Research Paper: Multisource Comparison: British vs. American

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[. . .] We have stricter ethical standards. We're stodgier. Competition is tough, but it's much less fierce" (Chittum 2011). By virtue of the newspapers playing a less central role than television in American media culture, newspapers have been able to uphold higher ethical standards.

Recently, in the UK, there has been a call for more rigorous standards of truth, regarding how issues are reported. In one editorial to The Guardian, it was said: "in recent years the tabloid virus has spread well beyond the traditional tabloids...It is no longer enough for a television reporter or newscaster to report the facts. They are expected to let us know...what we should be thinking, too. I am told it is known in the profession as 'news with attitude'" (Mullin 2011). Tony Blair, who was much-pilloried by the press during his tenure as PM began to speak of the British 'feral media' which he said "sapped the country's confidence and self-belief; it undermines its assessment of itself, its institutions; and above all it reduces our capacity to take the right decisions in the right spirit for our future" (Mullin 2011). Although the American media has had wars of words with presidents, such as President Obama's recent fights with Rush Limbaugh and Fox news, the campaigns in the British press have been more sustained and, some feel, more petty (although President Obama has been criticized for relatively trivial decisions such as getting a Portuguese water dog for his girls and putting mustard on his hamburgers).

Despite the demands for legal actions against British journalists who have violated laws regarding phone hacking, it is unlikely that the two media cultures will mesh any time soon. First of all, there is a "huge American nexus of journalism schools, foundations dedicated to journalistic ethics, and journalism awards, which have no equivalent in Britain," which has contributed to the sense of a need to uphold ethics in American journalism ("Is American journalism better than British," CSIS, 2012). Journalism as an academic discipline is unlikely to be transplanted into Britain's university system. Secondly, there is a tendency of the British press to see itself as a group of outsiders, rather than individuals with civic responsibilities to uncover the truth. This "fundamental divergence stems from the differing constitutional arrangements in Britain and the United States. In Britain, at least theoretically, the prime minister is accountable to the people via their elected representatives in Parliament," and it is Parliament who questions the PM ("Is American journalism better than British," CSIS, 2012). "In the United States, the President never submits himself to questioning on Capitol Hill and is accountable to the people via the media, most specifically through presidential press conferences. American journalists have thus acquired a kind of quasi-constitutional status that gives them a much greater sense of self-importance than their British counterparts, many of whom regard journalism as basically a game" (American journalism better than British," CSIS, 2012).

American journalism may fail to live up to its ideals -- but at least the press has ideals. As much as the American media may be criticized for being long-winded and self-important in Britain, the alternative of viewing the media-as-entertainment has often had dangerous consequences 'across the pond.' And Great Britain thus provides a potent warning about the dangers of losing the aspects of American journalism that has brought it respect: serious, rigor, depth, and self-policed ethics.

Works Cited

"American vs. British newspapers." Rhetorica. 19 Nov 2002. [8 Jul 2012]

http://rhetorica.net/archives/469.html

"British vs. American Journalism." Britain and America. 1 Jun 2007. [8 Jul 2012]

http://britainandamerica.typepad.com/britain_and_america/2007/06/british_versus_.html

Burton, Ilona. "Drunkorexia." The Independent. 9 July 2012. [9 Jul 2012]

http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2012/07/09/drunkorexia-a-stupid-name-but-a-serious-problem/

Chittum, Ryan. "News of the world and U.S. culture." The Columbia Journalism Review.

6 Jul 2011 [8 Jul 2012]

http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/how_us_media_culture_differs_f.php

"Is American journalism better than British?" Center for Strategic and International Studies.

2012. [9 Jul 2012] http://csis.org/blog/american-journalism-better-british

Kolata, Gina. "In dieting, magic isn't a substitute for science." The New York Times.

10 Jul 2012. [10 Jul 2012]

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/10/health/nutrition/q-and-a-are-high-protein-low-carb-diets-effective.html?_r=1&ref=health

Mullin, Chris. "Tabloid culture is destroying political reporting." The Guardian. 16 Nov 2009.

[8 Jul 2012] http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/nov/16/political-reporting-chris-mullin

The New York Times. [9 Jul 2012]. http://www.nytimes.com/

"The popular press." The Economist. 11 Jul 2011. [8 Jul 2012]

http://www.economist.com/node/18956586

Postman, Neil & Steve Powers. How to watch TV. Penguin: 1992.

The Times. [9 Jul 2012]. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/ [END OF PREVIEW]

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