History of the media 1

A blog by @mircwalsh

History of the media 1

For this assignment I chose two topics which are related in that they cover the same type of story. I choose my earlier pre 1925 story first. Choosing this one was not as difficult as I thought it would have been I went to the library and after looking through an early copy of the Cork constitution (Jan-March 1922) I came across this story. I found many stories such as rail strikes and murders which I could relate to a recent story. However these stories did not interest me too much. Then I came across the story of the kidnapping of Times Correspondent Mr Kay. This story interested me because in recent years there have been a lot of journalists kidnapped for political reasons and it is for similar reasons that the Times correspondent was kidnapped. Also in wanting to pursue a career in journalism this story was of more interest to me than other stories such as a tailors strike which is a career that doesn’t interest at all. Choosing the more recent story was also quite easy. I was aware of the many kidnaps of journalists that have taken place in recent years, with last years kidnap and murder of Russian Journalist Anna Politkovskaya coming to mind. For this reason I knew it would be easy enough to find a recent story. After a short search I came across the story of Daniele Mastrogiacomo who was kidnapped by the Taliban. Because this only took place in recent weeks I choose this story to compare to my earlier 1922 story.

For the earlier story I choose the kidnap of Times correspondent Mr Kay. I first came across this story while looking at the Cork Constitution for the 6th January 1922. This first coverage of the story was very good and gave a detailed description of the kidnapping and the events surrounding this incident. The following is taken from this article. “Three men , who were armed with revolvers , entered the room, and one of them asked – “Is Kay here” Mr Kay – replied – “I am Kay” One of the armed men then said to Kay – “do you understand there is  a car outside and you got to come on it?” (Cork Constitution Friday 6th January 1922). While there was no technology such as television at this time the reporting of this incident was good and the description of the kidnap was good enough to visually imagine the incident taking place.

This story continued to be covered during the following days up until the release of Mr Kay. After his release there was a final short report on his well being and then the coverage of the story disappeared from the papers. The following was taken from the Cork Examiner on the 13th January 1922. “Dublin, Friday Mr Kay the correspondent of the London Times arrived in Dublin by motorcar at 1.30 today having being released at Cork last night none the worse for his experience.” (Cork Examiner Friday 13th January 1922). Again this article gives a detailed account of the event.

I believe that considering that this event took place before modern technology such as the internet and television it was very well covered. I found coverage of this incident in The Cork Examiner, The Freeman’s Journal and in The Cork Constitution. Each of these papers provided detailed coverage of the kidnapping. This said I doubt that the event was covered outside of Ireland. Considering it was a London Correspondent it may have been covered in the UK. Unfortunately I don’t have any evidence to prove this. While the event was covered well at the time I think that there would have been more coverage if the event was to take place today. Technology has greatly influenced the media coverage of incidents such as this. Below I have a list and descriptions of many recent developments in media coverage which affect how my recent story is covered and also highlights the difference that the lack of these resources made on the coverage of the earlier 1922 incident.

Now stories are covered on the internet with live updates readily available as they take place. In the case of television there are regular news programmes providing up to date coverage on the event. In the case of RTE/Tv3 there is also Aertel Teletext which provides updates throughout the day so that you don’t have to wait for the news to be broadcasted. Sky news also provides a similar service and also gives video updates through the “Press the red button” feature. Sky news also gives newsflashes and in certain events i.e. The death of the queen/ the death of the pope… Sky news can put a scrolling newsflash across the bottom of the screen which will appear on every sky digital channel and not just the news channel. Of course this feature probably would not be used for the kidnap of a journalist as it would not been considered as important as say the death of the queen but it is an extra service that is available if the need for it to be used arises. News stations also have news reporters who they can send to the desired country so that they can provide live coverage of an event as it/after it happens. Also members of the public can send in pictures and video footage that they have taken and it can be used if needed.

The internet is also a good source for news. It provides images, videos and regular live updates. It is also a good source as you can find media coverage of stories from any country in the world. You can also view the leading stories of papers from any other country. Mobile phones also have access to the internet which is a good way of keeping up-to-date even if you don’t have access to radio or television. Radio is also a good way to provide live news updates with radio stations such as 96fm providing hourly news programmes and updates are provided at certain intervals throughout the hour. Most mobile phones and mp3 players also have built in radios so like the internet, radio access is now readily available.

If all of these types of media coverage were available when this 1922 story was being covered I believe that the story would have been made into a bigger story. While I don’t know how big the story was at the time and I am not aware as to the publics reaction to the story at the time I think that if there was more of a coverage then more people would have known about the incident. RTE news could cover the story and give a profile picture of the reporter just like the newspapers could spread a picture of the reporter across their front page. This is something which I noticed from the older papers I looked through in that they never had any pictures and the pages were packed full of stories so no one story stood out. The public could also be informed on some history of the reporter, articles he had written etc. There could also be comments from co-workers, they could appear in vox pop style in a newspaper article or in person on a news program. Also if a video of the kidnapped journalist was released by the kidnappers which has been the case in many recent kidnappings then it could be shown on television.

These are just some of the ways that the story would be covered differently. I think the main difference that modern coverage would make to the incident is that it would be more widely covered.

In the case of my recent story I think that the main difference if it was to happen back in 1922 would be the lack of coverage. This story involved an Italian Journalist kidnapped by the Taliban. This is in itself a very prominent and important international story but with the lack of resources such as the television back in 1922 I think that if the incident occurred at this time that people in Ireland would probably not hear about it. It would be covered in Italy for obvious reasons in that it concerned an Italian journalist but I don’t really think that it would be covered any where else in the world. The only way that it might have been heard about in Ireland is perhaps by word of mouth. By someone who was visiting Italy who heard about it and came back to Ireland and told people but even at that word of mouth only travels so far and it is unlikely it would influence any newspaper coverage. Modern technology is what makes stories what they are. Without all the resources which I have already covered and explained most stories would not make the papers. Also if this incident took place in 1922 and happened to be reported by the papers it would be considered less important than local or national stories and readers probably wouldn’t wait until the next day for an update. With television you only have to wait a few hours at most and you are updated if anything happens. It is a way to keep people interested in the story. Internet was also very important in the reporting of this story when I was looking up information on this I was able to look at the reporting of the story from the point of view of several newspapers and news stations from The Irish Examiner to CBS and even to the Kuwait News Agency. In 1922 the resources would not have been available to do this.

I have explained my reasons for choosing these two stories. I have also looked at the many different media resources available for the reporting of news stories; I believe that these resources alone show the how much media reporting has changed. I have looked at how the 1922 abduction of Mr Kay would be reported differently if it were to happen today and how the recent kidnapping of Italian Journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo would be reported if it were to happen back in 1922. These two incidents have highlighted for me the importance of all the media resources we have today and how much they are used to cover a story.