In the contemporary world mass media play an extremely important role. In fact nowadays mass media have become the main source of information for practically all people throughout the world and they provide information in different fields and involve possibly larger audience. At the same time it is necessary to underline that information that mass media provide for wide audience gradually becomes a product for sale and not just pure information as it has been traditionally understood before. This is why it is vitally important that media remain objective in their news issues and in provided people with truthful information that are discussed and analyzed in this or that media.
In such a situation it is quite interesting to compare and contrast two different media which actually are quite different at the first glance but still have some common features that, in fact, typical and symbolic for the development of contemporary mass media. Basically, two media the BBC and the Wall Street Journal will be in the focus of attention of this paper, as probably the most recognizable and popular international media.
Similarities between the BBC and the Wall Street Journal
At first glance, it seems that there can be nothing in common between such media giants as the BBC and the Wall Street Journal but in actuality there are some similar features in both of them. First of all it should be said that both the BBC and the Wall Street Journal position themselves and actually are positioned by specialists as conservative media. It means that their news coverage is conservative and is deprived of the innovations which could be unusual or even shocking for a viewer or a reader characterized by traditionalists views. For instance, the Wall Street Journal is traditionally believed that it takes a conservative of economic issues and a conservative or neo-conservative view of foreign policy issue (Parker 2001:255).
However, such a conservative characteristic of the media can have a dubious effect since, on the one hand, their conservatism attract conservative part of the audience and make the news presentation more persuasive and worthy to believe. On the other hand, a liberal part of the audience can be really tired of the BBC and the Wall Street Journal conservatism and in this light both media can be often criticized and accused in the lack of objectivity.
Furthermore, both media are international that naturally influences the news coverage. At this respect it should be said that they pay a lot of attention to the international news and the current situation in the world but often the interpretation of the events, regardless the sphere where the news come from, may differ in interpretation but it will be discussed a bit further when the differences between the media will be analyzed.
Furthermore, both media can be characterized by high level of completeness of analysis of the issues, notably both media tend to view the news issues from different angles but still it is difficult to speak about an absolutely objective representation of news, if such is possible at all. Nonetheless, the information both media provide for their audience can be characterized as complete though a certain degree of subjectivity is present, or at least there are some cases where there is some criticism as for the coverage of some news issues by the BBC or the Wall Street Journal. For instance, Lord Hutton, charged with investigating the death of British weapons expert David Kelly, ruled that Kelly had committed suicide and found BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan’s allegations that the government had exaggerated the imminent danger posed by Saddam Hussein’s regime unfounded’. He declared the BBC’s editorial system defective for allowing Gilligan to broadcast his accusations in the first place and then failing to give the government’s complaints full consideration (Gilder 2004:429). The Wall Street Journal is also criticized in the similar way. Naturally such critique does not add credibility to the news issues of both the BBC and the Wall Street Journal.
Differences between the BBC and the Wall Street Journal
Naturally, it will be quite strange to estimate that there are only similarities between the BBC and the Wall Street Journal. In fact it should be said that there are a lot of differences between the media discussed and some details are not very important, such as the fact that the BBC is British and the Wall Street Journal is American media, or that
The Wall Street Journal pays more attention to financial and business news, or that they are simply different type of media, i.e. the BBC is a broadcasting media while the Wall Street Journal belongs to press, and others. But what is really important is the fact that the BBC is basically state media, or it may be called a public media but it is basically financed by the state while the Wall Street Journal is independent at this respect. Consequently it would be logical to presuppose that the views presented by the BBC would be rather influenced by the current governmental position while the position of the Wall Street Journal would be more independent.
However, in actuality, it turns to be that the BBC is traditionally believed to be politically independent and deprived of any sort of influence from outside, especially from the part of the government. This belief, being to a certain extent a stereotype, is strongly supported by numerous evidences that reveal that the BBC is not a means of propaganda of the state policy, in stark contrast, it often criticized and still criticizes the government. Not surprisingly that the BBC is regularly accused by the government of the day of bias in favor of the opposition, and, by the opposition, of bias in favor of the government (Briggs 1995:321).
As for the Wall Street Journal, it is, on the contrary, characterized by its political preferences in favor of the Republican Party that naturally discredits the media and makes the audience to doubt in its objectivity that produce the general impact on the representation of news that leads to the domination of conservative views, especially in political news issues, or the view which are similar to those of the Republican Party.
At the same time, it should be pointed out that unlike the BBC, which is considered to be conservative in all news issues, the Wall Street Journal, being also quite conservative, nonetheless takes a very liberal view in some social issues, notably immigration (Parker 2001:294). In such a way the coverage of the news by the BBC and the Wall Street Journal may differ under the influence of political dependence or independence and the conservative or liberal character of the media.
At this respect, it should be pointed out that the BBC can be also politically influenced through appointments to its Board of Governors and by threats to change the license fee. Nonetheless such political influence is less obvious in the BBC than in the Wall Street Journal.
Thus, taking into consideration all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the two media discussed, being among the most widely spread and well-known in the world, have both similarities and differences that influence the degree of credibility of their news issues. At this respect the BBC seems to be more objective than the Wall Street Journal, especially in political issues, but, at the same time, none of the media discussed is absolutely objective that is actually typical practically for all media and there is no remedy against it but a critical evaluation of the information that are received from mass media.