business should dismiss print media as part of their overall marketing strategy. With the internet marketing on the rise and the world turning digital, folks somehow weaken the significance of the print media advertising. There isn’t any rejecting the plain fact the more recent generation is more inclined to the PC and hand held internet devices but still the print media hasn’t lost its glory and possibly won’t so long as the baby boom generation exists. The fact is that regardless of how sophisticated and convenient the electronic media gets, the significance of the print media will never die.
The important advent of Television in the advertising market did impact it could not replace the print advertising or perhaps reduce its impact. Though the PC and internet based advertising has its blessings of instant conversion and sales over the other electronic media but the lasting impact of the print maintains its position and standing in the advertising market. The actual reason behind this fast is that the mags are picked up by those having an interest in that actual niche and direct advertisements to the niche readers has more possibilities of sale in comparison to the random surfers hitting a page.
In the event of advertising in paper the benefit of circulation is already there. Folk enthusiastic about purchasing will instantly turn to the classified section. Alternatively, the internet based advertisements do have an exceedingly enormous circulation worldwide which mostly is worthless. Probabilities of an advertisement reaching the proper group of folks at the right spot have a really low chance.
In the event of a local event or a sales statement at the local level there’s little that can beat the paper ad. This can get picked up by pretty much every home in the area and environment of the event. Even state events are effectively covered by the print advertising in a much better way in comparison to the internet or any other electronic media.
The evidence of this fact is that even after such a giant in-flow of the internet, fashion, sports and other illustrated mags primarily based on advertising haven’t lost their market. The impact of the print advertising is without any doubt most efficient and viral compared to any other
marketing media. No major marketing campaign can ever be finished without the incorporation of glossy advertisements in a wide circulation newspaper or a mag. Those marketers who contest this fact and give unwarranted preference to other Medias finally turn back to this kind of advertising at some point soon.
Print media is still an important piece of the marketing puzzle. Here is why:
•Print is Portable – Even with laptops and smart phones, print media still retains the ultimate portability. It’s available everywhere and to everyone, whether there’s service or power.
•Print is Preferred – Many consumers still prefer traditional print material, such as magazines and newspapers, over electronic versions.
•Print is Visible – While it’s true that sending and sharing electronic media is easier and faster, printed publications are often more visible to the average consumer. No specific keyword, special account or access is required.
•Print is Long-lasting– Unlike a window that may be closed, an ad that may be missed or an e-mail that gets deleted, print media doesn’t go anywhere and can last practically forever.
•Print is Professional – There is a credibility that is achieved in print that is harder to replicate online. A published article or business magazine carries far more weight than a PDF version found online.
•Print is Advertising – While there are many different advertising channels, print media is still widely used in advertising. Brochures, flyers, pamphlets, catalogs, and posters are just a few examples. Most importantly, they exist in places where electronic media cannot.
Current Problems in the Media
The burgeoning problems with the media have been documented in great detail by researchers, academicians and journalists themselves:
High levels of inaccuracies
• Public confidence in the media, already low, continues to slip. A poll by USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup found only 36 percent of Americans believe news organizations get the facts straight, compared with 54 percent in mid-1989.
• According to an in-depth study by the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1999, 23 percent of the public find factual errors in the news stories of their daily paper at least once a week while more than a third of the public – 35 percent – see spelling or grammar mistakes in their newspaper more than once a week. The study also found that 73 percent of adults in America have become more skeptical about the accuracy of their news.
• The level of inaccuracy noticed is even higher when the public has first-hand knowledge of a news story. Almost 50 percent of the public reports having had first-hand knowledge of a news event at some time even though they were not personally part of the story. Of that group, only 51 percent said the facts in the story were reported accurately, with the remainder finding errors ranging from misinterpretations to actual errors.
• When reporters and editors interviewed in the ASNE study were asked why they thought mistakes were being made, 34 percent said the “rush to deadline” was the major factor, one third said it was a combination of being “overworked” and “understaffed,” and the remaining third said it was “inattention, carelessness, inexperience, poor knowledge” and just-plain-bad editing and reporting.
• The Columbia Journalism Review and the nonprofit, nonpartisan research firm Public Agenda polled 125 senior journalists nationwide in 1999 on various questions. When asked: “Have you ever seriously suspected a colleague of manufacturing a quote or an incident?” a disturbingly high 38 percent answered yes.
There is tendency for the press to play up and dwell on stories that are sensational – murders, car crashes, kidnappings, sex scandals and the like.
• In a study by the American Society of Newspaper Editors, eighty percent of the American public said they believe “journalists chase sensational stories because they think it will sell papers, not because they think it is important news. ” Another 85 percent of the public believes that “newspapers frequently over-dramatize some news stories just to sell more papers.” Over 80 percent believe sensational stories receive lots of news coverage simply because they are exciting, not because they are important.
• 78 percent of the public thinks journalists enjoy reporting on the personal failings of private officials.
• 48 percent of the public sees misleading headlines in their paper more than once a week. Mistakes regularly left uncorrected
A 1999 poll by the Columbia Journalism Review and the nonprofit research firm Public Agenda of 125 senior journalists nationwide found:
• Fully 70 percent of the respondents felt that most news organizations do a “poor” (20 percent) or “fair” (50 percent) job of informing the public about errors in their reporting. Barely a quarter called it “good.” A paltry 2 percent awarded a rating of “excellent.”
• A remarkable 91 percent think newsrooms need more open and candid internal discussion of editorial mistakes and what to do about them.
• Almost four in ten of those people interviewed feel sure many factual errors are never corrected because reporters and editors are eager to hide their mistakes.
• More than half think most news organizations lack proper internal guidelines for making corrections.
• A majority (52 percent) thinks the media needs to give corrections more prominent display.
• Over 40 percent said their news organization does not even have a person designated to review and assess requests for corrections.
Poor coverage of important issues
While the media is busy covering sensationalist stories, issues that affect our lives and the whole world receive little attention.
• A study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs found the number of stories about the environment on the network news went from 377 in 1990 and 220 in 1991 to only 106 in 1998 and 131 in 1999. At the same time, the number of stories about entertainment soared from 134 in 1990 and 95 in 1991, to 221 stories in 1998, and 172 in 1999. Though polls repeatedly show Americans overwhelmingly (higher than 80 percent) want improvements in the environment, Dan Fagin, President of the independent Society of Environmental Journalists, said in 2003 “Whether the subject is global climate change or local sprawl, aging power plants or newborn salmon, debate over environmental issues has never been … so obfuscated by misleading claims. Meanwhile, getting environmental stories into print, or on the air, has never been more difficult.”
• “The Project for Excellence in Journalism, reporting on the front pages of the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, on the ABC, CBS, and NBC Nightly news programs, and on Time and Newsweek, showed that from 1977 to 1997, the number of stories about government dropped from one in three to one in five, while the number of stories about celebrities rose from one in every 50 stories to one in every 14. What difference does it make? Well, it’s government that can pick our pockets, slap us into jail, run a highway through our backyard or send us to war. Knowing what government does is “the news we need to keep our freedoms.” – Bill Moyers
• The reporting on national affairs by the major newsmagazines has declined by 25 percent, while the number of entertainment and celebrity stories has doubled, according to “The State of the News Media in 2004” report by the non-partisan Project for Excellence in Journalism. Foreign Aid and 24,000 Easily Preventable Deaths a Day
• At the Rio Earth Summit the world’s industrialized nations agreed to fix international aid at 0.7 percent of GDP. The only countries to reach that target have been the Scandinavian countries. The US ranks at the very bottom with a pathetic 0.14 percent. A sizeable amount of our aid is political in nature and does not go toward benefiting people in need. Even when private donations are included in the mix, our country still ranks at the bottom in total giving per capita. According to the World Health Organization about 28,000 people who die every day around the world could be saved easily with basic care. In all, last year 8.8 million lives were lost needlessly (approximately the combined number of people living in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine) due to preventable diseases, infections and child birth complications.
When Americans are asked what percentage of the GDP for international aid would be reasonable, the answers range from 1 percent to 5 percent. Similarly, when asked what percentage of the federal budget should go to foreign aid, Americans on average said 14 percent, and that in fact, they thought 20 percent was currently being allocated. The actual amount of our budget allocated is 1 percent. Yet the press rarely reports on any of the above – that we give so little, that we are avoiding what we agreed to, that Americans think giving at a higher level would be reasonable, that we think we are giving far more than we are, and that a huge number of deaths every day (eight times the number that died in the 9-11 attacks), are a direct result of not receiving basic care. When the press does report on foreign aid, the media often perpetuates the myth that we give substantially and in proportion to our means.
• Large numbers of Americans give low ratings to the media for school coverage. For example, in a joint survey by the Education Writers Association and the Public Agenda, 44 percent gave “print media with a national readership” ratings of fair to poor, while only 4 percent gave a rating of excellent. About 84 percent gave “broadcast media with a national audience” ratings of fair to poor and only 1 percent gave a rating of excellent. Educators and journalists agreed. Over 44 percent of journalists rated “print media with a national readership” as fair to poor in their coverage and 84 percent rated “broadcast media with a national audience” the same. Nonprofit media organizations rate far higher on educating the public than for-profit entities A seven-month series of polls by the Center for Policy Attitudes and Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland found that Americans receiving their news from nonprofit organizations were far more likely to have accurate perceptions related to American foreign policy than those receiving their information from for-profit entities.
The study also found the variations could not be explained as a result of differences in the demographic characteristics of each audience, because the variations were also found when comparing the demographic subgroups of each audience. For example, in three areas of information related to Iraq (whether weapons of mass destruction had been found, if clear evidence had been found linking Iraq and al-Qaeda and if worldwide public opinion supported the war in Iraq), only 23 percent of those who received their information from PBS and NPR had an inaccurate perception, while 55 percent of those who received their information from CNN or NBC had an inaccurate perception, 61 percent for ABC, 71 percent for CBS and 80 percent for Fox.
Similarly, on the specific question of whether the majority of the people in the world favored the U.S. having gone to war, 63 percent of those who received their information from CBS misperceived, 58 percent who received their information from ABC misperceived and only 26 percent of those who received their information from PBS and NPR misperceived. Those receiving information from the other networks fell into a similar pattern as demonstrated in the example above: Fox at 69 percent, NBC at 56 percent and CNN at 54 percent – all with rates of misperception twice as high as the nonprofit media organizations. When the percentages of people misperceiving in each area were averaged, it was found that these receiving information from for-profit broadcast media outlets were nearly three times as likely to misperceive as those receiving from the nonprofit media organizations. Those receiving their information from Fox News showed the highest average rate of misperceptions — 45 percent — while those receiving their information from PBS and NPR showed the lowest – 11 percent. CBS showed at 36 percent, CNN at 31 percent, ABC at 30 percent, and NBC at 30 percent.
The study found similar patterns also existed within demographic groups, and that differences in demographics could not explain the variations in levels of misperception. For example, the average rate for all Republicans for the three key misperceptions was 43 percent. Yet for Republicans who took their news from PBS and NPR, the average rate was only 32 percent – a full one quarter less. This same pattern occurred in polled Democrats and Independents.
Similarly, among those with bachelor’s degrees or higher, the average rate of misperceptions was 27 percent. However among those who had their news from PBS-NPR the average rate was 10 percent. This pattern was observed at other educational levels as well. The media’s short attention span
• Anthony Downs of the Brookings Institution in the 1970’s began observing what he called “the issue attention cycle” in the American media. The cycle is: the news media and public ignore a serious problem for years; for some reason, they suddenly notice, declare it a crisis and concoct a solution; next they realize the problem will not be easily fixed and will be costly; they grow angry, then bored; finally, they resume ignoring the problem.
• Here is an example from research done by Laura Haniford of the University of Michigan. Haniford focused on the news media’s coverage of the racial achievement gap — the difference between how whites and blacks score on standardized tests. She found that from 1984 to 1995, The Ann Arbor News published 11 articles on the achievement gap in local schools; then suddenly, in 1997, 92 achievement-gap articles appeared; then, gap coverage virtually disappeared again, plummeting to two articles in 2001. What amazed her was that during that entire period the achievement gap remained substantial and virtually unchanged.
The media does not cover itself
• Of the roughly 1,500 daily newspapers in the U.S., “Only a handful—at most a dozen, including The [Washington] Post—actually have a reporter who covers the press full-time as a beat. What critical reporting exists, though at times is refreshingly good, it is for the most part timid and superficial. About 15 papers have an ombudsman on staff to respond to readers’ complaints. When it comes to looking at itself, society’s watchdog is a lamb,” according to Sydney Schanberg, one of the most respected journalists of this era, he has been a reporter for The New York Times for more than twenty-five years, and recipient of many awards, including a Pulitzer Prize.
• Schanberg adds: It’s no secret that journalism in America has become more slipshod and reckless, at times promiscuous…. Every journalist surely also knows that the old-time standards…have been weakened if not discarded. Most of us in the business, however, stand by as mere observers…. If this were happening in any other profession or power center in American life, the media would be all over the story, holding the offending institution up to a probing light. When law firms breach ethical canons, Wall Street brokerages cheat clients or managed-care companies deny crucial care to patients, we journalists consider it news and frequently put it on the front page. But when our own profession is the offender, we go soft. By failing to cover ourselves, we have made ourselves complacent, virtually assured that because we are not likely to be scrutinized by our peers, we are safe in our careless or abusive practices.”
• Renee Ferguson of WMAQ in Chicago said the unwillingness on the part of the media to monitor itself is amongst the reasons behind an increasing problem of plagiarism among print and broadcast reporters. “I suspect we all know examples at own our stations and papers where things like the Blair incident have happened,” Ferguson said. “Are we prepared to investigate ourselves?” Focus on huge profit margins, not serving public
• Geneva Overholser (former Editor of The Des Moines Register and board member of the Pulitzer Prize Board and American Society of Newspaper Editors) describing in 1990 a list of factors rapidly eroding the quality of reporting, said, “There is the fact that newspaper corporations typically retain truly remarkable profit margins: 30 percent is not unusual and the metro average has been somewhere around 17 percent. That’s 17 cents on every dollar made as profit for the company, yet the average beginning salary for a newspaper reporter last year was $17,000.”
• Current data supports Overholser’s assertions. In October, 2003, for example, Gannett Co. Inc., one of the nation’s largest newspaper chains, reported for the first nine months of 2003 profits of $853.2 million on revenues of $4.89 billion, a profit margin of 17.4 percent. In the same month, the E.W. Scripps Co., owner of another chain of daily newspapers, reported quarterly profits of $60.9 million for the company’s newspapers on revenues of $164 million, a profit margin of 37 percent.
• “Citizens are asking journalists and media critics why the media don’t ‘do something’ to discover and publish ‘the truth.’ …. As a loyal American, trained as a journalist some 45 years ago, I am convinced that journalists in the U.S. feel increasingly trapped between their professional values and the marketing/profits mentality so evident now everywhere in the news industry. The old professional values urge them to dig, investigate and bring to the light of day the relevant facts and issues, while the market/profit mentality asks, ‘Is it worth it? Do enough people care?’ It seems clear enough that the market/profit mentality has won out, especially in electronic news, and to a considerable extent in the print media. … Meanwhile, the push for corporate profit margins much higher than those of average American businesses goes on — with 40 to 100 percent in the electronic media and 12 to 45 percent in the print media common during 2003.” – Margaret T. Gordon, a professor of news media and public policy at the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington and
formerly the dean of the school, in a Seattle Times column August 08, 2003.
• The American public agrees with Overholser and Gordon. In an in-depth by the American Society of Newspaper Editors, 59 percent of Americans said newspapers are concerned mainly with making profits rather than serving the public interest. Media outlets are investing less in the quality of what they do According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism, there are 2,700 fewer reporters employed by newspapers in 2003 than there were in 1990. The number of jobs lost is believed to have continued falling in 2004. According to washingtonspectator.com and speeches made by Bill Moyers, full-time employees of radio stations decreased by 44 percent during the period from 1994 – 2000. Moyers also stated that since the 1980s, broadcast network correspondents’ numbers are down by one-third, and TV networks now have half the previous number of reporters in their foreign bureaus. The Project for Excellence in Journalism said Internet news also experienced cutbacks:
•“In the area with the greatest potential, they are cutting personnel the most: Our data suggest that news organizations have imposed more cutbacks in their Internet operations than in their old media, and where the investment has come is in technology for processing information, not people to gather it.”
• “Some 62 percent of Web professionals say their newsrooms have seen cutbacks in the last three years – despite huge increases in audiences online. That number is far bigger than the 37 percent of national print, radio and TV journalists who cited cutbacks in their newsrooms. Anecdotally, Web journalists say what investment there is tends to be in technology for processing information, not in journalists to gather news.” The public is misinformed and uninformed
A few heavily studied examples:
• A Knight Ridder/Princeton Research poll of Americans showed 44 percent of respondents believed “most” or “some” of the 9-11 hijackers were Iraqis. Only 17 percent gave the correct answer: none. A New York Times/CBS News Poll revealed that 45 percent of respondents believed Saddam Hussein was directly involved in the 9/11 attacks.
• A Pew Research Center/Council on Foreign Relations survey around the same time showed that almost two-thirds of people polled believed U. N. weapons inspectors had “found proof that Iraq is trying to hide weapons of mass destruction.” A report of such proof was never made by Hans Blix or any U.N. inspector, nor was it made by Mohammed El Baradei or any other official of the International Nuclear Regulatory Agency. The same survey found 57 percent of those polled incorrectly believed Saddam Hussein assisted the 9/11 terrorists.
• Despite wide knowledge of the above polls and others similar to them, the media did little to correct the misperceptions and in fact, may have continued feeding them. A poll conducted months later by the Washington Post on September 6, 2003 found that 69 percent of Americans thought Hussein was linked to 9/11.
Who We Elect
• A major study by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government found the level of people’s knowledge about candidates’ positions rose and fell based on the degree to which the media was focusing on important issues. Moving from a spate of media coverage of gaffes by Bush and Gore in the 2000 race to a period of focusing on the issues, for example, there was a 20 percent increase in people’s ability to identify correctly the two candidates’ positions. “Once again, public awareness increases when the focus is on the issues,” said Marvin Kalb, the Executive Director of the Shorenstein Center’s Washington Office and co-director of the Vanishing Voter Project. • Still, only a few weeks before the election, when voters were read a major issue position attributed to a candidate and then asked whether it was the candidate’s actual position, on average, of those polled 47 percent said they “didn’t know,” while 34 percent identified the position accurately and 19 percent misidentified it.
In all, almost 50 percent of registered voters were able to recognize none or only one of the twelve candidate positions. Only 10 percent knew more than half of the policy positions about which they were asked. • “It’s pretty clear that millions of Americans will go to the polls on Election Day armed with only scant knowledge of the issues, Some of them might be a bit surprised next year when the new President pursues policies quite different from those they thought he would.” – Thomas Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and director of the Shorenstein Center surveys Media consolidation
In 1945, four out of five American newspapers were independently owned and published by people with close ties to their communities. Those days are gone however. Today less than 20 percent of the country’s 1483 papers are independently owned; the rest belong to multi-newspaper chains. • “Of the nation’s 1,500 daily papers, nearly 1,200 — about 80 percent — are owned by the big chains, which concentrate on reaping large profits and are not much given to public self-examination on ethics and quality issues. …. The gut decision that journalists have to make is whether they want to be regarded as professionals with honor or merely as pickup teams of scribblers and windbags.” – Sydney Schanberg
• “It is not apparent to many news consumers, but 22 companies now control 70 percent of the country’s newspaper circulation and 10 companies own the broadcast stations that reach 85 percent of the United States. Since 1975, two-thirds of independent newspaper owners and one-third of independent television owners have disappeared. Only 281 of the nation’s 1,500 daily newspapers remain independently owned. The three largest newspaper publishers control 25 percent of daily newspaper circulation worldwide.” – Freepress.net
• “Five companies now own the broadcast networks, 90 percent of the top 50 cablenetworks produce three-quarters of all prime time programming, and control 70 percent of the prime time television market share. The same companies that own the nation’s most popular newspapers and networks also own over 85 percent of the top 20 Internet news sites. While the Internet has become a valuable new source of information, the vast majority of Americans continue to rely on television, newspaper, and radio as their primary sources of news information. Two-thirds of America’s independent newspapers have been lost since 1975 and according to the Department of Justice’s Merger Guidelines every local newspaper market in the U.S. is highly concentrated.
One-third of America’s independent TV stations have vanished since 1975 and there has been a 34 percent decline in the number of radio station owners since the Telecommunications Act of 1996.” – According to bill H.R. 4069 introduced to the House of Representatives March 30, 2004 • “Sure enough, as merger has followed merger, journalism has been driven further down the hierarchy of values in the huge conglomerates that dominate what we see, read and hear. And to feed the profit margins – journalism has been directed to other priorities than “the news we need to know to keep our freedoms.” – Bill Moyers
Journalists agree that major problems exist.
The study by the American Society of Newspaper Editors found these startling facts: • Only 47 percent of journalists surveyed felt their publications were improving. • Only 39 percent felt their newspapers were usually very interesting to read. • A remarkably low 21 percent felt their newspapers were connecting very well with readers.
The Challenges Philippine Print Media
There are issues and concerns confronting the print media industry. Here are some… Print copy revenues dwindled. Market values of newspaper firms dropped as well. The print classified advertising bonanza is gone. Lots of internet advertising platforms have been irreversibly snatching the revenues. Take for instance Sulit.com.ph. It’s a website for FREE classified ads. It has 450,000 daily unique visitors, indicating it has already owned a niche. There’s another one… Ayos Dito.ph, a Sulit competitor.
The improving Philippine economy enables more Filipinos to buy home computers. The next step… the Internet. The effect… more headache for the newspapers. Coincidentally…
In advanced countries with strong internet markets like the US and UK, newspapers are dying. The Philippine situation is in stark resemblance. Internet inroads in Internet cafes are going very fast.
More Pinoys shun from newspapers, much less buy. More Filipinos own cellphones from which they obtain mobile news. Pinoys read the headlines in sidewalk newsstands but they don’t buy.
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