Influences on media content : domestic news production processes at four Omani print news organisations

2014-12-15T10:40:22Z (GMT) by Abdulmonam Al-Hasani
This thesis examines internal and external influences on news content at four Omani news organisations, Oman and Al-Watan (Arabic-language dailies) and Oman Observer and Times of Oman (English-language dailies). Three theoretical frameworks guided this study: the political economy approach, the cultural approach, and the social organisation of news. The study is divided into macro and micro levels of analysis. At the macro level, the study focuses on ownership and control, economic determinations, and media-society relationships. At the micro level, the study investigates newsgathering and news selection processes by focusing on journalists' backgrounds, journalistic practices in newsrooms, news values and journalists/sources relationship. Three methods are employed to collect the data in this study: content analysis of the selected news media, personal interviews (with journalists, editors, and editors-in-chiefs) and participant observation of the newsrooms at the Omani dailies. The findings of this research show that Omani daily newspapers, either private or government owned, are political projects working under government control. Most of the Omani news workers observed in this study were aware that they were not doing professional journalism work. The channels for gathering domestic news items at all four Omani newspapers in this study were very limited. The four main news sources for gathering domestic news items were (1) Oman News Agency (ONA), (2) public relation and information offices (PR), (3) reporters and (4) correspondents. News workers heavily depend on the national agency, and on ready-made news from the PR offices. Poor writing from correspondents leads to poor, similar domestic content in all daily newspapers. Because of the limitation of the news gathering channels, the selection processes were also limited. The findings of interviews and observations show the long process of decisions-making routines at the government-owned dailies. In contrast the private dailies work with less bureaucratic processes. Nevertheless, both private and government owned papers face the same problems in routines for selecting news items and the same difficulties gaining access to information, not only from the official sources, but also from ordinary people. The news workers face pressures from official sources, readers, advertisers, news organisations' administrations, and personal financial pressures. The findings of this research support the theoretical approaches to media content while focusing on Omani context. However, the findings match some perspectives more closely than others. The organisational, extra-media level and societal factors work stronger than the individual communicator perspective.

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