A Cross-Sectional Analysis of Factors Influencing News Coverage: Studying the Impact of State Interests on News Portrayal
Abdel Aziz FMd*
Faculty of Mass Communication, Ahram
Canadian University, Egypt
- *Corresponding Author:
- Abdel Aziz FMd
Faculty of Mass Communication
Canadian University, Egypt
Tel: +20 2 38320733
Received Date: January 15, 2017; Accepted Date: January 24, 2017; Published Date: January 30, 2017
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Purpose: To explore the factors related to journalism, which have significant influence on news coverage. Methods: The research has incorporated a cross sectional as well as quantitative approach, which focused on a variety of news content including newspaper media, television, and the internet. The data have been gathered from 47 journalists (Males and Females) from the Egyptian Journalists Federation. Results: The government encouragement for biasness and organizational factors (r=0.612) have been found positively associated and appears as an influential factor for the news coverage. Personal morals of the journalists have been found associated with the medium of advertisement (r=0.715) and organizational factors (r=0.395). Conclusion: The interest of State in portraying the news plays a major role in its coverage. There is a need to raise the awareness of public about particular events as the audiences are affected by the news what journalists produces.
The study intents to discuss the factors, which influence the
news coverage. It discussed the diverse issues and perspectives
in an appropriate and collaborating fashion. The electronic media
includes television, internet, radio, fax, and all other mediums that
need digital coding or electricity to access the contents, unlike
the static/print media that is although created electronically, but
does not need electricity to access. The publications in the form
of newspapers, magazines, journals are included in print media.
This study has mainly focused on the analysis of factors that
influence the news coverage by the journalists. Furthermore, it
aimed to evaluate the impact of state interests on news portrayal
and also the factors that are affecting it.
Aim and Significance of the Study
The study has aimed to understand the role of journalism in the
coverage of news within Egypt. Moreover, to analyze certain
factors, which have influenced news coverage. Specifically, the focus is on the impact of state interest on news portrayal. The
study is significantly necessary in the Egyptian boundaries, as
the journalism domain is still in a growing phase. Therefore, the
journalists need to know the factors, which have a direct influence
on the coverage of news. The government and organizational
factors, interest groups, advertisers and other media have been
considered as the influential factors that may impact the coverage
of news with Egypt.
The news is generally declared as the soul of democracy, as
endowing integral resources for the mechanisms of collecting,
assembling, and speculating the information. It materializes
many things to different people. In the present era, examining
the category of news journalism seems to become one of the
most persuasive challenges that are encountered in describing
the interests of public . Wirth provided the discrimination
among two dimensions through which procedures of mass
communication, especially news, is adequate in endowing the implementation of social adherence in an aspect through which
modern analytical debates are expected. On the contrary, there
is an uncertainty in making a picture news audience while making
this distinction. The news has been witnessed as a fundamental
and pre-eminent system of disseminating the information. It has
been observed that news can be a key component to expedite
the transfer of information and ideas as a consequence of which,
impartial political discourse is required to be established .
Journalist is identified as a responsible personnel, who have
authority to cover different events without any biases .
However, as reported by Alexander, news is observed to be more
extensible and can accommodate moderate regulating changes
in public opinion, which seems to be more receptive in contrast
with other normative associations, for instance, law . On the
other hand, biasness in the journalism is directly associated with
the development of conflicts and lobbies at the media houses.
Considering the execution of foreign-policy, journalism seems to
have an ambiguous impact on the news coverage. Journalists are
observed to reflect the searchlight on events. At times, it occupies
the concentration of the politicians and public, and sometimes it
is disregarded. News reports may stimulate the decision taking or
compose a little issue all of a sudden to emanate comprehensively.
The policy is usually observed to be determined by the events
themselves, instead of their indemnity .
Considering the case of Egypt, journalism is found to be
a developing domain in Egypt. It has undergone major
developments by the time span of the 1990s, as an outcome of
the initiation of CNN to the Arab world, the occurrence of the
internet and Al Jazeera. During the time period of 1993, the
internet was introduced as a medium in Egypt, instead of its
commencement in any other country of the Arab world. Internet
played an imperative role in the enhancement of the news
content coverage. Currently, the scenario of Egyptian journalism
is typically inadequate. The Egyptian rulers have executed the
priority and relevance of news concerning the position of the
state as cultural and political leader, and also to the capability
of tenure to regulate the masses during early 1950s; since, the
Egypt acquired freedom from the British .
For a number of decades, journalists have pursued to determine
some fundamental variables that configure the complex
procedure of choosing the international news, as analyzed by
Golan . The findings of Golan provide numerous fundamental
determinants with respect to the coverage of international news
which includes; discrepancy, pertinence, cultural compatibility,
and position in the chain of command of nations  (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Fundamental determinants of the International news coverage.
The analysis of outcomes has determined compelling associations
among the international news agenda of three news programs
broadcasted on television in the evening, and international news
agenda of the morning New York Times. Research into the factors
of the International news coverage has recognized different key
variables that are linked with the newsworthiness of the global
and international events. These might comprise the relevance,
deviance, location in the hierarchy of nations and cultural affinity
. Most of the studies conducted in past have focused on
numerous aspects that have an impact on the news coverage.
Some researchers also focused on determining the extent to which news media is likely to be perceived and distinguished
on a structural basis [3,7]. This study has primarily focused on
exploring the factors, which influence the news coverage by
considering the cross sectional analysis technique.
The information that is provided within media accounts could
facilitate the transformation at the collective level and legalize
the actions of the authoritative. It can also shape and limit the
individual behaviors, which are dominant to the broader social
change. The study presented the collective opinions of the
journalists in the fields of broadcast television, broadcast radio,
and news editorial. Journalism has always been considered
as an important domain within a country to provide coverage
in regards of the events. For this purpose, media houses are
developed to promote the level of journalism within the country.
Similarly, there are many other factors, which are observed and
implemented during the news coverage for better journalism.
The factors, which are found to have an impact on the coverage
of news, include advertisers, the government, interest groups,
and the involvement of the community . The study has
incorporated 47 journalists as the study participants from which
the data collection process has been conducted. Both male
and female journalists were included as participants to gather
the data. A demographic questionnaire has been developed,
which included the information regarding the Age, Educational
background, Professional background and Years of experience
in the journalism as a profession of the participants. Another
questionnaire has been structured, which included the questions
regarding the influential factors (Government, Advertisers,
Interest groups and other media) that enable journalists for
the news coverage in Egypt. The data were collected from the
Journalist federation in Egypt and analyzed using the Statistical
Package of Social Sciences (SPSS). The Pearson correlation test
has been applied on the data and evaluated the two-tailed
significance value and the Pearson correlation value to examine
the relationships between the influential factors of news coverage
Table 1 Demographic profile.
|40 above years
|Years of Experience
||5 Above years
Findings and Discussion
The study has evaluated the correlation matrix to examine
the relationship between the influential factors for the news
coverage. The responses of journalists have assisted to evaluate
the influential factors of news coverage. Table 2 below shows
a detailed analysis of association between various influential
According to the results obtained from the present study, there
is a strong correlation between the government encouragement
for biasness and organizational factors (r=0.612) and the p-value
has also indicated statistically significant results (p-value=0.00).
It concludes that government emphasis on social demonstration
and encourages an advanced level of biasness in journalism.
It can be concluded that journalists make moral decisions
regarding wrongdoing then abandon objectivity for the public good. Similarly, Gehlbach and Sonin investigated the control of
government on the journalism and broadcast associations .
Qualitative research design has been used by the researchers,
as the study comprised of content analysis. The outcomes of the
study showed that the governments, which are likely to place an
emphasis on social demonstration and encourage an advanced
level of biasness in journalism. Under such governments, a very
low discrepancy has been observed among the private as well
as state media, but governments can socialize the private news
channels as a means to redeem the cost of causing the bias.
In terms of the large advertising market, both the state and
journalism seems to be illustrated less bias. On the contrary, it is
found to have a greater influence on the journalism. It is suggested
that the government should embrace restriction of journalism
in response to an amplifying advertising market. This study has
been performed by constituting a theoretical framework to
evaluate the government control of the journalism. The model
suggested, that this research indicated a significant restraint
that any government can face, which anticipates controlling the
content of news. This strategy inducement can be dependent on
both the organizing nature of the government and also on the
size of the advertising market.
This study can also be compared with the study conducted by
Tella and Franceschelli in which the government advertising and
the coverage of news regarding the scandals of corruption have
been examined . The quantitative design of research has been
used and the technique of regression analysis has been applied
to generate the outcomes. The research has been performed by
considering two newspapers, i.e.; La Nacion and Clarin. Results of
the study showed that a significant and positive association exists
between the coverage of corruption and dissemination. The
news, which are likely to grab front pages of newspaper, can be
prostrate to reduce the quantity of front pages and the capacity,
concerned with the scandal of corruption by the government.
They might be reluctant to postpone the publishing of a scandal
as they fear it might cause greater loss of readership. It is obvious
that the journalism should be awfully depressed regarding an
establishment with peculiarities as discussed in this study, due
to reason that it includes the coverage of favoritism for financial
advancement. An enhancement in the standard deviation with
respect to government advertising on monthly basis is correlated
with a decline of coverage given to the corruption scandals of
government. The researchers concluded that journalism is
probably substantial, corruption is observed to be very high, and
the legal systems are weak.
Government emphasis on social demonstration encourages
an advanced level of biasness in journalism. Subsequently, the
governments usually endeavor to have an impact on media by
the way of behaviors that range from unmitigated restriction
and coercion to assistance and variation. The results of the
study provide certain benefits to focus on the corruption in the
news events which can be surely classified as enthusiastic or
inexpedient to the government. It is a topic, which emerges with
corresponding prevalence on the front page, with significant
variation in the space capability committed to it, in terms of both
over time and throughout the newspapers. The overall results
of the study conducted by Tella and Franceschelli have been found pertinent. It is a condition where the government and
newspapers conspire; alternating biased reporting (in benefit
of the government) in the transference of the money to the
newspapers, beyond immense financial costs originating from a
diminished distribution of the newspaper .
In the present study, it has been observed that journalists feel
that coverage of news as a medium of advertisement is more
negative in Egypt in regards with the external factors and public
awareness. Personal morals have also been found associated
with the medium of advertisement (r=0.715). It concludes that
the content of media affects the attitudes of public towards
advertising. In this context, Keenan and Shoreh determined the
mechanisms through which the advertising has been covered
by the Egyptian Press . This study served as a longitudinal
analysis of the content. Qualitative research approach has been
used to find out the mechanisms which were used. From the
results of research, it has been revealed that with respect to the
advertisements, many of the columns, letters to the reporters,
and reviews are observed to be pessimistic in modulation.
However, majority of the news stories were determined as
impartial. The outcomes of the research also showed that the
proceedings and social facets of international and domestic
industry with respect to the advertising seem to be ordinarily
enclosed. The researchers have focused on the probability of
Egyptian perspectives in the vicinity of advertising, which is likely
to be influenced by a revelation of media depictions of advertising
in connection with civilization effects. The study has concluded
that the advertising in terms of outdoor and television appears to
be criticized more frequently. The concerns, which are typically
signified include culture, integrity, and duplication. It has been
observed that in comparison with the United Sates, the coverage
of news as a medium of advertisement is more negative in Egypt.
The researchers recommended that future studies should place
an emphasis on evaluating the strong connections among the
content of media and the attitudes of public towards advertising.
Personal morals are also linked with the organizational factors
(r=0.395) as the statistical results have been found significant
(α=0.006). There is a positive and strong correlation between
the influential factors (Public awareness and External factors).
It concludes that there is a need to raise the awareness of
public about particular events by considering the organizational
and other external factors as the content of media affects the
attitudes of public towards advertising.
Petrova conducted a study related to the broadcast houses
and the groups of special interests . A qualitative design of
research has been used, as the study comprised of determining
the mass media through previous studies. The data analysis
has been conducted by considering one special interest group
with respect to one media outlet. It was assumed that a special
interest group generally favors the policy of media without
any deprivation of principle. It was found through analysis
that the special interest group appreciates the inclusion of
largest potential audience by news with conventional bias. The
researcher has also examined that what will be the outcomes in the case if various special interest groups attempt to influence
the policy of media as selected by a specific media outlet. The
analysis shows that if the desires of distinctive special interest
groups are adjusted, then the resulting bias, on average, seems
to be greater than for the circumstances in which the propensity
of particular special interest groups is not aligned. The outcomes
of research suggested that special interest groups are observed
to have a provisional advantage in terms of news recognition.
They retain adequate knowledge concerning relevant policies
and issues in contrast with the society or policymakers in general.
It was also recommended that, an independent and free mass
media deprived the convention of special interest groups, as
well as impedes their impact on the consequences of policy by
communicating the information .
Another study has been performed by Hackett and Gruneau,
concerning the missing news: filters and blind spots in the press
of Canada . The researchers have primarily focused on
special interest groups to explain their impact on the coverage
of news. In terms of news media, people who are associated
with numerous advocacy firms and interest groups are usually
observed as the most vocal interpreters. Generally, the interest
groups dislike steadily inducing and begging journalists for
propaganda and beneficial coverage. Besides this, journalists
are also found to possess an assimilated perspective about the
impact of interest groups. For instance, a survey was carried out in
which most of the journalists indicated that interest groups bear
the responsibility for the penetration of news in a considerable
manner. However, the journalists who generally accepted that
interest groups frequently produced an imperative case for the
controversy, which is specifically the sources of an interest group
that are principally competent, traditional, and standardized
sources. They regulate what becomes news on a regular basis.
The interest groups are observed to attain a positive attention
and attempts to administer the depiction of their organizations
in the media.
Table 2 shows that there is a significant correlation between
all the external factors like employers, organization, or any
other type of external factor that influence to cover the news
as the p-value (p-value=0.052) obtained is equal to the level
of significance (α=0.05). There is also a moderate and positive
association between the external factors for the news coverage
(r=0.399). Awareness of public is also associated with the
external factors as the p-value (p-value=0.005) is less than level
of significance (α=0.05). It has concluded that journalist finds the
news remarkable enough to cover while taking into consideration
the organization and other factors (r=0.918).
Table 2 Pearson correlation matrix.
||Organization and other factors
||Awareness of Public
||Government encourage biasness
||Advertisement negative Egypt
|Organization and other factors
|Awareness of Public
|Government encourage biasness
|Advertisement negative Egypt
**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
Riaz conducted a study in which the agenda-setting role of
the mass media has been examined . The study has been
performed through the usage of qualitative analysis. The findings
have showed that the content of news media constitutes an
indicative situation by devoting more attention (in terms of more
time, more elevation, etc.) to peculiar people, events, or a group
of people as compared to others. Hence, the contemporary
research considers the active performance of media and endures media as an effective component of the society. Most of the media
organizations are observed to have a dominant role in earning
profit. With an enhanced intricacy of the corporate organizational
structure of the media organizations, some of the interests
aroused regarding the freedom of media and the journalistic
sovereignty in the entire universe. Considering the media content,
ideology is also observed to play a fundamental role in agenda
setting. This study has been performed by considering the case
of Pakistani media to determine the performance of setting an
agenda with respect to mass media. It has been observed through
this research that media institutions and organizations occupied
thousands of employees to scrutinize and report the events that
seem to occur globally. There are numerous other sources of
media outside the media organizations that are likely to impact
the content of media. Some of these sources include campaigns
of public relations, special groups of interest, sources of revenue
which are audiences and advertisers, technological environment,
etc. The outcomes concluded that the mass media can play
an essential role to change the minds of the people. With the
passage of time, the agenda of media appears to be the public
agenda due to the agenda setting performance of mass media.
This theory has been determined to place a responsibility on the
organizations of media because their irresponsible attitude can
destruct the national relevance. As the present study concluded
that audiences are affected by the news what journalists produces,
which is directly associated with the external factors. Journalists
believe that their personal values or personal subjective mind is
totally going to influence what they do but there are reasons that
as journalists they are supposed to follow a value system.
A detailed investigation has been done by Carroll with respect
to the journalism and its associated factors . The researcher
has focused on agenda-setting within the business news. The
researcher gave an extension to the study of Sriramesh, in
which both researchers have carried out a significant interaction
among the news media and public relations, and re-examined
the approach towards conventional media systems for analyzing
the media environments . For evaluation of journalism, the
researchers have recommended a framework, which is comprised
of three fundamental components, i.e.; journalism outreach,
journalism control, and journalism access. Through journalism
control, the researchers imply even if the news media in a state
are directly or indirectly possessed by the government, or either
they are a component of the private sector.
Golan has studied that the New York Times identifies many
newsworthy events covered around the world including Egypt.
It is possible that Fox News, CNN or CNBC covers the Egyptian
events more accurately. Considering the case of Egypt, it has
been observed that in some particular industries, the tendency
regarding privatization has not incorporated journalism, which
was state-controlled or state-owned. Results of the study showed
that the businesses pursuing to use journalism as an ambition
of corporate eminence should distinguish the exclusive prospects
they face. The information that public are provided with in media
accounts could facilitate the transformation at the collective level
and legalize the actions of the authoritative. It can also shape
and limit the individual behaviors, which are dominant to the broader social change. There is a need to evaluate and identify
the association between the beliefs about the political conclusion
drawn by the public, the association between the political actions
and conclusions. The research conducted by Happer and Philo has
indicated that media play a dominant role through policy actions
by reinforcing and repeating the media messages and also shapes
behavior, particularly where these are associated to other kind of
structural encouragement .
Contribution of the Study
Conversely, influential factors, which might affect journalists and
their work fluctuates between each individual. Consequently
the present study has recommended for a better understanding
of how to recognise which influential factors are affecting the
news coverage. The study has also served as an educational tool
for attainment of an understanding regarding the factors that
influence a journalist to cover the news.
This study has aimed to focus on some of the aspects which
are found to have an impact on the journalism in the context of
Egypt. From a variety of sources, it has been determined that the
government, interest groups, advertisers, and other media are
the most significant variables that influence journalism or news
coverage. The examination of news content is a fundamental
aspect as it suggests the groundwork to scrutinize the impact
of journalism along with its effects. It has been observed that
with respect to the present political environment, it is crucial to evaluate the future of Egyptian journalism. In general, journalism
in Egypt is directly distinguished by their apparently consistent
support for the reign and a stretched depiction of tremendous
prospects. Online news coverage or journalism in Egyptian
context has been observed to play a vital role to disclose the
news, which will not be revealed by the state-owned media.
The media platforms seem to administer insufficient conventions,
in which advocates ensuing the intermediate ground raise voice
about their viewpoints, beliefs, and document the negligence
of human rights. Although, the government has demonstrated
to hold the failing on differing opinions in almost all forms of
media, the social media is observed to prevail as an autonomous
strength in Egypt. There is a need to evaluate and identify the
association between the beliefs about the political conclusion
drawn by the public, the association between the political actions
and conclusions. As the research conducted by Happer and Philo
has indicated that media play a dominant role through policy
actions by reinforcing and repeating the media messages and
also shapes behavior, particularly where these are associated to
other kind of structural encouragement .
The author is very thankful to all the associated personnel in any
reference that contributed in/for the purpose of this research.
Further, this research holds no conflict of interest and is not
funded through any source.
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