Essay on the Situation of Press in the Various Countries after the Second World War

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USSR

The mass media in Russia which is a communist country is directly run by the government. The newspapers, the radio, the T. V. and the cinema are all the monopoly of the State. The main objective of the media is to boost the State propaganda and wash-brain the citizens about the good points of the socialist system existing there.

The Soviet media have developed rapidly providing full penetration at all social levels. The media have accomplished their task of indoctrinating the citizens to safer limits so much so that any outside influences are now ineffective.

One of the reasons for the success of the Soviet media is that the standard of living of the people has been gradually raised step by step and most of the citizens now enjoy a good number of amenities which modern science offers. Thus, what the media claim for the country has been duly achieved practically in different walks of social life.

Today the Soviet Society and its main communication system are more open, more enquiring and less motivated by the terror as they were originally. The reason is that the ideological conviction among the people has come to stay and people on the- whole are now less responsive to western propaganda against communism.

Also, the socialist governments among the Western European countries have more or less abandoned serious attacks on the ideological and organisational systems of the Soviet Union.

The era of co-existence between differing systems of society-political and economic-has brought a more favourable climate for the continuance of the ideolo­gical stance of respective governments. Because of the achievements in the economic field, both in advanced western countries of Europe and America and within the Soviet Union, the ideological conflict has lost its vigour.

China

In the case of China the changes have not been so profound, although the Chinesse initially showed the desire to adopt Russian methods to Chinese society. Subsequent differences between China and Russia over the form of communism in the two countries has necessitated different techniques being used in China. There is greater element of persuasion, coercion and even terror, as a manipu­lative instrument.

Public opinion in China has not stabilised itself to the point of coming out of danger. Foreign influences, cultural and ideological, continue to penetrate into parts of China. In China the regime does not tolerate oppositional media nor oppositional thought. No wonder mass communication is the monopoly of the regime but not so far of the people. The function of the media is primarily persuasion through monopolistic manipulation by the authorities.

However. China is also now mildening its propagandist approach and opening itself bit by bit to outside influences, although internally the mass media including the press is still the monopoly of the State and there is not much scope for any opposition to the authorities that be.

Australia

A comprehensive and independent media embracing press, radio, television, films and publishing both reflect and help to shape contemporary Australian society. Free speech and freedom of the press are established values in Australia. General censorship has been invoked only under the emergency regulations of wartime and then with the active cooperation of the media.

Government regulations concerning the media are confined to matters such as standards governing the proportion of advertising in commercial radio and television programme, the classification of films and television programmes to indicate their suitability or otherwise for juvenile audiences, or prescribing the proportion of local content in broadcasting so as to guarantee a reflection of the Australian way of life and employment opportunities for Australian producers, writers, artists and others dependent on the industry. Australia has a national Minister for the Media.

The portfolio and the accompaying Depart­ment of the Media were established to coordinate all government responsibilities in media and bring forward cohesive policies for orderly development.

The Australian Government considered that the media should be accorded the same recognition as other areas of social importance such as housing and educationv In radio and television, the Australin Government provides operating revenue for the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), which has a national (non-commercial) radio and television network. The ABC is a statutory agency with built-in safeguards in its character to pre­vent political interference and guarantee its independence. The ABC co-exists with privately owned commercial broadcasting stations to provide diversity and choice.

There is no government involvement in newspaper publishing. There is however extensive government publishing in other areas which ranges from official documents for Parliament to the produc­tion of quality books about aspects of Australia which are sold to the public.

Australia has an open door policy to ideas from abroad, and imported material including books, films, magazines, music, and radio and television programmes, forms a significant part of Austra­lia's media content.

Newspapers : Australia has an active metropolitan and country press of about 600 newspapers ranging from small four-page weeklies serving rural population to 19 major dailies. Capital city newspaper circulations, in proportion to population, are among the highest in the world, the radio being more than 500 copies a thousand people. Papers in Sydney and Melbourne have more than two-thirds of the total circulation of the capital city dailies.

The Sun News-Pictorial, Melbourne, tops circulation figures, with an average net circulation (September 1947) of 648,653, followed by the Herald, also of Melbourne, with 483,637. In Sydney, the Daily Telegraph has an average circulation of 332,484, the Sydney Morning Herald 272,404, the Sun, 365,843 and the Daily Mirror, 370,732.

Problems and costs of transport due to Australia's vast dis­tances mean relatively few of the metropolitan dailies are distributed outside the States in which they are published. One exception is the national daily, The Australian, which began publishing in 1964. It is printed in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane simultaneously and is on sale early in Canberra. Adelaide, Hobart and Perth weekly news­papers, particularly metropolitan Sunday newspapers, enjoy wide

readership. Australia's newspaper history began in 1803 when the Government printer, George Howe, produced the four-page Sydney Gazette. Official policy, activities and requirements were reflected in its content.

The first independent newspaper, The Australian, appeard in 1824, and had a life of 26 years, the news being revived 140 years later for today's national daily. The oldest surviving newspapers are the Sydney Morning Herald, founded in 1831 as the Sidney Herald, the Herald, Melbourne, 1840, the Geelong Advertiser, Geelong, Victoria, 1840; the Examiner, Launceston, Tasmania, 1842, and the Maitland Mercury, New South Wales, 1843.

Australian newspapers are free to point anything they choose with the bounds of laws of libel designed to prevent unrestrained prying into personal affairs and defamation of character, and subject to certain requirements covering the reporting of and comment upon judicial processes. These are intended to preserve the authority of the rights of the courts and the rights of litigants, especially accused persons, to avoid trial by newspaper.

Laws concerned with defamation, contempt of court and related issues vary from State to State. Generally, however, the most important defence a newspaper can put forward against a libel suit is that the alleged libel was the truth and published for the public benefit. . A newspaper also may offer fair comment as a defence when, for instance, a public institution has been criticised. Privilege is another defence against a charge of defamation, reports of Parliamentary and cnurt proceedings, for example, being non- actionable though they may contain statements which otherwise would be libellous.

Most Australian metropolitan newspapers maintain offices in London and New York and some also have full or part-time correspondents in Paris, Rome, Washington, Singapore, Jakarta, New Delhi, Hong lCong and Tokyo-All the principal city newspapers are represented in the Federal Parlimentary Press Gallery in Canberra. Most city newspapers employ correspondents in country areas on a retainer basis where they are usually members of the staffs of country newspapers.

Most capital city dailies sell about 60 per cent of their space to advertisers, though the same varies. Advertising raters also vary, but range from about $2 to $,6.50 per column centimetre for the major metropolitan dailies of Sydney and Melbourne. Copies of most dailies sell for about eight cents with weeklies ranging from around 10 cents to about 45 cents.

A concentration of ownership has been a feature of the news­paper industry in Australia in recent times. In 1930 no less than 17'
proprietors publisned 21 capital city dailies. Today three major chains have a dominant place, between them holding a controlling interest in most of the 17 capital city dailies now published. Each of the chains also has other publishing interests and investments in television and other media.

About 375 of Australia's newspapers are published outside the capitals. Many are small weeklies and bi-weeklies of purely local interest and almost invariably issued from a local printing establish­ment. However, most towns with a population of 10,000 or more have their own daily newspaper and some have two. The largest provincial newspaper is the Newcastle Morning Herald which is published in Newcastle, New South Wales, and has a daily circula­tion exceeding 64,000. The local newspaper usually has an impor­tant place in the life of a country town and district.

It often leads movements for local amenities and serves as an advertising and publicity medium for local government and other bodies and local businesses. The number of country papers has been dwindling since 1920.

There have been many amalgamations and fewer country centres now support two papers. Circulations range from several hundred to more than 8,000 in the case of paid newspapers and upto 30,000 in the case of free newspaper, which depend solely on adverti­sing revenue. Unlike the large city dailies controlled by public companies, most country papers are privately owned. About 150 suburban newspapers are published in Australia.

Like country newspapers, most depend on local interest for their appeal. Quality and size varies, but some papers in the bigger cities produce weekly tabloids of more than 100 papers and employ sophisticated printing techniques and high standards of journalism. Most suburban news­papers are distributed free and depend on advertising for revenue.

Most are published by public companies and many are part of extensive chains, often producing a number of papers for different suburban areas from the one production plant. Some of the chains are associated with companies producing metropolitan dailies.

Periodicals : Australia has a flourishing periodical press, ranging from the high circulation (more than 833,000 copies a week) Australian Women's Weekly and other nationally-distributed magazines to small specialized journals published at intervals of upto a year.

A wide variety of interests is catered for and many organisations have printed journals. Subjects include trade, sports, films, teenage and women's interests, motoring, religion, science, homes and gardens, literature, music and television. Most of the large newspaper companies"publish magazines. Many periodicals are a part of the foreign language press which is increasing in volume and circulation.

News-agencies : Most overseas press agencies are represented in Australia but the leading source of overseas news for Australian press, television and radio is Australian Associated Press (APP), a newspaper co-operative which, since 1946, has been a partner of the world news-agency, Reuter. At its headquarters in Sydney AAP is linked with the world's most prolific news centres, London and New York, while throughout Asia, a team of AAP-Reuter correspondents provides a coverage for Australia and London.

The regional daily press, comprising daily newspapers publi­shed outside th< metropolitar areas, derive their Australian news services from the cooperatively owned news agencies in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

All three agencies secure their overseas news from AAP. The agencies are Australian United, Press (AUP), in association with AAP in New South Wales, Regional News Services in Queensland and the Provincial Daily, Press Association of Victoria.

Journalism: Training for journalism in Australia is essentially practical. There are three terms of cadetship-one of three years for journalists starting their cadetship at 18 or over, one of four years for those starting before reaching 18, and one of one year for graduates. During a cadetship, trainees learn the techniques of newspaper reporting from senior journalists and by criticism of their reports. Cadets accompany senior reporters on assignments to gain practical experience.

They may spend upto 10 working hours a week attending classes and lectures, at the employer's expense. Metro­politan newspapers require cadets to learn shorthand and typing and all encourage them to take university degree courses. Colleges of advanced education are now providing courses specifically for journalists.

Most writers, artists and photographers employed in the Australian press and related media are members of the Australian Journalists' Association (AJA). The Association is registered as a Trade Union under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.

The AJA was formed in Melbourne in 1910 and has grown into an organisa­tion of more than 8,000 members. They work under awards made by conciliation and arbitration commissioners or agreements between the Association and the proprietors of the various classes of news­papers, news agencies, broadcasting and television stations and also with State and Australian Federal Government Departments. The AJA has formulated its own code of ethics for journalists, with power of expulsion from membership or fines upto $ 100 for non- observance.

Canada

The Press : Newspapers, magazines and periodicals are major vehicles for communicating information in Canada.

In mid-1973, Canada's 300 English and 12 French-language daily newspapers had a combined circulation of more than 4.5 million and served some 90 communities. Most daily newspapers are owned by groups and 12 such groups account for more than three quarters of national circulation.

In addition to the dailies, some 9uu weekly or twice-weekly newspapers with a circulation of about 3 million serve smaller com­munities. the suburbs of the metropolitan areas, and some neighbour­hoods of the large cities. About 130 of the weekly newspapers are in the French language.

More than 80 newspapers, mostly weeklies, are aimed at Cana­dians whose mother tongue is neither French nor English. They are published in more than 20 languages and have a combined circula­tion of about 3 million. A daily newspaper is published in Italian in Toronto.

The farming community is served by more than 60 publica­tions that cover all areas of farming and agriculture.

Some 500 publications with a circulation of about one million are directed at the country's business and professional communi­ties. These periodicals include about 120 classifications of interest in business, trade and industry.

The cultural and recreational fields are covered in about 300 publications, most of which are monthlies, and some quarterlies and a few weeklies. They emphasise such areas as education, sports, hobbies, religion, entertainment, boating, travel, arts, music, television and radio.

France

Newspapers and' Magazines : France gave birth to much of press technology between the time the first French printed magazine appeared in 1631 and the Petil Parisien came out at the beginning of the 20th century. Newspaper circulation in France was the second highest in the world in 1914, but the French press underwent a drastic change just after the Second World War.

Most pre-war papers folded, and the press in general suffered a severe economic pinch. Average circulation had risen only slightly-12'6 million after the war as compared to 11 million in 1936. Today no more than 10 daily papers are being published in Paris and less than 80 in tha provinces. On the other hand, the number of pages has doubled on an average.

Once dominated by high-circulation Paris papers, the Fren:h press is highly decentralized at present. Provincial dailies now account for two thirds of total French circulation. In France as elsewhere, the trend towards concentration has led to the merging of powerful groups that control several dailies and sometimes many magazines. This is the case of the Hachette, Amaury, Prouvost and Filipacchi groups in France.

One feature of the French press is the relative importance of magazines. These are leading political weeklies like the Express, the Nouvel Observateur, the Canard Enchaine, Humanite Dimanche and the Point or general news magazines like Paris Match and Jours de France. Television magazines like Tele 7 Jours and Tele- Poche have very high circulations (3 million and nearly 2 million respectively). The women's press is popular-Elle is the leading magazine-and there has been a rise in the number of economic magazines. Innumerable specialised reviews also appear.

The press has always held a special place in the French econo­mic and social system Freedom of the press-necessary to the exercise of the trade-is guaranteed by a law adopted in 1881. Stiffer control, however, is wielded over foreign publications. There are more than 12,550 professional journalists in France to whom the law guarantees, among other things, a "conscience clause". Printers in the trade form a special guild that enjoys a privileged position. Union control is very strong in the trade (CGT book federation).

The economic difficulties facing the press, such as the rise in the cost of newsprint, are not generally particular to France. Others are more specific, like the exceptionally stiff cost of distribution owing to the high percentage of unsold copies, and low income from advertising, although the press still gets access to most of the advertising market.

To prevent the economic squeeze from killing off certain newspapers-papers whose pluralism is the best guarantee of the freedom of news-the State has set up a system of financial aid to all publications of general interest. The total amount of this aid in the form or fiscal assistance through tax rebates and encouragement to improve facilities and postal assistance (preferential postal and telephone rates) has been evaluated at more than one billion francs, or 12 per cent of the overall turnover of the press.

News Agencies: French papers are supplied with a lot of their news by agencies, the chief of which is Agence France Presse (AFP). One of the five leading world agencies, the AFP sprang out of the pre-war Havas Agency and was nationalized until 1957, at which time it was given autonomous status.

It functions along commercial lines, its financial management remaining in the hands of the State. The AFP enjoys great independence. Its board of directors, made up of a majority of representatives of the French press, elects a Director-General, every three years. An eight-man Council is responsible for seeing that it sti.ks to the rules of truth and objectivity written into its statutes.

The AFP has 18 offices in France and nearly 100 abroad as well as news sources in 159 countries. It employs about 2000 persons, including 70') newsmen, and a further 1917 part-time stringers.

The Agency serves 410 daily newspapers, 120 radio and television stations and 47 national agencies in a total of 136 countries.

Informing and Protecting the Consumer : By tradition the French consumer has never been very active in defending his interests. The Government has sought to rectify the situation in recent years, acting in 1960 to set up a National Consumer Com­mittee with consultative powers at the Ministry of Fconomy and Finance, and a National Consumer Institute in 1966.

The latter is a public establishment that gives much hearing to the represen­tatives of consumers associations and to spokesmen for the main trades on the consumer market. The INC tests goods, hands out information and works to protect the consumer. It publishes a monthly magazine with a circulation of about 350,000 and many booklets, just as it takes part in radio and television programmes.

An association called the Center for Rcsearcc and Documenta­tion and Consumption (CREDO) carries out economic and statistical surveys. Private consumer organizations are fast growing in number but have so far failed to make much impact on the public.

The State and Information : Apart from carrying out responsi­bilities in various branches of information (by overseeing public organizations, laying down regulations and offering financial assist­ance). the State has shown itself to be increasingly anxious to put information and documentation at the disposal of the public and to inerease the individual's feeling of participation in public affairs.

Various ministries, particularly the Ministry of Economy and Finance, run services specializing in information. The most important of these is the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Surveys (1NSES). An Incomes and Prices Research Center (CERC) publishes information about subjects which had been little known to the public up to now. A new Tax Council submitted its second annual report in 1974.

Working under the Prime Minister's office, the Documentation Francaise (French Documentation Service) issues comprehensive and wide-ranging publications on all aspects of poli­tical, social, economic and cultural Life in France and abroad, and thus constitutes a precious and highly appreciated source of informa­tion.

Taking the lead from other European countries, the French government decided in 1974 to create an Information Office whose work is to provide newsmen with information coming from the administration, and to coordinate the public relations campaigns of the administrative services.


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