When I made the choice to go on the study tour with the Masters in integrated global communications program, one place I was determined to visit was the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). As a former reporter and one interested in broadcast media, I was eager to visit one of the best in the news media industry. It was therefore no surprise when I selected the mass media in the UK for this blog.
BBC: A reliable source for information
London is home to the renowned BBC, a broadcast media organization that has distinguished itself in global news reporting (Tian & Stewart, 2005). It is a government-owned national media that is relied on by a majority of the UK population for news (Plunkett, 2013). The fact that UK nationals and its international audience consider the BBC a reliable source of information made it a vital medium of communication for not only the government of the UK, but also to foreigners in the country.
As a tourist in the UK, the BBC channel became my source for in-country news. I was able to learn about the past and upcoming events that were of national importance. It also kept me abreast of other information that could affect my movement around the city, as well as the places I visited. For instance, I was informed of the transport workers’ strike action that was scheduled to take place during my stay and also knew when it was later called off.
Print media on the go
Another form of mass media that caught my attention in the country was the print media, which include newspapers, magazines, brochures, flyers, banners, posters, billboards, etc. Right from our stay in Brighton and then London, there seemed to be an unusual supply of print media. There were newspapers in hotel lobbies, restaurants, trains, and even on the streets. Most of which were free for anyone interested in reading at that moment.
Several times, we were handed flyers as we strolled around the city, and one time I actually collected a newspaper and magazine that was being given out on the streets.
Culture shock: Free newspapers
The Brighton festival had a brochure designed to showcase the events available for attendance and there were flyers of interesting places to visit arranged at the lobbies of the hotels we were lodged. This made it easy to discover the sites that we had to see or tours that were ongoing at the time. All of these information being readily available in print was not unusual, but it became of interest when I discovered that it was free and that many, with the exception of tourists, were not taking advantage of it.
People ignored those who handed out flyers and newspapers, and the ones in the lobby never appeared to reduce in size. I found this a little strange, because I come from a country where newspapers or brochures were not handed out freely. With so much information available on print, little wonder, the UK was noted to have a literacy rate of 99%. It was also reported to have the oldest and largest print media industry (Radeczki, 2013).
Mass media in the UK is more developed than that of many other countries, which makes it a thriving sector in the country. However, the fact that it is everywhere makes it even more difficult to capture consumers’ attention.
Plunkett, J. (2013, September 25). BBC rated UK’s top source for news. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/sep/25/bbc-uk-top-source-news-ofcom
Radeczki, K. (2013, April 4). Mass media in the UK. Prezi Inc. Retrieved from https://prezi.com/gyaqliys6bzx/mass-media-in-the-uk/
Tian, Y., & Stewart, C. M. (2005). Framing the SARS crisis: A computer-assisted text analysis of CNN and BBC online news reports of SARS. Asian Journal of Communication, 15(3), 289-301. doi:10.1080/01292980500261605