An empirical approach to Greek viewpoint diversity

Mediterranean e-journal of Communication & Media, 2013 Vol.2 No.1

An empirical approach to Greek viewpoint diversity –

The economic crisis and the outflow of the news content

 

Andreas N. Masouras

Lecturer, Neapolis University, Pafos

Email: a.masouras@nup.ac.cy

 

 

Abstract

This research presents a methodology application for the study of viewpoint diversity in television news. More specifically, the application moves along three axes: the study of diversity in the range of topics, people diversity study and the study of time diversity that is the time that is provided by the channels to various topics. At first, the nature of television newscasts is discussed.

  1. 1.       The significance of news bulletins

Viewpoint diversity is usually approached through news and informational shows, since these types of programmes entail the element of opinion in a far greater degree and intensity than other programme genres. In addition, the message of these programmes is more easily decoded. For instance, a movie may include an ideological message hidden in the plot. On the contrary, in news bulletins the message is clear and directly expressed by representatives of various opinions and ideologies. Therefore, newscasts are the ideal genre in order for the researcher to study viewpoint diversity. In this chapter, content study is applied on the case of news bulletins, that is the diversity of news content is being studied, based on certain parameters that have already been discussed in the methodology chapter. However, prior to the application, this subchapter deals with the analysis of some empirical approaches with regard to the role and the nature of news bulletins in Greece, as they are perceived by their own chief editors.

According to the editor-in-chief of the news programmes aired by ANT1 TV in 2010, Lefkos Christou (pers. comm. 2010), the main news bulletin of a TV channel should be a reflection of the channel itself. The reliability, validity and objectivity of the main news define the identity of the channel. ANT1’s main evening news bulletin reflects the integrity of the TV channel. The answer to the question of how the main news bulletin builds the branding of the overall content of the channel is reliability. A news bulletin should be reliable, valid, timely and objective, and it should provide pluralist news coverage of the latest current affairs at a local or international level.

Christou (pers. comm. 2010), considers that the main news bulletin is shown at the heart of the prime-time TV viewing period because this is when the overwhelming majority of the viewers are tied down to watch the daily news. For this reason, companies that record overall viewing figures for television channels consider the viewing figures for news bulletins the most important factor when measuring ratings. Besides, main news bulletins are broadcast in the prime-time slot, usually starting at 18:00 and ending at 24:00.

In addition, the editor-in-chief of ANT1 TV points out that, during the Gulf crisis, CNN played a leading part in the live broadcast of allied forces removing Iraqi troops from Kuwait, and this was a small revolution in the television field: the live broadcast of significant events at a place where events were actually happening was established. With respect to production, the news bulletin has moved beyond a single image, since all television channels, with the support of technology, have introduced the split-screen view. The American way of newscasting has also affected Europe, even the BBC – a conservative broadcaster. A main news bulletin will always try to find ways of attracting more viewers in order to achieve high viewing figures and reach an identifiable audience. These days, viewers are hard to please, as they are aware of what is going on all over the world due to satellite television. Therefore, any positive change in or innovation of a news bulletin is used by rival channels. In Greece, all television channels follow the same path: announcement of the news bulletin menu through trailers and the presentation of headlines or other information through news tickers or “crawlers”. All news reports are accompanied by titles, so that the viewer knows what is going on in cases when he has no sound. The accompanying video material of a news report is richer and the news report is combined with these televised scenes. During the last few years, news reports have been interlarded with cards, as appropriate. This innovation is used in news reports related to statistical data or written statements. Objectivity, reliability and validity are essential for a news bulletin. Timely news reporting is very important, as viewers give credit to the channel that is the first to inform them about an important event. These elements, as well as modern news coverage, are determinant factors in identifying a high-flying TV channel.

Finally, Christou considers that the diversification tactics and methods of a channel are inherent in the economic cost of a main news bulletin, which constitutes about 65% of the total expenditure of a TV channel. Imponderables are inevitable, since the news bulletin is a live information tool and news reporting is unpredictable. A news bulletin can change dramatically even on air due to breaking news. Furthermore, technical problems may occur and “blacken” the screen temporarily. However, there are safeguards such as the operation of a generator in the case of a power cut. As far as the item used for productions, it depends on the identity of each television channel. One channel may be “news-oriented” and focus on the analysis of news building, impacting on its branding. Conversely, another channel may be “lighter” in its approach. During the last few years, television channels in Greece have increased the number of domestic productions, since the audience prefers domestic over foreign television productions.

As far as the same channel is concerned, the foreign news chief editor of the Athens News Agency, Michalis Psilos (pers. comm. 2008), who cooperates with the news department at ANT1 TV, has the same philosophy regarding content diversification. He states that diversification is achieved through the people who appear in a televised news bulletin, referring to those who make comments through the split-screen. Moreover, Psilos outlines the diversification of Greek TV channels as follows. Information and news-related programmes at MEGA TV account for about 20% of output, since this TV channel aims at covering major political events through unbiased and serious reporting. ANT1 TV is not as interested in promoting political issues; on the contrary, this channel is interested in promoting social issues highlighting the social unrest of citizens through its news bulletins and using most of the bulletin’s length for discussions instead of broadcasting video material. ALPHA TV tries to imitate the style of MEGA TV, but, according to Psilos, this channel does not have the same validity and prestige as MEGA TV. Finally, the apolitical news bulletin transmitted by STAR CHANNEL does not deal to a great extent with political or social issues, as it is not interested in politics or politically neutrality; most of the channel’s news bulletins feature lifestyle, showbiz and fashion news, leaving many serious subjects either completely out of the newscast or with very little broadcasting time. This news programme targets a dynamic audience aged between 15 and 30 years old and has the highest rating among all other news bulletins, since it differentiates completely (Psilos, pers. comm. 2008).

The news department director for MEGA Channel, Pavlos Milonas (pers. comm. 2010), deals with the structure and scheduling of news bulletins. Specifically, when referring to the morphology of diversification, he considers that it is closely related to the people involved with the news bulletin, especially the journalists, news anchors and commentators. Milonas points out that the parameters of the ideas of the journalists, the interests of the channel and the bulletin’s style define the content of the news bulletin, thus outlining its form.

As regards the time placement of newscasts, Milonas points out that the channel’s decision about the programmes that precede and follow the news bulletin is significant, as the channel’s prime-time zone is built in this way; moreover, the starting time of the news bulletin is essential, since if it starts even a few minutes earlier than the news bulletin of the rival channel, it captures the attention of a significant part of the television audience due to this diversification. Finally, Milonas points out that in MEGA TV the total timing of the anchors’ delivery with regard to the total length of the news bulletin is longer compared with the respective timing in ANT1 TV, since ANT1 takes the utmost account of videos and news reports and MEGA TV is interested in the comments and the views of the anchors, journalists, correspondents or commentators involved with the news bulletin (Milonas, pers. comm. 2010).

It is concluded from the above professionals’ accounts that the style and content of news bulletins reflect the image of the television channel, and this is why they are far more important than the other programme genres. Through a television channel, the factors that may create a notional background showing the status of the channel’s programming are promoted. In simple words, the issue here is not that the entire programming is based on the image of the news bulletin, or that the news bulletin is based on the entire programming, but that the news bulletin is used as a vehicle to show the image of the channel to the viewer. If may be, for instance, a “serious” and reputable TV channel, a “primarily news-oriented” channel that is a power newsmonger, a “light infotainment” channel (Graber 1994) or a channel with other features used to describe its profile. Diversification between television channels – the variation between content and tactics as defined and analyzed in this chapter – is pursued through the brand positioning undertaken in news bulletins. The author of this research considers that a television channel can easier define its diversification through news bulletins than through any other programme, since news bulletins are more “flexible” as far as their format, structure and purpose are concerned.

Fundamentally, the main news bulletin is viewed as the build-up of shorter news bulletins broadcast throughout the day, and constitute the backbone on which the entire programming of the channel is based. Therefore, news bulletins give programming coherence and cohesion, building up to the main news bulletin. The repeated advertising spots that show through the main news bulletin what it is going to be broadcast later keep the viewer alert and watching the same channel for as long as possible. This is usually the role of newsflashes, the average length of which is two minutes.

Fields (1988) considers that a fully qualitative analysis of the different levels of messages may give us information presenting all the elements that constitute a message. In an effort to isolate and classify the elements that constitute a televised news bulletin, trying to create an electronic formula for recording these elements, Ide and Tanaka (1998) distinguish these elements into two categories: grammatical characteristics and semantic characteristics. Elements related to language such as the composition of sentences and specifically the omission of the subject or the use of a noun at the end of a sentence are classified in the first category. Elements related to technical issues such as live links, the news in brief and the organizational structure of the news bulletin are classified as semantics. This research of Ide and Tanaka (1998) distinguishes the television elements aimed at creating an electronic data classification formula. This modifies this research study (Ide and Tanaka 1998) up to a point, since it aims at data analysis automation and not at a primary qualitative or quantitative analysis of the content of the news bulletins. This matter will be discussed further down as well, in the case of viewpoint diversity, since its approach, both from a quantitative and a qualitative perspective, is extremely challenging

The economic aspect of a televised news bulletin is quite interesting, as it usually has fixed expenses – which will be presented in detail through empirical analysis – even though it includes live exterior links. TV channel owners control the budget of their news bulletins do not, expenditure-wise, cross the red lines drawn by the TV channel owners, over against a TV series, for instance, that includes imponderables such as the low audience figures and the fiasco.

Televised news bulletins have specificities related to their diversity level as regards their range of topics the frequency of broadcasting. The main specificity over the other programme genres is the fact that one can refer to the content diversity of a news bulletin. Conversely, one cannot refer to the content diversity of a film for instance, since it has no specific topics, so one should refer to the diversity of technical features and not content diversity. Therefore, televised news bulletins differ from other programmes due mainly to their range of topics as well as to the diversity of ideas developed throughout the bulletin.

  1. 2.       The empirical analysis of viewpoint diversity

 

2.1. Diversity in the range of topics

The first point that is empirically studied with regard to viewpoint diversity in Greek television is the range of the thematic agenda, that is the news coverage. It should be stressed that the categorization of the topics is not nominal. In other words, the study does not concern only the main categories, such as “Economy”, but there are subcategories and what is basically examined is the diversity in the range of topics. If news coverage is viewed in parallel with the respective range of topics, then in this case topics are classified into genres and subgenres. The matter of economy for example is a main genre. If this genre is further divided into more specific topics, such as cost of life and unemployment, then these two topics are subgenres of economy. In this way, the journalistic content is categorized and through this categorization its degree of diversity can be assessed. The empirical application of viewpoint diversity is based on the comparative analysis of the diversity in topic coverage, with respect to the time periods that were mentioned in the methodological chapter. The study focuses on the diversity of representation by the channels, and in particular by the main news bulletins, of people that express political views or ideologies of other groups. In addition, the temporal distribution is also studied – as a constituent element that facilitates the assessment of diversity degree – and a comparative analysis of the topics’ temporal distribution is conducted, with respect to the periods before and during the economic crisis.

The first point, that is the diversity of news coverage and the category of political topics, present a steady development during all the time periods under examination, with the exception of November 2011, when political topics reach a percentage of 24.8% in news bulletins, due to the political conditions of that period, caused by the announcement of early elections. It is important to mention that politics is the topic with the highest broadcasting percentages during the whole period of examination and it is really close to the category of financial matters. Apart from this general observation, the amount of broadcasting differs among the channels under examination. For instance, politics are broadcast 211 times in NET, 275 in MEGA, 133 in ANT1 and 115 in ALPHA. Therefore, there is significant divergence among the channels. On the other hand, politics, along with financial matters, are the main category in all channels; there is hence, homogeneity with regard to news coverage diversity. The low degree of diversity becomes even more prominent when the high percentages of politics and finance are compared to those of the other categories, such as education, arts and culture. The following graph illustrates these comparisons:

graph1

Graph 1: This graph presents the total number of broadcastings in the channels under examination, according to time duration. Politics is the category that constitutes the main journalistic genre in newscasts.

The category that, like politics, has significantly high percentages of broadcasting is financial matters. Due to its high degree of diversity and because of its special features that emanate from this recent period of the economic crisis, this genre is divided into subgenres. These are the following: consumption and cost of life; fiscal policy; unemployment. Consumption and cost of life is the subgenre that concerns the most news bulletins during the pre-crisis period, namely in November – December 2008 and February – March 2009, since it has the highest broadcasting percentage compared to all other periods that are examined in the research. More specifically, in November 2008 the matter of consumption and cost of life is broadcast 56 times in the channels under examination and in March 2009, it appears 61 times. The paradox of this case is that one would expect this topic to appear more during the crisis period, namely in November – December 2001 and February – March 2012, but the data of this research show a decline in the promotion of this matter by the channels under examination. This, however, does not imply that the total percentage of the financial genre has decreased, since the subcategory of fiscal policy – which is included in the wider financial category – shows an increase, in contrast to the subcategory of cost of life. It should be mentioned that this subgenre is broadcast 42 times in February and March 2012 respectively. In other words, it presents the same broadcasting percentage both in February 2012 and in March 2012, specifically 16.2% on the total of this subgenre during the periods under examination. In addition, it can be observed that in November 2011, a crucial period for the economic crisis in Greece, the subgenre of fiscal policy is the most promoted topic. In the financial genre however, the case of unemployment subgenre is of particular interest. One would logically expect that this subgenre would appear more in the news. On the contrary, it presents, at least initially, a stable broadcasting percentage and in March 2012 its percentage decreases. This can be interpreted in several ways. A possible explanation – which also concerns the weaknesses of the methodology that is used to approach journalistic content diversity – is that a topic may be approach in a different manner and consequently to fall under another subcategory. For instance, unemployment matters may be presented within the broader context of fiscal policy. In this case, there is a conflict of topic coverage – when one subgenre falls under another category – which hinders the methodological recording and analysis.

graph2

Graph 2: In this graph the category of financial matters is isolated and divided into three subgenres, namely consumption, fiscal policy and unemployment, which are comparatively presented, according to the time periods under examination

With respect to other journalistic genres, the category of crime and lawlessness presents a high but stable frequency of broadcasting, without any significant variation. The rest journalistic genres – as it is shown in the following tables – have uniform, but also low broadcasting frequency.

graph3

Graph 3: Here, the news genres are presented, according to each channel broadcasting percentage

2.2. People diversity in newscasts

The study of people diversity in television newscasts is highly interesting, because through people diversity study, more accurate conclusions can be drawn regarding viewpoint diversity, beyond the range of news topics. If the researcher examines only the topics covered by the news, the conclusions of the research will not be complete. This happens because the news coverage, on its own, does not entail any opinion and as a consequence, recording the diversity of the range of topics is a significantly challenging matter. However, when it is combined with the study of people diversity, the conclusions regarding viewpoint diversity are better supported and confirmed. In the following tables, people diversity is presented in detail, with regard to the channels and time periods under examination.

In the following tables, the degree of diversity is depicted with regard to the representatives of political parties and other groups, before and during the economic crisis.

graph4

Graph 4: In this graph the representation of political parties or groups per channel is depicted, in the time period before the crisis.

Before the crisis, the political party that is promoted more is “New Democracy” and it is quite interesting that this tendency exists in all four channels under examination. More specifically, during this period, a representative of “New Democracy” party is presented in public television 144 times, 125 times in MEGA, 49 in ANT1 and 53 times in ALPHA. The representatives of “Pasok” party follow, having however a great difference from “New Democracy”.

graph5

Graph 5: In this graph the representation of political parties or groups per channel is depicted, in the time period during the crisis.

In the same examination, but during the economic crisis, there is a change between “Pasok” and “New Democracy”. More specifically, a representative of “Pasok” appears 111 times in public television, 103 times in MEGA, 80 times in ANT1 and 39 times in ALPHA, while “New Democracy” is represented 86 times in public television, 66 times in MEGA, 43 times in ANT1 and 33 times in ALPHA.

Comparing both periods, it is illustrated that there is a low degree of people diversity, with regard to political representation. A preference of the channels for 2 parties, namely “New Democracy” and “Pasok”, is recorded. Furthermore, there is an equal representation, in both periods, of 2 left parties, namely the Communist party and “Syriza”, but with limited appearances. The low degree of people diversity is also shown through the rare presentation of other political groups, such as independent MPs or politicians or the “Ecologists” party.

graph6

Graph 6: In this graph people diversity is recorded with regard to the capacity of speakers, in the time period before the crisis.

Another important point that needs to be studied in the context of people diversity is – apart from the representatives of political parties – the capacity of people that appear on the news. As it is shown in the above graph, politicians are in first place, followed by citizens, who appear in reports that take place in public areas, where their opinion regarding various issues is asked for. As it has been discussed, news bulletins in Greece have a more anthropocentric structure. The category of citizens is followed by financial analysts.

graph7

Graph 7: In this graph people diversity is recorded with regard to the capacity of speakers, in the time period during the crisis.

There is an interesting finding with regard to the capacity of speakers during the economic crisis: politicians appear 281 times in public television, 316 times in MEGA, 240 times in ANT1 and 181 times in ALPHA. In ALPHA however, politicians is not the first category, since the category of citizens appears 321 times.

In the following four graphs, a dual factor is presented: the relation between the speaker’s capacity and the discussion subject. The first two graphs, present the connection only between politicians and the topic which is discussed, while the other two include several speaker categories. These relations are highly significant, given that viewpoint diversity primarily concerns the content of expression and opinion, even though, as it will be discussed further down, opinion cannot be quantitatively recorded.

graph8

Graph 8: In this graph, the relation of political representatives to the topic which is discussed is presented, before the economic crisis.

graph9

Graph 9: In this graph, the relation of political representatives to the topic which is discussed is presented, during the economic crisis.

It is observed that, in both periods, politicians deal with a very limited range of topics in news bulletins, and primarily with political issues. There is a tendency of referring to financial matters, which however are incorporated within political discussions, as financial matters have political implications as well. From the above graphs, it could be established that there is a low degree of diversity with regard to the relation of politicians and matters of discussion.

graph10

Graph 10: This graph presents the relation of speakers’ capacity to the topic of discussion before the economic crisis. The categorization is more general and includes various fields.

graph11

Graph 11: This graph presents the relation of speakers’ capacity to the topic of discussion during the economic crisis. The categorization is more general and includes various fields.

Through the above analysis of people diversity, its various levels are clarified. In other words, the low degree of diversity with regard to political representation is depicted, since the frequent promotion of only two parties is in contrast to the low or zero broadcasting percentages of other political parties or groups. On the other hand, apart from politicians, a higher degree regarding the diversity of speakers’ capacity is observed. For instance, during the economic crisis, one would expect that financial analysts would compete with politicians in appearances. Nevertheless, the above graphs show a preference for the promotion of simple citizens. Therefore, when people diversity in news bulletins is examined, more variables should be combined, in order for people diversity to be horizontally assessed and not at a single level. Clearly, this depends on the purposes of each researcher who wishes to examine diversity.

Through the research question regarding people diversity and the application to the case of main news bulletins that were studied in this research, an empirical approach   is developed, which is based on three axes: a) political diversity, b) speakers’ capacity and c) association of topics with speakers’ capacity.

graph12

Graph 12: .In this graph, the three elements that constitute people diversity are depicted. The assessment of people diversity through these axes is significant, because it presents a more complete view of the concept (author, 2013)

The element of political diversity concerns the diversity in the representation of political parties or groups, based on their broadcasting frequency. The empirical analysis showed considerable divergence in this form of diversity, which is an important index – factor for the assessment of people diversity in the news .

The second axis, speakers’ capacity, comprises all the speakers who appear – either as group representatives or as individuals – in newscasts, including politicians. This research in particular included the following categories: politicians, financial analysts, public administrators, people related to the church, education, media, culture and arts, showbiz , science, sports, security forces (e.g. policemen, firefighters, etc.), justice, NGOs, trade unions, citizens and the general category “other” .

Finally, the third element, namely the association of the topic discussed with the capacity of the speaker, concerns topic diversity in relation to the speaker’s background. For instance, the category that presents a high degree of diversity regards citizens who deal with various topics, such as politics, the economy and social matters, which are mostly related to the institution of family.

The significance of these factors lies in the fact that news as a genre is characterized a process of internal diversity. The concept of internal diversity in the news is used to indicate the complex, multi-leveled and unique composition of this genre. News genre by its nature incorporates various aspects of diversity. In this research, the three dimensions of a specific kind of diversity, viewpoint diversity, have been studied, namely thematic diversity, people diversity and the factor of time that is analyzed below. In this exact point lies the difference of news from other programme genres; in its composition by multiple factors which determine the degree of internal diversity. Furthermore, in the first subchapter of this chapter the emphasis given by the channels in this genre was discussed, as well as the significance of the main newscast for the whole image of the channel. Apart from this however, still referring to the concept of people diversity, it comprises a set of elements. In other words, when people diversity is examined, a basic set of three dimensions should be accounted for: who says what and in which capacity.

  1. 3.       The factor of time in newscasts (time diversity)

As it was discussed in the empirical chapter, the time variable plays an important role in the whole process of diversity assessment. Especially in the case of viewpoint diversity, time distribution can indicate the importance of certain topics, persons or political parties. In general, time indicates the subjects that the channels consider as of high priority. The study of time combined with the study of people diversity essentially facilitates the understanding of the factors that influence the degree of viewpoint diversity. The factor of time could be defined as time diversity. Nonetheless, studying the time variable is not a simple matter and certain sub questions should be set in the research. For example, which is the temporal distribution the researcher wishes to examine and what comparisons will be made through this given temporal distribution. The study of time can be applied also in the case of people diversity, that is one could examine the amount of time that is given to people when expressing their opinions. In this research, the time factor was applied to genre diversity as well. Evidently, in the case of genre diversity, the concept of time has an additional meaning, that of the distinction into programme time zones, therefore the interpretation of time in these two different cases should not be confused. In the following tables, a general approach to time is presented, with regard to political and non-political matters in the channels under examination:

Channel Politics Non-politics news Total
NET 40760 sec. 38289 sec. 79049 sec.
MEGA 50952 sec. 34895 sec. 85847 sec.
ANT1 28798 sec. 49406 sec. 78204 sec.
ALPHA 18425 sec. 55285 sec. 70110 sec.

Table 1: In this table, the time each channel dedicates to politics and non-politics news is recorded, for the whole period viewpoint diversity is examined.

Period Politics Non-politics news Total
Nov – Dec 2008 & Feb – Mar 2009 49410 sec. 101639 sec. 151049 sec.
Nov – Dec 2011 & Feb – Mar 2012 89525 sec. 76236 sec. 165761 sec.

Table 2: In this table, the total time dedicated to politics and non-politics news is recorded, with regard to the two time periods under examination.

Channel Politics Non-politics news Total
ΝΕΤ prior economic crisis 12485 sec. 25481 sec. 37966 sec.
MEGA prior economic crisis 19357 sec. 20712 sec. 40069 sec.
ANT1 prior economic crisis 8849 sec. 26923 sec. 35772 sec.
ALPHA prior economic crisis 8719 sec. 28523 sec. 37242 sec.
ΝΕΤ amid economic crisis 28275 sec. 12808 sec. 41083 sec.
MEGA amid economic crisis 31595 sec. 14183 sec. 45778 sec.
ANT1 amid economic crisis 19949 sec. 22483 sec. 42432 sec.
ALPHA  amid economic crisis 9706 sec. 26762 sec. 36468 sec.

Table 3: Here, the time dedicated to politics and non-politics news is recorded, both per channel and time period.

  1. 4.       Issues of application to viewpoint diversity

The application of viewpoint diversity study differs from the other types of diversity such as genre diversity and source diversity. The key difference is that opinion – viewpoint – and consequently the degree of viewpoint diversity cannot be quantified. It cannot be quantitatively recorded, for example, how many times an opinion is presented in a programme. Viewpoint on its own does not constitute a genre, not even a variable to assess. In the case of genre diversity for example, programmes are classified into general programme categories and then into genres and in this way they can be quantified. On the contrary, viewpoint diversity deals with a subjective matter – opinion – which due to this subjectivity cannot be categorized.

In this research, viewpoint diversity is methodologically approached through certain variables, which basically estimate the preference tendencies of the channels towards groups that express specific views in the context of their social or political activity. The approach to people diversity hence, shows who are the people that are presented to a greater or lesser extent in newscasts and where do they come from; it does not account for what these people say. What is essentially studied in the context of viewpoint diversity, is not the actual opinion, but where it originates in, its source, because this is the measurable variable in this specific context.

As it was previously mentioned, there are various problems with regard to the categorization of the news coverage. These problems also appear during the categorization of other programme genres. Firstly, news programmes is a general category therefore the researcher who wishes to examine such an issue should specify it. Several genres are considered as news programmes; one of them is news bulletins, which is the genre studied in this research. The question that arises here is whether viewpoint diversity can be approached through other genres as well, except newscasts. Clearly, viewpoint diversity can be detected in other genres as well, provided that they are of journalistic nature that is genres that are included in the category of news programmes.

Still focusing on categorization, the issue of conflict between journalistic genres and subgenres emerges. In a previous chapter, a relevant situation was discussed with regard to other genres. For instance, when the “unemployment” subgenre is discussed, how does the researcher ensure that unemployment does not appear in another topic which is incorporated in the subgenre of fiscal policy? Therefore, from a methodological point of view, during the recording and categorization process, it is possible to encounter topics that cannot be accurately classified, since they could belong to more than one genre or subgenre.

There are many reasons why news programmes are preferred for the study of viewpoint diversity. The most important is that news programmes include expressions of opinion and interpretation of current affairs and in general of issues that interest the public. Although the style and form of each news programme varies accordingly, all news programmes include viewpoint and interpretation to some extent. The case of main news bulletins is more explicit, since they are structure in a specific manner and cove the prime time zone. Moreover, in main newscasts, especially in Greece, the presence of people and group representatives is far more intense.

The study of diversity in the journalistic coverage (agenda) does not constitute a factor on its own for the study of viewpoint diversity, because the news agenda does not automatically indicates the existence of opinion in it. What is essentially examined is which topics are preferred, for instance, whether politics are presented more than finance.

Finally, the study of temporal distribution, as it was previously discussed, merely enhances the findings of the above two levels, namely the study of the news agenda and of people diversity. Time study on its own, unless it is combined with other variables, cannot lead to valid conclusions and consequently it may be useless. For instance, if by studying temporal distribution, a researcher concludes that a given channel offered more time in finance than another one, which dedicated more time in politics, this piece of information on its own does not reach accurate results, since the importance of a news item depends on many additional factors, such as the positioning of this news item and the way in which it is presented. In any case, for a proper assessment of temporal distribution to be conducted, the process should be as analytical as it is possible. Time should be assessed, not only with regard to each category, but also on the basis of genres, in order for accurate conclusions to be drawn.

References

Fields, Echo E. 1988. “Qualitative content analysis of television news: Systematic techniques.” Qualitative Sociology.  11(3) (1988): 183-193.

Graber, Doris A. 1994. “The infotainment quotient in routine television news: A director’s perspective.” Discourse & Society. 5(4) (1994): 483-508.

Ide, Ichiro, and Hidehiko Tanaka. 1998. “Automatic semantic analysis of television news captions.” Proc. 3rd Intl. Workshop on Information Retrieval with Asian Languages.

Interviews and Personal Correspondences

Christou, Lefkos. Personal interview. 2010.

Milonas, Pavlos. Personal interview. 2010.

Psilos, Michalis. Personal interview. 2008.