News Agencies Creates a World View
A recent article on the Web that a judge has temporarily put on hold due to the new moratorium ordered by the state’s highest court has drawn widespread attention online. The article was about a new drug for Alzheimer’s disease that have shown some promise in trials but has yet to gain approval from the FDA. In the article, the author talks about the unusual way the drug was approved, and why it is being held up. There have been many recent examples of drugs being held up in the medical process for one reason or another.
Here’s the interesting part of this article: The reporter is talking about how the lack of FDA approval meant that there was a risk that the new drug would never get tested in humans. In the article, the reporter tells of a case where the FDA put a hold on a drug meant for a paralyzed man who wants to walk again. That drug had been under clinical trials for years, but the testing had been held up because of concerns about the drug’s risks. This case raises a question about the news media’s reporting of such events: Are they too focused on the human interest and too subjective to offer any objective viewpoint? (The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article about this very issue.)
One of the things that I’ve noticed over the last decade is a tendency among news reporters to describe what they are seeing as “life-changing” events, even though in many cases it is just a change of one form or another. Take, for example, the recent advances in medical care for young patients with cancer who are living with breast and ovarian cancer. In this particular case, it is clear to see that the news media is more concerned about the story than the patient. But does this trend in reporting reflect broader trends in society?
As we have seen, both the patient and the news agencies themselves have become more cautious about expressing an opinion or taking a position on any given subject. In order to get views and information from different sources, the media needs to choose the right sources. This makes it much more difficult to objectively describe what is happening, but it can also make it easier for the news services to present a variety of perspectives and allow audiences to draw their own conclusions based on fact and not on speculation or hearsay.
There is no simple solution to the problem of a Variety writer covering many languages speaking people in many different societies. One solution might be to select a single news agency and have them cover the various regions of the world, although this would present problems for writers. Another solution might be to develop translation systems for providing ready-to-read text in foreign languages, but again this presents problems for translators and news agencies. A third solution is to provide news services tailored to particular languages. The news agencies that cater to the Spanish speaking market for example, would obviously have to concentrate on Spanish speaking countries, while news agencies serving the English speaking market would not need to do so.
The diversity of voices that make up the news industry has been made possible through technological improvements. Computer mediated equipment, the Internet, and online distribution capabilities have all made it much easier to provide news services to clients around the world. But it is news agencies like Agence France-presse that really shape the way news is covered and distributed. Agence France-Presse concentrates on European news and events, especially French news. But they do cover international events and the information provided would benefit from being available to readers from other countries as well.