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Why Battlefield 1 Triumphs Over Other FPS Multiplayer Games

Before all micro-transaction hell broke loose across the genre, there was a little shooter set during The Great War that stood firm on the podium.


Released before we were blessed with David Fincher’s Mindhunter series on Netflix and before we witnessed EA’s catastrophic downfall with Star Wars: Battlefront II, the holiday season of 2016 graced us with something rather special.

On October 21, 2016, Battlefield 1 deployed itself onto shop shelves, digital storefronts and through people’s letterboxes with full force. After an exceptional response following the announcement trailer, Battlefield 1 was set on becoming a big success for DICE and EA. The main competition being Call of Duty’s Infinite Warfare which failed to rally as much spark of excitement (but still performed relatively well in the first week of sales), driving a significant amount of hype and actual measurable sales – reaching approximately 3.46 million copies sold on consoles within the first week.

We’re now 14 months into Battlefield 1’s lifetime. We’re halfway through the dispatch of the season pass’s third (of four) packs. 80,000 people are still playing the game on a regular basis. There’s no sign of letting up. Battlefield 1 is nothing short of a success, which is probably why I still find myself drawn to it despite having new games with under 10 hours of play waiting patiently for me on the side.

I got LA Noire and Dead Island Definitive Edition recently, dabbling here and there for some hours before the craving for intense FPS action began to emerge. Don’t get me wrong, I adore LA Noire and have plenty of skull-smashing fun with Dead Island, but for me, holding the frontline with a bolt-action rifle at my side and grenade primed just feels all too familiar. But familiar in a good way. In a way that your favourite sweatshirt fits snuggly, not too tight or too loose. Battlefield 1 challenges me in a fair way that doesn’t leave me cussing at strangers but respecting and being impressed with the person who killed me with a headshot 300 metres across the map. I laugh when I get impaled by a lance-wielding horseman, I don’t cry and rage quit, a behaviour that seems all too common in other FPS multiplayer games.

That’s not all; Battlefield is notorious for its incredible destructible environments (Levelution, people), player-controlled vehicles, higher amount of players in matches and epic sprawling maps packed with immersive detail and intense atmospheres. Something you don’t find in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, nor the latest WW2 instalment. It’s an age-old battle between the two franchises. I remember when I bought an Xbox Magazine several years ago how it was packed with ‘Team Battlefield” and “Team CoD” freebie badges and stickers. It all seems a bit immature these days, but back then, during a time when I played every Call of Duty instalment, I had already made up my mind. I am Team Battlefield.

My older brother plays Battlefield 1, he doesn’t get much time to play anything, but when he does he goes straight to Battlefield 1. Why? Because it’s intense, set during an interesting period (although slightly fantasised in the game) and it’s fun. Although, he does have one problem with the game, and that’s the interesting season pass model. Separating new map releases across a couple of months, the model arguably ensures that players hang around for a longer time, so there aren’t significant spikes in player count. In contrast to traditional season passes, which would release all maps and content in one swoop, Battlefield 1’s season pass has been releasing one or two maps, including new weapons and such, almost a month before the remainder of content is released.

I still can’t tell if I like it or not. I think I do. Being able to demo new features before the final release almost feels like early access; it also incites the feeling of getting more bang for your buck, giving paid content a longer lifetime than a regular flash in the pan. Premium players are encouraged to play new maps thoroughly, which means I never felt like I missed anything that was released. The fact that I’ve put 200 plus hours into the game already justifies the price I paid for the season pass. Of course, everything has changed since then…

We’re now 14 months into Battlefield 1’s lifetime. We’re halfway through the dispatch of the season pass’s third (of four) packs. 80,000 people are still playing the game on a regular basis. There’s no sign of letting up.

EA and DICE have at the time of writing scrapped season passes for free seasonal content, as first demonstrated in Star Wars: Battlefront II. We all know how that went. It’s almost concrete to assume that EA intended to make lost money from micro-transactions, however, that plan got completely ripped to shreds by fans, press and just about everyone across the globe, apparently. It didn’t go well, and as mentioned in my last post, the game has been left fundamentally broken.

Battlefield 1 is the last true example of an FPS done right. Ok, the season pass is kinda expensive, yes it does dilute the player base somewhat, but overall the game worked. Will the next entry into the Battlefield series feature a return to old season pass roots? Unlikely. If it attempts the free seasonal content model it needs to get it right – no pay-to-win controversy, please. It really destroyed a game I had the highest hopes for, and I don’t want to see Battlefield fall victim to the EA money-making machine. They can make money from micro-transactions, a plethora of game do it, that’s no problem. They just have to do it right.

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Rogue Content: Star Wars Battlefront II’s Missing Features

Planet-specific skins and Starfighter arcade are among the MIA


Delving into Heroes versus Villains mode for the hundredth time, waiting patiently for players to join the showdown – a worrying sign of lacking activity – upon loading the character selection screen, the mode feels improved. Yet, I can’t help but feel like something is still lacking.

Stepping back, why does Heroes versus Villains feel better? Well, this is the result of the introduction of two shiny new heroes; Finn for the light, and Captain Phasma for the dark, providing 16 total heroes split between the two sides. Alongside a brand-new Galactic Assault map, Crait, and a Starfighter Assault map, D’Qar, these new slices of content arrive for free to all players as part of ‘The Last Jedi Season’, the first batch of content in place of a season pass. Releasing adjacent to the debut of the latest blockbuster Star Wars Episode XIII, the content intends to uphold EA and DICE’s promise to maintain a unified player base by bringing fresh experiences and making them available to all.

Following micro transaction controversy early on, efforts to rekindle excitement in Battlefront’s sequel have, to some extent, failed. The damage is already engraved deep beneath the core, with the in-game Crystal currency pretty much redundant, and a page that clearly meant to operate as a place for buying more with hard-earned cash empty and blank. It’s almost poetic, really. Areas of the game that have been cut as a result from sincere hatred towards pay-to-win structures, a failure on EA and DICE’s part, leave a sour taste. In a way, the game almost feels broken without it.

As a die-hard fan of Star Wars and the Battlefront series, I can’t help but compel myself to soldier on. I defended the 2015 reboot with the hope of seeing similar visually stunning Star Wars titles land onto my Xbox Dashboard, but it’s hard to feel amped for a game that’s been torn apart by the press and players, rightly so in most cases. It’s led to significant adjustments by EA and DICE as they backtrack and attempt to recover from a media sh*tstorm. Unfortunately, I believe they’ve already lost.

Where’s old man Luke? Draped in a fraying grey cloak, grey beard and grey Jedi ways (kinda), wielding his green lightsaber and shooting witty and grumpy comments at his foes. I’m not even kidding, where is he?

Battlefront II is in serious need of skins. Skins, arcade content and more seasons. At the time of writing, there are no announcements for the second season, leaving fans half excited to see what’s coming (Grievous, Grievous, Grievous… Come on!) and half concerned that the damage inflicted early-on has impacted development for upcoming content packs. It’s embarrassing that the community is being forced to create mods for skins and characters before the developers do. In the last week alone I’ve seen skins for Kylo Ren, Rey, Darth Vader, Boba Fett and new heroes such as Anakin and Count Dooku – all of which make me more excited than any official announcement from DICE. That’s just not right. It can’t seriously take that long to implement Han’s Hoth outfit and Leia’s Endor attire, two skins that already exist in the first game.

Has the backlash damaged the game’s reputation as well as planned seasons? Is there any point in adding new maps and heroes if the player base is already in rapid decline (evident in my experience by the lack of players when match finding)? The situation might be more complex – involving blunt conversations between EA, DICE and Disney of which we, the public, will never hear. The Battlefront II community eagerly awaits for a spark of hope.

In the meantime, I’m going to continue to force push Captain Phasma off Wookie platforms on Kashyyyk…


 

Binge-Flix: Big Mouth, Jack Whitehall Travels and Toast of London

Quality television. It entices us, it confuses us, it unites us and it divides us. Despite this, there’s no denying that everyone is obsessed with it. Be it us little folk with our little opinions on Reddit, or the multitude of streaming services, such as Netflix and Now TV. The former block-buster service strives to achieve “quality television” status with many of its Netflix Originals shows. Shows in which I seek to test their Quality mettle with rigour and ruthlessness. And maybe some humour. You decide…

In Binge-Flix I will force myself to watch at least ONE Netflix Original show. Be it the next reality-bending series of Stranger Things, or a vomit-churning kid’s cartoon reboot, I will sit down and watch it.

Accompanying whatever exciting (or dreadful) programme the people at Netflix have pumped onto their service will be a selection of shows that have caught my eye. Happy reading!


October 12th, 2017

This week is jam-packed with awkward humour, goofy humour and just plain rude humour. All of which can be found in some shape or form in Netflix Original no-way-is-this-for-kids show Big Mouth, another Original, Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father or rough gem Toast of London. This is humour week. Enjoy…

Big Mouth (Netflix Original)

Big Mouth

Oh boy. Where do I even start? If someone asked me to describe Big Mouth I’d tell them to imagine sex education lessons in school – now make it a cartoon with hormone-raging kids. Oh, don’t forget the surprisingly explicit nudity, crude language, awkward boners and of course, the Puberty Fairy. Wait, I mean Hormone Monster…

This show has NSFW written all over it. And it’s actually pretty good. That’s coming from someone who doesn’t really take to South Park‘s particular flavour of jokes. I say that, because after watching the trailer for Big Mouth that’s likely to be the show you think of. I can confidently say that Big Mouth is very much it’s own.

From the get-go you’ll be thrown into extremely awkward coming-of-age situations and relatively explicit visuals, when all is considered. It’s simply bizarre seeing any ounce of nudity when watching a cartoon, but then again, The Simpsons Movie did it. Not that it makes any less weird. It’s a meandering journey of highs and lows, obsession and forgiveness, and don’t forget the dreaded Pornscape.

Moving on from the fact that I can’t remember the characters names (probably just me), I did find myself grow close to each of the teenagers. As they survive through their rather fruitful happenings, you can’t help but feel sorry for them all and with that you kinda begin to relate. Teenager angst and frustration is the worst, after all.

The Good: Without being of utterly bade taste, Big Mouth did a fine job of pushing boundaries in a cartoon. More please, Netflix.

The Bad: Some more ‘filler’ episodes took a lot of time to repeat points made in previous episodes. These lead to some scenarios where I felt I could leave the show to play in the background while I did something else.

The Ugly: The art style is not my favourite. Some of those faces are too strange for my liking…

Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father (Netflix Original)

Jack Whitehall travels

Jack Whitehall is venturing off on a special two-week “gap yah” with his dad in this blend of comedy, travel and family feuds. There’s stunning visual work with panning shots of Taiwan’s vibrant markets, Hanoi’s beautiful rivers and Cambodia’s enticing, erm, minefields… Of course, there’s some funny bits, too.

It’s just how you’d imagine it with your own father; you’re young, you know the latest crazes and you understand that people don’t need to be talked to in an inappropriate “We. Are. From. England. What. Is. Your. Name?” voice. The dad on the other hand, well, he does just about the opposite. Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father is 3 hours of this hilariously awkward sitcom of  father and son misunderstandings with the stunning backdrop of Asia.

With six 30 min episodes binge-watching through this series is relatively easy. It helps that they re-locate almost every episode to keep it fresh, and the activities, although feel slightly slotted in, show off some really interesting cultural differences between East and West. Of course, when Jack’s dad Michael orders Welsh lamb from one of the fancier hotels it really juxtaposes the whole “experience”. But that’s the joke, and it is funny.

I’m looking forward to where they go next, assuming there’s a series 2 and Michael Whitehall isn’t put off by the whole thing. I guess we’ll see.

The Good: I just can’t get enough of those gorgeous camera shots. Seriously, they are Planet Earth kinda good.

The Bad: Not enough. 6 episodes? I don’t want to stretch poor Michael too far, but come on, they are short and juicy and I want to binge more.

The Ugly: The activities, as well as some of the awkward moments, felt pretty darn staged. It’s a real shame that they couldn’t have blended better with the rest of it, because there are some genuinely funny truffles in here!

Toast of London

Toast-of-London

Bloody Ray Purchase. Bloody Clem Fandango. Why is that so fun to say? Putting on Matt Berry’s character’s voice for Toast and saying just about anything is great. Go on, try it now. Don’t know how? Watch this complete gem of a show and you won’t be able to stop.

I stumbled upon Toast of London while digging into the dark crevices of Netflix’s long list of shows, and I’m so glad that I did. Fans of The IT Crowd will feel at home with this extremely goofy and outrageous comedy. Matt Berry does a brilliant job of maintaining his IT Crowd blunt and silly humour in Toast of London, yet, he’s not the only one. Everyone in this show is crazy. Most of them are more crazy than he is. Funnier still, Toast often seems like the most sane person in the programme.

This show should definitely be on your watch list. Out of the three programmes I watched, Toast of London was the one I had myself laughing out loud, constantly. At the time, I was sharing a hostel room with two other people, who I had to apologise to for laughing so much. Then again on the train home I did the same thing. Couldn’t help but giggle like a little girl at some the really goofy situations. I just love it.

The Good: Probably everything. Yes, that’s right, everything.

The Bad: Probably nothing. Yes, that’s right, nothing.

The Ugly: Oh wait, there was one thing: CLEM ‘BLOODY’ FANDANGO!

Alexander Jones

Will the new Tomb Raider film suck?

Alicia Vikander stars as the new Lara Croft

Alicia Vikander might consider Angelina Jolie the true Lara Croft, but with 20% on Rotten Tomatoes, I think she’s got a better chance at becoming the crypt ravager fans deserve.

There’s a hot-off-the-press official poster for the 2018 instalment circulating the web, pictured below, that has sprung a fairly divided discourse among fans of the series.

TRposter
Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft

It turns out, if you share something you’ve probably poured your heart and soul into for the last couple of years on the internet, someone’s going to mock it. You’d think people would be desensitised to it by now, but on and on the wheel spins…

Anyway, ignore that detour, people have been seriously vocal about the upcoming Tomb Raider film, based on the video game. WAIT, this film isn’t just based on the titillating game series, it’s actually following the story-arc of the 2013 reboot. Arguably, a much more respectful embodiment of the character, and by that I mean less sexualised and OTT body proportions. But, Tomb Raider, undoubtedly, has been under-siege ever since it was announced.

You can’t always blame people for being concerned; films based on video games are notoriously awful – I recently watched the Assassin’s Creed adaptation, and my god, I couldn’t help but laugh. AND I’M A FAN OF THE SERIES. I really thought we’d have gotten a decent video-game-film by now, but alas, we continue to wait.

Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 18.40.35
Well that escalated…

But THIS is it. Well, it could be it. Come on, it has to be?

I do believe that Tomb Raider 2018 could be it. No, seriously, this could be it. Why would it go wrong? Alicia Vikander is a beautifully talented (and beautiful) actress who’s proven to be the one to watch in the future – just give Ex Machina (Mak-in-ah) a watch and you’ll see for yourself this lady’s talent. The photos leaked from the set also give the impression that costume design and locations are on-point for this film, so I’m fully optimistic about it all.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, but I’m going to say it now: Tomb Raider 2018 will be good.

Alexander Jones

 

On: PR and the Media

Are public relations effects of news sources having a detrimental impact on the quality and independence of the news we read?

Public relations is a relatively new industry that has been on the forefront of academic and trade professional debate in relation to the news media. According to Nick Davies (2008, pp. 85) Britain now has “more PR people than journalists”. The rise of public relations (PR) in the last decade has seen it discussed and argued in regards to its impact (be it good or bad) on the professional journalistic field.

The quality of news and the independence of journalists operating within this field is often brought into question in regard to public relations. Many academics (which will be addressed later) consider public relations to be highly influential in changing the formula in which journalists use to construct news. Trade professionals also consider this impact of PR, although some critics believe that the use of PR can be justified. These debates will be thoroughly studied in the following essay which will focus on political news coverage and also science news – which I will evaluate in terms of digital reporting, as I believe this area is where PR has developed furthest.

By studying these areas I plan on evaluating how detrimental an impact public relations has caused in regard to the quality of news produced as well as the independence of the journalists themselves when creating this news. In consideration of evaluating these aspects I must clarify that influence can be difficult to measure, that is why I will access PR from trade professionals, as well as academic readings.

To define public relations, The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (2014) provides a perspective from professional PR people stating that public relations:

“Looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour… maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”

This definition supports the notion that public relations does in fact “influence opinion” in favour of whomever the client may be, in order to “maintain goodwill” and reputation. The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPHR) state in their code of conduct that two of the key standards that PR must follow are honesty and confidentiality. These key standards are positive in relation to maintaining the public sphere, however in practice they often contradict each other. How, for example, can public relations conceal information from the public in order to ‘maintain reputation’ of the client organisation whilst being completely honest with the public. This very ideology laid out by CIPHR may be the work of PR, Moloney (2006, pp. 41) claims that PR has “manipulated public opinion in favour of ideas, values and policies that economic and political elites…have favoured”. Public relations as an industry, works to “manage the public image and information, in the pursuit of organisational interests” according to Cottle (2003, pp. 3). It appears that public relations, according to these academic theorists, focuses on maintaining positive client image through the use of persuading or “manipulating” the public.

These counter arguments to the trade definition are supported by influential public relations spokesperson Edward Bernays (2005, pp. 37) who claims that PR is “intelligent manipulation” that remains “invisible” to the public. He argues that PR exemplifies the way in which the public are “moulded” and governed” by men who “pull the wires that control the public mind” (pp. 37). Public relations as defined by the industry attempts to sway negative perceptions of PR, stating that it operates to “achieve goals” by influencing and maintaining specific images and opinions of organisations (Department of Trade and Industry and Institute of Public Relations 2003, pp. 6). Whereas academics and critical perspectives from trade individuals claim that PR “influences” and “manipulates” the public (Bernays 2005; Moloney 2006). Clearly there is a split in how academics define the operation of public relations and how the industry defines itself.

One area in which public relations influence can be analysed is in political news coverage. In an industry that seeks to influence public opinion, political news coverage is a sphere often brought into debate. Franklin (1994, pp. 3) explains the ideology of the fourth estate that is regularly considered true among journalist professionals. According to this fourth estate journalists “subject all aspects of political life to close scrutiny” and is a “key mechanism for securing the accountability of politicians to the general public” (pp. 3). Franklin argues that this ideology mirrors the canine metaphor that journalists act as “watchdogs” to guard and protect public interest -consequently the public sphere (1994, pp. 3; 2009, pp. 84). Instead, Franklin explains, this fourth estate has been replaced by the fifth estate which in turn represents the expansion of public relations in the UK (2010, pp. 84).

This expansion of public relations derives from the increasing pressures of creating and delivering quality news quicker than ever before. Conboy (2012, pp. 113) argues that there is a widely accepted perception that public relations are “dominating” journalists due to this pressure to “produce results quickly”.  Steven Lewis (2015, pp. 10), a PR professional, backs this notion that journalists are under pressure as they have “dozens of blank pages” to fill each day. They are busy “because they’re doing more with less” (pp. 25) in this working environment he claims (pp. 10). This implies that public relations provides a form of lifeline to journalists by supplying them with the information subsidies required to fill these blank spaces. The use of PR in this way carries consequences on political news coverage.

The news media has been subject to the symptoms of a changing political economy in which public relations is almost always considered as a necessary tool to be used. This can be seen by businesses, the government and of course the media. This can be demonstrated in political news coverage. Wilcox et al (1986, pp. 27) stresses the importance of “image-building” for politicians and this constant need for positive representation can be accomplished using PR techniques. It is interesting to consider the impact that PR can bring on public opinion and the question regarding influence on democracy of news. Continuing from what Franklin (2009, pp. 84) argued considering the ‘fifth estate’ and expansion of PR, he goes on to support this shift in regard to ‘packaging politics’. He argues that PR has created a method of delivering political influence to the public in the form of ‘packaging politics’, this is the way in which politicians and political parties create information subsidies for journalists. These subsidies contain key ideas and issues of importance to that person or party. By doing my own research online I quickly found that major political parties such as the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats[1] all have their own in-house press office. Here press have access to archives of speeches and proposals by party leaders and other party members.

This method of distributing political information is part of what Franklin (1994, pp. 9) calls the ‘packaging of politics’ in which politics is turned into an over-simplified and “trivializing…armchair activity” (pp. 10-1). This reliance on pre-packaged news from PR sources evidently has an impact on the quality of news consumed by the public. It can be argued that Habermas’ (1991) concept of the public sphere, which prioritises the public’s freedom to knowledge from the news, is compromised by the reliance on information subsidies from PR. Washbourne (2014, pp. 38) discusses the negative side of subsidies donning them as ‘fake news’. He goes on to say that albeit the information received from these subsidies may be of great value, they “do so in furtherance of the material interests of PR practitioner’s clients” (pp. 38). Franklin (1994, pp. 9) supports this notion arguing that the ‘packaging of politics’ “manipulates, as well as informs, the public”, these subsidies hand-feed journalists (Murray 2001, pp. 26) information that politicians (or spin doctors more likely) want to distribute in order to promote their political ideologies or smear their opponent parties. Davies (2009, pp. 154) shares this concern stating that reporting is vulnerable to being “infiltrated by stories which are generated by PR acting for commercial and political interests”.

This is demonstrated with political lobbying. Lobbying is to politics what PR is to journalism – it is a specialist area of public relations that involves relationships between journalists and politicians. The practice of lobbying involves journalists taking MPs and other party staff members out in an attempt to earn their favour and exchange backhand information, which is considered highly unethical and undemocratic. The UK stands as one of the highest in lobbying exchanges, evidence was found by the Leveson Inquiry in 2012 revealing numerous examples of this activity that had taken place (2014).

One example of lobbying can be seen by British pressure group Taxpayer’s Alliance (TPA) who frequently make statements and provide ‘research’ to back their claims. This research is carried out by the TPA themselves which questions the objectivity of the findings. According to lobbying website Who’s Lobbying[2], the TPA have submitted ‘oral evidence’ on various cases to parliament committees and on one occasion even met with Exchequer Secretary of the Treasury in 2011 to discuss ‘tax issues’. It is a worrying revelation that pressure groups can obtain this access to members of influence and potentially inflict their own agenda upon them. These actions are considered as ‘dark arts’ encouraged and performed by political spin. Another level of deceit to the public by these ‘dark arts’ is the selection of specific journalists to meet up with. In relation to the independence of journalists these ‘dark arts’ are very detrimental to their freedom. A very good quote, from fictional character Malcolm Tucker from British political comedy series The Thick of It (BBC, 2005-12), explains that reporters will report what they are told by spin, albeit they may know that the information is false or somewhat bias, they will write it anyway in order to receive future subsidies. If they don’t report what they are told then they potentially lose access to a source of political information. This reality is addressed by Leon (1973, pp. 60) who claims that “journalists have some definitional power…but sources have the upper hand”. This is echoed by Gans (1979, pp. 116) who resembles the relationship between journalists and sources as a sequence of dance, in which more often than not, the sources lead. This resemblance to dance suggests that the independence of journalists within the political sector is slim. As part of Davies’ (2009) ‘rules of production’, he states that reporters have to select “safe facts” in regards to keeping “moral and political values safe” (pp. 125). The increasing use of information subsidies, following the expansion of public relations, has caused journalists to lose freedom of speech regarding politicians as they face the risk of losing out altogether.

Another area of journalism that has seen a large dependency on public relations is in science news. Science reporting appears to be impacted by the increasing use of public relations within the journalistic field, this inevitably has a domino effect on the independence and quality of the work produced by journalists. From my own research into science reporting it is clear that some media outlets such as the Mail Online, Wales Online and even media institutions such as The Telegraph – which carries high symbolic capital, feature evidence of PR in their articles. One example of this can be seen from the Mail Online, who recently posted a story about speed reading. From a quick Nexis search it was confirmed that most of the article had been copied from a newswire source, which was made available a day before the Daily Mail posted it online. The Daily Mail (online) stories, especially science related reporting, rely heavily on press releases and newswire material. This is demonstrated with simple checking through Nexis’ powerful search tool. These articles exemplify what Davies (2009, pp. 69) calls ‘churnalism’. The process in which journalists simply ‘copy and paste’ press releases without any considerable validity check. This symptom of modern journalism is the consequence of what Dr Martin Moore (2015) calls “aggression in the newsroom”, in which more journalists are fired but the demand for news goes up. Russell (2008) supports this argument, stating that these cutbacks and “increased pressure to churn out online news” has given PR even greater “prominence in science coverage”. Inevitably this does have a detrimental impact on the quality of news, as journalists have to face the ‘need for speed’ of providing content (Franklin 2008; Davies 2008, pp. 82; Cushion & Lewis 2009; Lewis 2015, pp. 25). As a consequence, the independence of journalists is also affected by the shift in how reporting operates, they become “passive processors of second-hand material” (Davies 2008, pp. 113). This insight into how the journalism practice has changed heightens the concern surrounding science and political reporting in terms of the validity and objectivity of the news. The reliance on information subsidies which often come from leading political parties such as the conservative party, or from ‘research’ that may also be sponsored by large corporations. Influence from the strongest voices remains present, however there is potentially less space (and time) for journalists to provide fair, objective coverage of subjects, which can be considered a downfall caused by public relations pressure.

In conclusion, it is fair to say public relations definitely has an impact on journalistic independence and quality of news. From the findings stated above in regard to political and science reporting, it is clear that PR has a negative impact to a certain extent. News stories are littered with information that has merely been lifted from press releases or subsidies, which can harm the objectivity of the story, more so Habermas’ (1991) idea of the public sphere is in danger here. It is hard to justify the ‘watchdog’ mentality that Franklin (1994, pp. 3) addresses because of these reasons. It is not possible for a journalist to scrutinize politicians and the companies in power if they rely on these same agents to provide them with the news in which they write. Journalistic independence is arguably non-existent in these circumstances. On the other hand however, public relations does offer relief in what Moore (2015) claims to be a more “aggressive” working environment. Journalists lack the time necessary to do their own research and also truth-check data and information passed on to them. Public relations in most cases provides ‘quality’ writing by industry professionals. The information that they provide may contain bias, but in most cases it is written to a good enough standard to be regarded as quality reporting. Reliance on PR material is in no way good for journalism, and it displays a negative shift in values of the profession; but the fact that PR professionals come from journalistic backgrounds, and therefore the writing is of good quality arguably suggests that PR isn’t as detrimental to journalists as first made out to be. The increase in PR is worrying for the independence of journalists, but in the ever-quickening demand for news, PR can be a lifeline.

*This essay was originally written in 2016 for my undergraduate degree.*


References

Bernays, E. 1928. Organising Chaos. In: Chomsky, N. 2005. Propaganda. Brooklyn: IG Publishing, pp. 37.

CCHQ press. 2015. Available at: http://press.conservatives.com/ (Accessed: 10 January 2016).

CIPR. 2014. What is PR?. Available at: http://www.cipr.co.uk/content/careers-advice/what-pr (Accessed: 9 January 2016).

Chakravarty, D. 2016. TaxPayers’ alliance calls on the government to drop plans for a sugar tax. Available at: http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/taxpayers_alliance_calls_on_the_government_to_drop_plans_for_a_sugar_tax (Accessed: 14 January 2016).

Chakravarty, D. 2016. TaxPayers’ alliance slams junior doctors’ strike as ‘dangerous’. Available at: http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/taxpayers_alliance_slams_junior_doctors_strike_as_dangerous (Accessed: 14 January 2016).

Conboy, M. 2012. Products. In: Journalism Studies: The Basics. Oxon: Routledge, pp. 109-134

Cottle, S. 2003. News, Public Relations, and Power. London: Sage, pp. 3.

Cushion, S & Lewis, J. 2009. The Thirst to be First. Journalism Practice 3(3), pp. 304-18.

Davies, N. 2009. Flat earth news: An award-winning reporter exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media. London: Random House UK, pp. 69-154.

Exchequer secretary to the treasury. 2016. Available at: http://whoslobbying.com/uk/taxpayers_alliance# (Accessed: 14 January 2016).

Franklin, B. 1994. Packaging politics: Political communications in Britain’s media democracy. New York: Distributed in the USA by Routledge, Chapman, and Hall, pp. 3-9.

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