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Understanding News by John Hartley

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7  A WINTER OF DISCONTENT

A good journalist – by training and instinct – has a gut feeling about objectivity and can find a way, via common sense rather than tortured hair-splitting semantics, through the objectivity-commitment minefield. One thing is certain: if he [sic] cannot, propaganda will soon take the place of genuine information.

Arnold Hadwin, editor of the Bradford Telegraph & Argus

(Hadwin 1980, p. 30)

In this chapter I propose, via ‘tortured hair-splitting semantics’ rather than ‘common sense’, to show how some of the issues raised so far can be seen in action. For this purpose I shall refer throughout to a BBC ‘Nine O’clock News’ by way of an extended example. How in practice do good journalists avoid propaganda, provide us with ...

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