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Bennett News model is a renowned model adopted by news publication companies as a framework for coverage and reporting news and events. James Gordon Bennett, the founder of New York Herald, established this model thus enabling him to gain an advantage over his competitors (Bennett, 2004). This model emphasizes and focuses on event-based reporting with significant consideration on compelling events, deadline, neutrality and objectivity. Antilla (2008) claims that the “Bennett News Model follows a framework of just the facts, fact-orientation, emphasis on timeliness and deadline driven concept” (p. 48).
The news entailed in the publications are defined and categorized in details, relevant interviews, quotes and other various sources. The model has incorporated division of labor concept where news reporters specialize in certain reporting areas. In the context of news beats, news reporters are designated specific disciplines or subjects to cover and report as their specialty (Anas, 2013). The use of fast communication media and deadline-driven concept in this model has satiated consumers and readers with fast reporting and dispatching of breaking news. The model’s objectivity is to attract readers from a wide population by minimizing opinionated contents to only editorial sections, increasing storytelling and neutral coverage of events.
Gulf News publication is the most popular English newspaper in UAE among the western expatriates. This Newspaper publishing entity mainly focuses on business related news and stories. It also strives to increase its publications circulation and penetration to maximize advertisement revenues. Gulf News in the past has focused on establishing layout and graphic designs in its publication to increase circulation. Gulf News quality of journalism is notably dictated by the need to publish specific content that does not threaten loss of advertisement revenue (Anas, 2013). Advertisers dictate what reporters should cover and publish with reporters working under the supervision of censors. The published political news is mainly limited to reporting formulaic accounts of politicians mainly travel and meetings.
Gulf News management argues that the role of its publication is to report merely on official facts without investigating or interpreting further arguing that newspapers cannot be self-styled guardians, and their primary role is to inform. Most UAE newspapers have a similar style of economic self-censorship relying on advertising. Gulf News newspaper has published investigative reports on public and environmental safety but they have shied away from asking critical questions (Sharma, 2009).
Critique of Bennett News Model
In-depth examination and exploration of Bennett News Model there are notable limitations and challenges regarding practicality, responsibility, and effectiveness of implementing this news model. Newspaper publications such as Gulf News and others have faced sharp critic on the adoption of this model in covering and reporting events and news. Bennett news model undermines journalist’s freedom, professionalism and to some extent ethical responsibility in covering, reporting and publishing news and events (Bennett, 2004). Bennett model is characterized by superficial coverage and reporting of facts and information.
Newspaper publications such as Gulf News and Khaleej Times adopts Bennett News model have their news and publications characterized with easy common stories that are apparent and readily available. This model operates on deadline-oriented priorities, and reporters are limited to easily available stories because analytical and hard stories are lost out due to the deadline haste. Another notable limitation of Bennett News Model is the adverse effect of deadline pressure on quality journalism coverage and reporting (Holbert, Garrett, & Gleason 2010).
The quality of newspapers publications is adversely affected by the Bennett News Model framework priorities of mass production, deadline compliance, and circulation. Sometimes Gulf News newspaper has been associated with poor quality reporting of their news and advertisement attributed to the overemphasis on increased circulation and advertisement content. With Bennett News Model, the concept of quality assurance management in news and event coverage among newspaper entities is significantly ignored and blinded with the focus on generating content advertisement revenue.
Poor quality assurance and management in the context of media contravene globally accepted journalism coverage and reporting standards (Holbert et al., 2010). Bennett News Model adopts a facts-only style in reporting and covering events, and this entrenched style makes newspaper publication dull and in the long-run the readers might lose interest in such publications. The fact only style adopted by Gulf News reporters especially on the political news may result in low circulation and purchase of their publication among their existing readers. Bennett News Model does not allow trend analysis of media coverage of events. Media trend analysis is an integral part of any media events coverage contributing significantly to historical analysis of events.
Overemphasis and focus on events hinders and undermines key vital and significant historical event documentation at Gulf News and other newspaper business entities (Sharma, 2009). Bennett news model undermines reporters from asking critical questions in their fact-finding coverage. Reporters cannot ask critical questions the authorities and political personalities since they consider it a waste of time and the need to cover new stories. Media houses ascribing to Bennett News Models have their event coverage and reporting manipulated easily. Under this model, reporters and editors have little or no concern about the reliability and biases of the obtained information or events covered with an excuse that their role is only to inform.
Bennett News Model in its framework adoption mainly focuses on covering and reporting events taking place within a set deadline. Reporters put great emphasis on timely coverage, fact-oriented priority and dispatching such news with no analysis. Newspaper publication companies adopt this model to increase circulation and advertisement revenue. News beats are common with each reporter covering a specific area. Its framework is deadline-driven characterized with opinion displacing and journalist engages in neutral coverage, non-investigative reporting, and the dispatched news are largely reactive. Gulf News operates in UAE media environment where English newspapers present a lucrative opportunity. Gulf News focuses on contents that increase advertising revenue, and this focus notably dictates contents reported and published. Investigative reports are largely ignored; there is less emphasis on the political news; there is no in-depth critical analysis of events covered; no asking of critical questions and no questioning of authorities. Gulf News only considers their role as to the only report and inform about the events.
Bennet News Model has some limitation and hindrance to the realization of journalism news reporting full potential. Criticism of Bennett News Model surrounds its framework provision of shallow reporting, adverse deadline haste consequences and readers losing interest in the long-run. Other limitations include easy manipulation of news published and reported, lack of historical or event analysis and limitations of asking critical questions. Therefore, Bennett News Model raises controversy in democratic media environments where publication owners take responsibility on what they cover, report and circulate to the public.
Anas, O. (2013). The Changing Profile of Media in the Arab States. Global Media Journal, 2(1- 2), 28-46.
Antilla, L. (2008). Self-censorship and science: a geographical review of media coverage of climate tipping points. Public Understanding of Science. 10(2), 45-60.
Bennett, W. L. (2004). Gatekeeping and press-government relations: A multigated model of news construction. Handbook of political communication research, 283-314.
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Holbert, R. L., Garrett, R. K., & Gleason, L. S. (2010). A new era of minimal effects? A response to Bennett and Iyengar. Journal of Communication, 60(1), 15-34.
Sharma, S. K. (2009). Critical Media Analysis: Comparative Study of Print Media in Oman and UAE. Global Media Journal, 21(2), 12-19.