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News and the Public Sphere in a Multi-Ethnic Society. A case study of the BBC’s Regional Television News Programme: Midlands Today

By Shirley Denise Burgess

Abstract

In light of the implementation of the pan-BBC diversity policy in 2000 - with the aims/objectives of the BBC to reflect the nation that we serve (Dyke 2000), this study undertook a methodical analysis of the output of the Midlands Today programme. This enabled an assessment to be made upon whether the BBC’s ‘paper’ diversity policy translates into ‘practice’ on Midlands Today, in terms of this programme reflecting the cultural ethnic diversity of the West Midlands region in its output. The finding of this analysis was then used to determine to what extent, this programme’s output could be deemed to be a reflection/depiction/articulation of a multi-ethnic public sphere. \ud The analysis of 258 Midlands Today programme’s broadcast over the periods of 2002 to 2008, revealed that the output of this programme consistently fails to representatively reflect the cultural ethnic diversity of the West Midlands region – to where it broadcasts. \ud This study identified that the primary reason for this finding, is because of the lack of a cultural change in the news production process, as employed on the Midlands Today programme; a cultural change that would facilitate and encompass the aims/objectives of the pan-BBC diversity policy, hand-in-hand and alongside the aims/objectives of the news production process. \ud Therefore, Midlands Today’s failure to contribute to the formation of a multi-ethnic public sphere, can be understood in terms of this programme being shaped by at least 2 separate forces - both ‘vying’ and ‘competing’ for the ‘air space’ within the Midlands Today programme. The first: the aims/objectives of the news production process; the second: the aims/objectives of the pan-BBC diversity policy. \ud Without a significant cultural change, the first force - the news production process, will always take priority, supersede and inadvertently negate the second

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2011
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/9062

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