Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Who Drives The Media Agenda?

It has been hard to miss the fact that over the past couple of weeks, there has been an inordinate number of stories in the northern media regarding the war in Afghanistan.

I suppose it's no coincidence then that the British Army appear to have funded some sort of media soiree to said Asian country at the very same time.

This raises questions about what we are being fed by the media. Is it right that mainstream outlets should allow their output to be dictated to such an extent by the findings of a taxpayer-funded jolly? Aside from the odd special focusing on life for British soldiers abroad which could results from such a trip, is there any particular reason for the mainstream media putting Afghanistan so far up their agenda at the same time as they happen to be enjoying British Army hospitality there?

Surely news is news, and the fact that a media outlet has been invited to a foreign location shouldn't have any effect on hierarchy of importance placed on new stories.

This creates a worrying precedent if news outlets feel under pressure to justify the tens-of-thousands of pounds that are obviously spent on taking them to places such as Afghanistan, and it also raises the issue over whether it's right that those who can afford to indulge the media in such junkets get so much coverage in return.

Freedom of the press is fundamental to democracy, but assuming that these trips abroad were funded by the British Army, I find it worrying that taxpayers' money is being used to such an extraordinary extent to try to create good news stories about this war in the media.

3 comments:

Michael Shilliday said...

"Aside from the odd special focusing on life for British soldiers abroad which could results from such a trip, is there any particular reason for the mainstream media putting Afghanistan so far up their agenda at the same time as they happen to be enjoying British Army hospitality there?"

Well, it costs a fortune to do that, so the media wouldn't do it otherwise. When the British soldiers they're covering are Northern Irish it does seem logical that there is a public interest in the media being facilitated to report on their work.

Anonymous said...

Fair point Michael - but why the sudden emphasis on soldiers from Ireland (some are from the south too! )in Afghanistan? I wonder which newspapers etc have availed of a freebie and have they upped their content on this part of the world in response?

d@\/ e said...

I used to be involved in the music bizz here in N.I.I dj'ed and played in bands around pubs and clubs all over the country.I also like lots of other musicians from all sides of the divide played in Army camps. In the Army camps the pay would at least be double compared to other venues.I take it that the British Army have the funds allocated to cover news stories like Afghanistan.I think the funds may be used better by supplying better equipment, weapons and uniforms to the Army and also by supplying more food to the soldiers.The money the Army wasted on entertainment here in N.I. during the troubles was scandalous which I'm sure ended up in the pockets of entertainment agents...
I'll not go on in case I get into trouble