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By Brian McNair

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Extra resources for News and Journalism in the UK: A Textbook (Communication and Society)

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It is routinely ‘used by journalists in warding off charges of bias or distortion, or other criticisms’ (Schiller, 1981, p. 3). The concept of ‘objectivity’ is premised on the assertion that ‘a person’s statements about the world can be trusted if they are submitted to established rules deemed legitimate by a professional community’ (Schudson, 1978, p. 7). The key assumption underlying the concept is that ‘facts are assertions about the world open to independent validation. They stand beyond the distorting influences of any individual’s personal preferences.

Ownership remains a male preserve, but it is not impossible that Elisabeth Murdoch will become the first female media baron – albeit, by accident of birth in the first instance, though only genuine ability will keep her in that position, if and when she succeeds her father at the helm of News Corporation. For women media workers as a whole, on the other hand, the same pressures and obstacles which hinder their progress in other professions – principally, those associated with child-bearing and child-rearing, alongside a more generalised sexism – continue to be present in journalism, if to a declining extent.

The doctrine of divine right was incompatible with the rise of the bourgeoisie, which had to be ‘free’ from feudal authority. From this basic drive for power developed the political theory of liberalism and the bourgeois ideological concept of freedom: economic freedom, political freedom and intellectual freedom, advanced in opposition to medieval absolutism as the precondition for the ascendancy of the bourgeoisie as a ruling class. John Milton articulated the concept of press freedom as early as 1644, and pioneered the concept of ‘the open market of ideas’, which played an important part in the rise of bourgeois economic and political power.

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