The Bennett Model’s neutral tone

Veiling the Reporter The Bennett Model’s neutral tone resulted in impersonal journalism. The role of the reporter was so suppressed that news came across as almost robotic. Until the late 1900s, bylines were a rarity. Writing in the first-person (I or me) was forbidden. The idea was to keep the reporter’s role in the story as invisible as possible. The deliberate anonymity of the journalist obscured the reality that news work is a highly cerebral process, thus wrought with subjectivity.

In contrast, news models elsewhere have been far different. In London, the Manchester Guardian, founded in 1821 (now shortened to the Guardian), has a long tradition of encouraging reporters to apply their expertise and observations overtly in their work. Truth-seeking at the Guardian is fact-based, but there is no cloak of impartiality. The same is true at the Daily Telegraph, founded in 1855, and at other leading British and European papers.

6.2.3 Bennett Model Flaws 1. Objective: Summarize the flaws of the Bennett model

The Bennett Model remains quite valid for chronicling events, but it is not without flaws. The almost exclusive focus on events can mean missing significant truths that merit reporting. In addition, the fixation on events has proved inadequate for spotting trends until it is too late to head off major societal problems and crises. The Bennett Model can leave the news media vulnerable to partisanship and other manipulation.

Flaws of the Bennett Model The Bennett Model, while good in theory, can (and has) led to problems with reporting, either with regard to the integrity of the story, or the ethics of the reporting process.

Review the flaws of the Bennett Model by clicking each heading below.

Superficiality and Deadline Haste With the Bennett Model, and its focus on speed and efficiency, reporting was frequently superficial. Reporters opted for easy stories with facts that were readily available. Complex stories requiring investigative journalism to dig up to hard-to-find facts were often set aside because of deadline-driven priorities.

Consider a story on an oil refinery fire. A journalist could cover the fire in a simplistic way—how the fire was reported to have started, any injuries, how long it took to be extinguished. Or, the journalist could dig deeper, engaging in investigative reporting by locating the safety record of the company that operated the refinery. A safety record story could be more important than a story on the fire itself, especially if the company has several refineries. But a story on the safety record would require considerable time, especially if the company created intentional obstacles to accessing the information. For some journalists, it was easier to win prominent display of their work by racing after the next breaking story. In turn, news packagers—the people who assemble front pages, newscasts, and Internet news pages—reward photogenic stories like fires and play them big, as opposed to than less visually gripping issues like follow-up studies on safety violations.

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