被“福克斯化”的新闻业 | The Foxification of news

Posted on 15/07/2011

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A special report on the news industry: Impartiality

In the internet age, transparency may count for more than objectivity

新闻业的特别报道:奄奄一息的新闻公正性

在信息年代,信息的透明度似乎比信息的中立性来的更加重要

Jul 7th 2011 | from the print edition

ONE OF THE world’s most profitable news organisations is Fox News, an American cable-news channel that is part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. In 2010 it is thought to have made a profit of over $800m on revenues of $1.5 billion, according to SNL Kagan, a research firm—more than its rivals CNN and MSNBC put together. Fox was set up in 1996 by Roger Ailes, a former media adviser to three Republican presidents, specifically to appeal to conservative viewers. Its star hosts, such as Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, offer distinctively right-wing opinion and commentary, though the channel insists that its news reporting is unbiased. Fox is famous for being opinionated rather than for being profitable. Bill Shine, the number two at Fox News, thinks these two characteristics are related. “We offer opinions not seen anywhere else,” he says.

福克斯新闻频道(Fox News)是传媒大亨默多克旗下的美国众多有线电视中的一个,但它却也是全球最赚钱的新闻传媒之一。根据SNL Kagan统计公司的数据,在2010年福克斯新闻频道为默多克带来了至少8亿美元的利润和15亿美元的收入,这些数据甚至超过了它的竞争对手CNN和MSNBC的总和。福克斯频道在1996年由Roger Ailes所创立,他曾担任三届共和党领导人媒体顾问,福克斯新闻在立场上附和政治观点保守的观众。尽管福克斯新闻频道坚持自己在报道新闻的中立的立场,其有名的主持人包括Bill O’Reilly和Sean Hannity都在节目中孜孜不倦地表达出自己右派的政治评论。正因为如此坚持不懈的向大众传播其独特的并且所谓’中立’的新闻观点,而不是绞尽脑汁的从广告商口袋里赚取银子,福克斯也因此被更多观众所知晓。Bill Shine作为福克斯的第二大人物认为这两个方面在某种程度上相互联系着,并且他解释道:我们提供在别处看不到的观点和言论。

In a world where millions of new sources are emerging on the internet, consumers are overwhelmed with information and want to be told what it all means. Fox is not the only news organisation that is unafraid to say what it thinks and is prospering as a result. Other examples include Al Jazeera’s unabashed support for reform in the Arab world, Jon Stewart’s satirical take on the news in the “Daily Show”, Rush Limbaugh’s hugely popular conservative radio show or even The Economist. Perhaps significantly, MSNBC, which has lately been positioning itself to appeal to a left-wing crowd, is picking up viewers (see chart 5). “It’s not quite as political as what Fox does,” says Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, “but we definitely have a progressive sensibility, a sensibility to the left.”

在互联网瞬息万变的时代,各种信息以指数的速度被生产出来。人们都似乎被吓坏了,并且急切的想让新闻被解读成‘白话文’以便理解。福克斯并不是唯一的一个敢说敢做并因此发展起来的新闻媒体,半岛电视台便是另一个好的例子。无独有偶,John Stewart 在”Daily Show”上唾沫横飞的调侃时事政治,Rush Limbaugh在主持的电台节目上通过电波传播他自己早已过时的保守派的评论,甚至包括你正在阅读经济学人,等等,新闻产业不缺乏这样的例子。值得一提的是,在日前渐渐向左派倾斜的新闻媒体MSNBC正在稳步的发展自己的收视率,而他们所做的也是 – 说出自己说想的!MSNBC的总裁指出,MSNBC并没有像福克斯那么政治化,但是我们却绝对有更加理性的报道,一种偏左思想的理性。

CNN, meanwhile, continues to lose out to its more strident rivals, in prime time at least. Mr Griffin, himself a former CNN employee, reckons that the channel has failed to move with the times by favouring the “disinterested, at-arm’s-length anchor”. Mark Whitaker, CNN’s managing editor, disagrees. He says his (highly profitable) channel is known for “integrity and avoiding cheap opinion”, and for providing more global coverage than its rivals. “In this day and age you should have a point of view, but not necessarily one that’s rooted in knee-jerk ideology,” he says.

在各大电视台通过出位的评论谋取收视率的同时,有一个例外 – CNN电视台,根据统计数据,CNN甚至在自己的黄金时段把收视率慷慨地拱手让人。CNN安于现状,无心发掘言谈辛辣的主持人,一切都似乎让这个电视台与时代脱节。Mark Whitaker作为CNN的主管编辑却不同意这样的说法,他的(同时又是非常盈利的)电视台是因为提供负责任的,而不是廉价的观点而奠定下坚实的基础的。他同时说:“在当今社会,虽然胸怀一些见解和观点对于一个新闻频道的重要性是毋庸置疑的,但这些观点却不能和一些想当然的、没有经过缜密筛选的观点划上等号。”

The idea that journalists should be impartial in reporting news is a relatively recent one. “A lot of newspaper people treat it as one true religion, when it’s an artefact of a certain set of economic and historical circumstances,” says Joshua Benton of the Nieman Journalism Lab. America’s Founding Fathers nurtured a vibrant, fiercely partisan press with no licensing of newspapers or policing of content. During the 19th century newspapers gradually adopted a more objective stance, for several reasons. By appealing to a wider audience, they were able to increase their circulation and hence their advertising revenue. Consolidation, and the emergence of local newspaper monopolies, also promoted impartiality. “When you are the only paper in town, you can’t risk pissing off liberals by being too conservative, or vice versa,” says Mr Benton.

新闻工作者应该尽可能的公正地报道新闻这样的一个概念其实是最近才开始流行起来的。“很多的新闻工作者把它当作自己的一个信念,殊不知它其实是受一系列经济和历史原因所人为产生的附属品”,Nieman新闻工作室的Joshua Benton说。签署独立宣言和宪法的开国元勋们赋予了新闻媒体一种党派偏袒的天性,但这些媒体通常没有发行报纸的许可证和组织内容的政策。在19世纪,这些报纸媒体渐渐的因为各种原因而换上了公正报道的立场。正因为这样,他们能被更大范围的观众所接受,同时也间接的增加了发行量和广告收入。之后报章杂志的合并以及小范围的报业垄断让新闻公正的概念更进步的深入人心。Benton先生同时说道: “当你成为了小镇上唯一的一份报纸时,你就往往不能冒险让自己站在一个保守的立场从而冒犯了自由派的读者,相反则亦然。”

With the professionalisation of journalism in the early 20th century came a more detached style of reporting. In effect, a deal was struck between advertisers, publishers and journalists, says New York University’s Jay Rosen. Journalists agreed not to alienate anyone so that advertisers could aim their messages at everyone. That way the publishers got a broader market and the journalists got steady jobs but gave up their voices. Objectivity is “a grand bargain between all the different players”, says Mr Rosen. When radio and television emerged, America’s private broadcasters embraced impartiality in their news reporting to maximise their appeal to audiences and advertisers and avoid trouble with regulators.

在20世纪初期,随着新闻的专业化,这个行业迎来一种更加独立的报道风格。纽约大学的Jay Rosen指出,实际上,在广告商、发行人和记者这三个角色中出现一种利益的角逐。记者被要求避免孤立任何一类读者,这样广告商就能专递他们的广告信息 – 给各种潜在客户。这样,媒体能从广告商那里拿回更加慷慨的支票和更大的市场份额,记者们也在稳定的工作和丰厚的报酬前面渐渐失去了自己对于公正报道的追求。“保持新闻公正性从而成为了发行商、广告商和记者之间一份满意的契约”,Rosen先生如是说。当电台和电视融合后,美国私有的传播公司便更加的推崇这样一个新闻中立性的概念。对于他们来说,这是一条通向更多观众和广告收入的阳关大道,同时也提供了一个有效的方式化解与管理者的摩擦。

These days different countries have different preferences. In Europe overt partisanship in newspapers is widespread and state-run television channels often have partisan allegiances: Italy’s three state channels are each aligned with specific parties, for example. The political independence of the BBC in Britain is unusual, and is in any case contested by critics who complain that it is too left-leaning. In India 81 of the 500 satellite-TV channels that have sprung up in the past 20 years are news channels, most of them catering to specific political, religious, regional, linguistic or ethnic groups. Only a few take an objective, pan-Indian approach, says Daya Thussu of the University of Westminster.

当今在不同的国家有着不尽相同的媒体偏好。在欧洲大陆上,媒体的党派性不再是一个秘密,其已经广泛蔓延至各种报纸媒体和国营电视频道。比如说在意大利,国立的三大频道各自在自己的报道立场上偏向特定的组织。其实相对来说,英国广播公司(BBC)的政治独立性在这个行业里并不多见,并且它经常被指责过于倾向于左派观点。威斯敏斯特大学的Daya Thussu指出,在印度,500家卫星电视中的81家是在过去20年中成长起来的新兴电视媒体,他们中的大部分都在报道中偏向于特定的政治、宗教、地区、语言群体和民族。只有少数采用一种泛印度并且主观的角度报道事件。

If impartiality is already the exception rather than the rule, the internet is now eroding it further. In America it undermines local news monopolies by reducing advertising revenue and providing access to a wide range of alternative sources, thus undoing Mr Rosen’s grand bargain. In Britain and other countries where news broadcasters are required to be impartial, at least in theory, the convergence of television and the web makes such rules seem outdated. Mark Thompson, the director-general of the BBC, said at a seminar last December that he thought the case for polemical, opinionated news channels was “persuasive”, though the BBC’s own news coverage would remain impartial. The internet has also compressed the news cycle, with headlines delivered instantly by smartphone or Twitter, creating a demand for immediate analysis and opinion.

如果对新闻的公正性的追求已经成为了一个例外而不是一个既定的规矩,那么因特网的将会把这个行业与公正之间的距离拉得更远。在美国,互联网逐渐削弱传媒巨头的广告收入并且以其多元化的信息渠道削弱大众对传统媒体的依赖,从而越发模糊了上文所提出的“关于公正性的契约”。在被法律所规定需公正报道的事件的英国和其他国家,电视媒介和网络的融合让那些法律至少在理论上略显陈旧。英国广播公司的主管Mark Thompson在去年12月的一个公开讲座上提出:强调争辩、并且执着与己见的新兴频道其实是很“有说服力的”,但是英国广播公司自身不会采取这样的策略,而是继续以中立的姿态报道新闻。因特网同时也缩短了信息流通的周期,例如Twitter和智慧型手机的结合让新闻头条几乎能即时地被推送到用户的手中,从而创造了读者对新闻的即时解读和评论的需求。

Moreover, the internet makes it easier than ever to find and synthesise different views, says Krishna Bharat, the creator of Google News. The idea for the site occurred to him in the months after the attacks of September 11th 2001, when he became frustrated by the inefficiency of visiting lots of different websites to get a broader picture of the news. When news comes from multiple sources, a mix of strong opinions becomes more desirable. “It’s time to embrace the fact that certain news sources have a point of view, and that’s why they have the following they do,” says Mr Bharat. “I think there’s a place for all of them.” By undermining many of the traditional arguments for objectivity, the internet may thus cause a wider “Foxification” of news and a return to the more opinionated and partisan media landscape of the 18th and early 19th centuries. “Almost every country that has an open society is going to have some kind of opinion television programming,” says Mr Shine.

谷歌新闻的创始者Krishna Bharat更进一步的指出,因特网简化了寻找并且综合不同信息的过程。谷歌新闻是在911恐怖袭击发生之后所产生出的一个新概念。那时Krishna发现如果读者主动的去访问不同网站以取得全面的了解的话,效率会大大下降。当消息来自四面八方时,将各个角度典型的报道综合起来呈现,将会是对读者非常有吸引力的。Bherat先生说:“现在是时候去承认每个新闻报道都有自己的侧重角度,而这就是他们彼此追随的原因。我认为需要有这样一个平台,能够把每种报道的角度都呈现出来”。正因为因特网削弱了很多关于公正性的传统的辩论,它也许将会把整个新闻业推向被“福克斯化”的风口浪尖,并且促使这个行业回归其在18世纪和19世纪初的党派偏袒的天性。“几乎每一个拥有开明的社会的国家都将会有一些持不同见解的电视频道,”Shine先生说到。

This does not mean that all news organisations should take overtly political positions. Mr Rosen is just one of many media watchers who think it is time to release journalists from the straitjacket of pretending that they do not have opinions—what he calls the “view from nowhere”. Journalists signal their impartiality by quoting people on opposing sides of an argument and avoid drawing conclusions, even when the facts are clear. “There have been times in the past when CNN has been criticised for being neutral—not only non-partisan, but not really having positions,” says Mr Whitaker. But lately, he says, “we have been stronger in taking a point of view when we think it is supported by our reporting and by facts.”

但是这也并不等于所有的新闻机构需要选择一个公开的政治立场。很多学者认为现在是时候让新闻记者卸下那层阻止他们阐述意见的紧身衣了,而Rosen先生就是其中的一人。新闻记者往往通过引用持争辩对立面观点的人的话以及避免作出结论来象征自己对新闻公正性的尊敬 – 即便是当事实非常清楚的状况,这样的引用显得多此一举。“过去曾经有一段时间CNN因为其报道的中立性(不仅仅是没有了党派性,而甚至是平庸到没有任何立场可言)而受到批评”,Whitaker先生说。不过最近,他指出,“对于那些被报道所支撑的抑或是我们认为是事实的观点,我们(作为新闻记者)变得更加勇于去直面的表达出来。”

Transparency is the new objectivity

透明度即新的公正性

One way forward, suggests Mr Rosen, is to abandon the ideology of viewlessness and accept that journalists have a range of views; to be open about them while holding the reporters to a basic standard of accuracy, fairness and intellectual honesty; and to use transparency, rather than objectivity, as the new foundation on which to build trust with the audience. He cites the memorable phrase coined by David Weinberger, a technology commentator, that “transparency is the new objectivity”. In part, this involves journalists providing information about themselves. For example, on AllThingsD, a technology-news site owned by Dow Jones, all the journalists provide an “ethics statement” with information about their shareholdings, financial relationships and, in some cases, their personal life (two journalists are married to employees at large technology companies). “People are more likely to trust you if they know where you are coming from,” says Mr Rosen.

Rosen先生指出,我们需要抛弃新闻记者不能持有观点这样的一个意识形态,事实上,这一个群体有着更加丰富的观点;我们需要更加开明的对待这样的一个观点,同时也要要求报道者予以准确、公正、理智的报道;我们应把新闻的透明度(而不是新闻的公正性)作为建立社会公信度的地基。他同时引用科技评论员David Weinberger笔下有名的句子:“透明度即新的公正性”。其中这牵涉到要求新闻记者提供更多关于他们自身的信息。比如在一个道琼斯旗下的科技网站“AllthingsD”,所有的新闻记者被要求提供一份“道德声明”,这份声明中包含其所拥有的公司股份,财务关系,甚至在某些情况下包括他们的个人生活(两位新闻记者与知名科技公司的职员结婚)。如果读者知道某些消息的来源及作者,那么他们会更可能的会相信这些消息的真实性。

Transparency also means linking to sources and data, something the web makes easy. Bloggers have long used the technique to back up their views. Ezra Klein, a blogger at the Washington Posthas suggested that news organisations should publish full transcripts of interviews online. WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, a fan of radical transparency if ever there was one, makes a similar argument. “You can’t publish a paper on physics without the full experimental data and results. That should be the standard in journalism,” he said last year. Mr Weinberger has observed on his blog that transparency prospers in a linked medium: “Objectivity is a trust mechanism you rely on when your medium can’t do links. Now our medium can.”

新闻的透明度同时意味着在消息来源和数据之间建立跟紧密的联系,而网络让这一切不再繁琐。事实上,一些博客的作者已经很早就开始使用这样的方式来让自己的观点跟可靠。华盛顿邮报的一位作者Ezra Klein建议所有的新闻机构应该把报道所涉及的采访原文发表出来。维基解密的创始人Julian Assange(一位狂热的新闻透明度的支持者)曾经提出过相似的建议。“你不可能在没有实验数据和结果的情况下就发表一篇物理学的论文,同样的,这个标准应该同时适用于整个新闻业”,Assange在去年这样说过。Weinberger也在他的博客上表达了他对新闻透明度的看法:“公正性仅仅是当媒介不能互相连接时的公信机制。但现在媒介都能相互连接了”。

- 译者 Zehai PENG

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