Faversham Stoa is a philosophy discussion group. We meet on the 3rd Tuesday of every month from 7.30 to 9.30pm in the The Bull in Tanners Street. We cover a large range of topics. There's no charge for membership and everyone is welcome to drop in. Just bring your brain and some beer money!

The Stoa talks about journalism

The articles and videos listed on this page are intended as sort of collection keywords for stimulating our discussion of journalism and the news media.

Don't feel you have to read all of them! Dip into a few to get a flavour of the topic.

The short, one page article, Ten Ugly Truths about journalism, is a good place to start, even if you feel it's a bit unfair.

Most of these articles are from Wikipedia which, of course, prompts the whole question of how much we can trust the internet and other new media. However, there is a very good article arguing that Wikipedia is very reliable. Mind you...it is in Wikipedia...! Mmmm!?

So what are the big issues in journalism right now?

Sensationalism sells

Sensationalism sells better than dry factual reporting.

Little fact-checking

There is little fact-checking and copy-editing these day owing to the pressure of trying to get stories out quickly.

Stories from wire services

Many stories come from wire services as investigative reporting is becoming too expensive for newspapers.

Quick and dirty sources

Journalists often also use quick-and-dirty sources like Wikipedia and Twitter to save time.

The movie 'Starsuckers', about celebrity-obsessed culture, shows that some tabloids are willing to print stories as long as they are plausible but they have no serious interest in the accuracy of the stories.

Ignoring privacy rights

We also now know that some of the tabloids have been involved in overstepping laws on privacy in their willingness to engage in phone-hacking and purchasing medical records.

24 hour news

According to some commentators 24 hour news creates ferocious competition among media organizations for audience share and this has led to a decline in journalistic standards.

In their book Warp Speed: America in the Age of Mixed Media the authors argue that "the press has moved toward sensationalism, entertainment, and opinion" and away from traditional values of verification, proportion, relevance, depth, and quality of interpretation.

They fear these values will be replaced by a "journalism of assertion" which de-emphasizes whether a claim is valid and encourages putting a claim into the arena of public discussion as quickly as possible.

Concentration of media ownership

Rupert Murdoch owns The Sun, The Times and Sunday Times and 39% of satellite broadcasting network BSkyB.

BSkyB in turn owns a significant part of ITV plc and 5% of Shine Limited.

In March 2011, the United Kingdom provisionally approved Murdoch to buy the remaining 61% of BSkyB, however, subsequent events (News of the World hacking scandal and its closure in July 2011) leading to the Leveson Inquiry halted the takeover.

Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) own The Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday, Ireland on Sunday and the London daily Metro. They also control a large part of regional media have large shares in ITN and GCap Media.

Richard Desmond owns OK! magazine, Channel 5, the Daily Express and the Daily Star.

The Evening Standard and The Independent are both owned by Russian businessman Alexander Lebedev.

Competition from free media

Finally, there is the problem of how to make newspapers pay these days. With so much free news on TV and the Internet and so much competition for advertising, revenue from newspapers is drastically declining. This is turn means that newspapers have fewer resources to spend on traditional investigative reporting. Some attempts have been made to sell newspapers on-line but so far these are not very successful. Micro payments for individual stories might be one way to go or it may be that newspapers, like publishing generally, are going to have to follow the music industry and bit the metaphorical e-bullet and find new ways of monitising their product.

But it's not all bad news. There are still a few crusaders for truth out there like John Pilger whose two videos on this page, Breaking the Mirror and Real Journalism, are well worth watching.

Ethics & Values in Journalism

Investigative journalism

Journalese & Jargon

How to write the news

UK News Media

UK Broadcast media

UK Newspapers

Internet news media

Media ecology

The Pressures

Media Scandals

The future of journalism

Tabloid Journalism (videos)


Censorship & control

News media

History of Newspapers & Journalism

Bias & manipulation in the news

Sourcing the News

Types of journalist and journalism