“Moving the worlds news”

from The international television news agencies, Chris Paterson


  • News agencies: “the impression of omnipresence” Fenby (1986, 171)
  • first tier of television news: “wholesalers” 

of visuals, sounds and textual information. e.g. Associated Press Television News (APTN)

  • second tier: “packagers”

distributors of news constructed from the “raw” material of the first tier.

  • third tier: “retailers” 

the television networks of every country and their surrogate newsfeed operations providing news to affiliates.

  • Growth in both volume and importance of wholesale international television news is both a product of, and a contributor to, larger trends in global television.

deregulation and privatization of television: (a) reversed a long trend of expansion and investment in international newsgathering (b) led to the creation of new commercial channels requiring, at minimal cost, large amounts of content for their news programs.

growth of 24-hour news channels “3rd phase” (Cushion, 2010) rapid expansion at a mostly regional level during the past decade. (access made easier)

  • Television news agency dependance grew with cutbacks by major broadcast networks around the world. Downsizing of TV news divisions- had to provide the illusion they were still covering the world when they weren’t.
  • Negative for agencies- 1993: ITN began using the internation footage from shareholder; Reuters. They were supplying international news to every major British TV newscast (BBC, ITN, and Sky) giving every viewer the same window on the world.
  • 24-hour channels: “largely routine, predictable, institutionally derived and often wholesaler sourced” (Bromley, 2010)
  • Global reach: “There’s no reason that all three networks need to have people sitting around in Zimbabwe.” (Thornton Bradshaw, chairman of RCA)
  • ((opinion)) believed network news divisions were paying people to sit around and wait for news to happen in every small country.
  • 1995: increasing number of broadcasters were depending exclusively on news agency video for their images (Claypole, 1995)
  • New broadcasters erupted from the deregulation and privatization of the European broadcasting landscape, which was instigated by the neoliberal and commercial agendas emanting from Washington and London in the 1980s, and effectively embraced by the European Union and European Commission.
  • Satellites are no longer essential and no longer the conduct of globalization: role s agent of of globalisation has substantially diminished due to the internet.
  • Bulk of news agency video started being transmitted by file transfer protocol (FTP) via the internet or the news agencies own fixed data links: less costly and more capacious undersea cable has taken in at least as important a role.
  • Strict copyright rules are observed to ensure that no station broadcasts-and no agency distributes-news video that it hasn’t paid for or produced itself.
  • “The goal of gaining the greatest possible exclusivity of news images for the lowest possible cost” (Waite, 1992)
  • Clients pay the agencies from tens of thousands of dollars to many millions of dollars yearly, depending on variety of factors: size of stations audience, number and type of news feeds received and volume of news video from it’s home area that the client provides to the agency.
  • 1988: Rupert Murdoch began building Sky News channels

Spoke to ITN about providing most of journalism and news pictures (anything done away from the studio)

Price too high, agreed with Visnews to do for £30 million

mid 1990s: Reuters TV increased to £10 million yearly. Deal involved international news feeds, provision of crews and facilities to cover international stories and the establishment of Sky News bureaus around the U.K Links with Sky were part of what made Visnews valuable enough to Reuters to buy out the co-owners of Visnews in 1992 and significant in progressively sourcing the Visnews relationship with its founder, the BBC.

  • TV news agencies sell smaller, customized services to broadcasters (media companies from newspaper websites to mobile phone news providers)
  • Priced by agencies according to the size of that company’s audience, cost of producing the service and a fair measure of what the agency thinks it can get away with asking.
  • wanting a steady supply of images of comings and goings of celebrities.
  • Subscription rates have not increased significantly since 2000 (Venter, 2005; and interviews) but the number of clients has (due to mostly internet news and to the increase in rolling news channels)
  • News agencies do slightly better than break even; sources report off the record that they return a small profit from their owners.
  • Reuters and AP: the needs for the video service often now takes precedence over text and photos on major stories: video has taken its place at the table in two organisations founded on the written word.
  • TV news agencies owned by and mostly catered to European and American media.
  • Baker, 2004: in 2000 just under 52% of APTN revenue came from European clients, 20% from Asian and about 16% from North America.
  • Only through the support of few powerful advocated within U.S and British broadcasters that the TV agencies have survived the hard times.
  • ^ same few people have a substantial influence over their development, include BBC.
  • ^ without the massive investment in TV news authorised by Associated Press President Lou Boccardi in 1990s.
  • Broadcasters feel an obligation to provide news from outside their own loyalty or national border but are rarely willing- extensive and costly resources to discover and gather such news, so leave task to the few, and largely unknown, public and commercial TV news wholesalers.
  • 1995 survey of broadcasters from around the world, as part of the global news flow study that year repeating the famous UNESCO-funded study of 1979 (Sreberny-Mohammadi et al, 1984)

the same pictures, used in the same way around the world. The recent trends in European television news suggest further homogenization of international news, despite the increase in news channels.

  • 1980s: Scholars were noting that “TV news and newsreels are largely based on film material from the US and Great Britain where the UPI, ITN and VIS news have virtually established a worldwide monopoly
  • “video captured by AP television news can be seen by over half the world’s population on any given day.” APTN.com ‘company overview’
  • Reuters and APTN and their predecessors market themselves to broadcasters, but almost never to the public at large- omnipresent and (substantially) invisible.
  • For larger broadcasters ^ are a tool- essential component in news coverage BUT the broadcasters would go on without them.
  • Smaller, larger but lean and new satellite broadcasters- they simply would be no substance at all without them. (visually)
  • Without foreign input: more local, and more relevant to viewers and be different to what other media channels around the world are broadcasting.
  • Straubhaar, 2007: demonstrated the importance of cultural relevance in the popularity of non-English-language television fiction, causing it to succeed even where global trends said it should fail.
  • Imagine that the millions spent on tv stations on news agency subscriptions were spent on scores for eager young reporters to “pound the pavement” and dig out storied, nationally and internationally, that nobody else is doing.
  • Common moving images: give us a common referenced on international affairs, that challenge us to act and identity the threats and opportunities we and our respective governments should be worrying about?
  • “The global extension of the institutions of modernity would be impossible were it not for the pooling of knowledge which represented by the ‘news'” (1991, 77-78; in Archetti, 2008)
  • “International news increases the awareness and interconnectedness of social and political information and actors across the borders.”
  • Hjarvard, 2001: the limited attention paid thus far to the source images of tv news.
  • Clausen, 2004,27: “The distribution of news through international news agencies enable the global diffusion of information about events, whilst enhancing the interpenetration of universal…concepts and policies”
  • Global video news viewers (TV, computer or mobile) seeing the same limited set of a sphere in which we abandon our private selves to be exposed to a collective set of ideas.
  • Corporate-dominated and unidirectional nature of the process reaffirms Habermas’s concern for the loss of such a sphere.
  • TV is a device cleverly engineered by the marketers who would come to dominate it as a one-way system
  • “The broadcaster has served as support for the reproduction of a dominant ideological discursive field” (1998, 88)
  • Global impact of the TV news agencies is dependent upon the influence upon audiences of the portions of TV newscasts to which the agencies contribute.
  • Global recycling: images by way of television news agencies and exchanges.
  • TV stations around the world collectively have far more photographers chasing stories than the two global news agencies could muster and are normally closer to breaking news.
  • “You don’t get any unique insight from watching their coverage of the Middle East. All you see is our pictures with a different commentary” – Steward Purvis, ITN’s Chief Exec told Harrison and Palmer (1986,76)
  • “Reuters and AP become more of a clearing and ideological shaping house than a production house” Jirik
  • New global and regional channels have surely brought a more relevant and sympathetic worldview to audiences who previously might have had to experience comprehensive international television news coverage through the narrow and tainted lens of an Anglo-American commercial network or a propagandistic state channel.
  • TV news agencies act as global public sphere “visual flow regulators” that both regulate and mitigate counter-hegemonic TV news flows.
  • Many new broadcasters- especially rolling news channels, could not exist without the image flow from the TV news agencies. e.g. the perception of most nations as insignificant (because most nations get little or no news agency coverage)
  • Regulate in a sense that important, influential images of international events rarely exist independently of them: for those images to become meaningful beyond the home territory of the broadcaster who captured them.
  • Gatekeepers decisions: the degree to which as gatekeeper identifies with the story source, the degree and nature of consideration of audience, various economic, institutional and technological considerations and potentially; ethnocentric and nationalistic influences.
  • Van Ginneken (1998,44) suggested that news agencies have consistently prioritized 3 categories of clients while ignoring others.

business world

the media of developed countries

government of developed countries

  • TV landscape: command most respect and fast action from the TV news agencies.
  • desire for (preferably live) photographs – in combination with lower video transmission costs and new internet and mobile clients- gives a new lease of life to organisations that should be showing signs of wear.
  • the coming of the internet threatened to make redundant their [ tv news agencies] proficiency at global news acquisitions and delivery; the dot com bust, which devastated a fast-growing online news industry; the press for profit from owners.
  • 1990s: increased and more equitable news flow caused by new news providers and the application of new newsgathering and distribution technologies.
  • TV news agencies are a “missing link” in the globalization puzzle- a neglected but crucial agent of globalization.




Week 11: Mobile Journalism

Mobile-cellular penetration rates stand at 96% globally; 121% in developed countries; and 90% in developing countries.

Mobile-broadband subscriptions have climbed from 286 million in 2007 to 2.3 billion by the end of 2014

  • This reflects an average annual growth rate of 40%, making mobile broadband the most dynamic ICT market.

Source: UN’s Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D))

Mobile news consumption:

Reuters research 2015: Digital News Consumption

  • Based on a YouGov survey of over 20,000 online news consumers in the US, UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Brazil, Japan and Australia.
  • “This year’s data shows a quickening of the pace towards social media platforms as routes for audiences, together with a surge in the use of mobile for news, a decline in the desktop internet and significant growth in video news consuption online.”

Source: http://www.digitalnewsreport.org

Reuters 2014

  • The use of smartphones and tablets has jumped significantly in the past year, with fewer people using their computers for news. More than a third of online news users across all countries (39%) use two or more digital devices each week for news and a fifth (20%) now say their mobile phone is their primary access point.
  • The number of people paying for digital news has remained stable over the past 12 months, although we have seen a significant switch to more valuable ongoing digital subscription in most countries.
  • Researches have found that as many people acquire more devices they consume more news in aggregate (time spent) – but also access news more often throughout the day.

Increase in mobile news access

  • “On average people use a small number of trusted news sources on the mobile phone. The average across all countries is 1.52 per person, significantly fewer than on a tablet or computer. We also find that, even though 70% of smartphones users have a news app installed on their phone, only a third of respondents actually use them in a given week, reinforcing the difficulty many news brands have in cutting through on this crowded and very personal advice.”

What’s the difference between the internet and the world wide web?

The internet is a big collection of computers and cables.

  • The large container and the web is a part within the container.
  • “the net is the restaurant, and the web is the most popular dish on the menu.”

The world wide web is a massive collection of digital pages

Web browsing .v.  apps:

Making money out of news content increasingly difficult when people are browsing the whole wide web on desktops.

“In a multitasking world where no one medium struggles to get anyones full attention, bite-sized news spoon-fed through controlled gateways on mobile applications proved increasingly popular.” (Jones and Salter, 2012:122)

The 2nd Chance: Apps: (Jones and Salter, 2012)


  • Apps use the net- but not the web
  • Closed ‘back-end’ systems
  • Fast
  • Accessible/user friendly
  • Enough interactivity- but still quick and easy
  • ‘Curated’ content
  • People pay

Web browsing

  • Uses the web
  • Open ‘front-end’ system
  • Flexible
  • More ‘fiddly’ on mobile
  • Find it yourself
  • People want it free

How many apps?

In the UK

  • 29 apps on a smart phone on average
  • 10 of them used in the last month
  • 9 of them were paid apps

Source: http://services.google.com/fh/files/misc/omp-2013-uk-en.pdf

Getting mobile journalism working:

News organisations looking to integrate mobile phones within standard practice.

Not only creating content with mobiles but also publishing directly from mobile.

Mobiles enable the field of fact checking and faster publishing of breaking and involving stories.

Practicalities: Kit and Compatibility:

What you need-

  • Media capture and editing capabilities
  • Mobile network and/or Wi-fi, Bluetooth
  • GPS
  • Battery life
  • User-friendliness- easy to use, efficient, reliable


Quality of visuals/sounds

Battery life

Uploading times

User interface

Trying to write on a tiny keyboard

Putting assignments online is time consuming

Sending data is very expensive (one file cost £88.72)

Local mobile journalism:

According to Google research:

  • Smartphones help users navigate the world. Appearing on smartphones is crucial for local businesses.
  • 87% of smartphone users look for local information on their phone and 76% take action as a result, such as making a purchase or contacting the business.