Newswatch: revolution, war, Obama and media

Big issues: four stories that will dominate the news this autumn.

Summer may be here but the world keeps turning: so which are the big news stories and compelling issues we’ve been following? Keep an eye on these during the long break!

Traditionally, August is known as ‘silly season’ because stories that would never usually make much of a stir can find themselves on the front pages and leading the bulletins for days on end. When the Royal Baby news dies down, reporters and editors may be scrabbling around for inspiration. Don’t despair, though: here is our selection of the most important themes to keep an eye on.

Egypt

The largest and most populous nation in the Arab world is reeling after its ‘second revolution’ toppled the country’s first elected President, Mohammed Morsi. Most of Egypt’s allies have accepted the change, believing that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party had lost public support. But worries have grown that the army, which removed Morsi from power, might lead more coups and undermine the attempt to build a functioning democracy. Every day the violence between Morsi’s supporters and opponents continues.

Syria

Contrary to expectations, President Assad has not only held onto power, he has strengthened his position against the uprising. Meanwhile, there are growing reports of Islamists and al Qaeda sympathisers in rebel ranks. This makes the international community look increasingly impotent when faced with the daily slaughter in this civil war. The EU and the US have indicated they could arm the rebels, but it may be too late to act without boosting extremists.

China

The world recession that has depressed living standards since the financial crash of 2008 may be abating. But in every country showing tentative signs of recovery, including the UK, shocks from the outside world pose a danger. China’s economic growth has been slowing, and the seriousness of the pollution problem in the world’s second biggest economy means a change of tack. If China’s woes combine with another flare-up of the Eurozone crisis, trade will be disappointing.

Obama

Meanwhile in the US, President Obama is struggling to convince the American people that he is on their side. Economic progress in the superpower could lift the rest of the world’s fortunes too. But even if the news on jobs and prosperity is good, Obama is having a very bumpy second term in the White House. Expect more about how this cool, calm character is dividing the nation between supporters and ‘haters.’

Media regulation

Lastly, politicians in the US, UK and EU are grappling with one of the most controversial topics in a democracy: how to regulate the media. David Cameron has announced that he wants to crack down on what internet material is freely available to all. This, combined with a stand-off between the newspapers and ministers about future press rules, means a running debate all summer about privacy, intrusion, standards and public morality.

You Decide

  1. Which of these stories do you find the most interesting? Which is the most important?
  2. Is it more important to follow themes or to follow the fortunes of powerful individuals?

Activities

  1. Illustrate a globe with the most interesting news developments of this year around the world.
  2. Plan your own journalistic investigation to carry out over the summer.

Some People Say...

“History will never end, so nor will the news.”

What do you think?

Q & A

Are you telling me the top stories don’t get chosen on merit?
Oh dear, I’ve given it away! Each news item is in a daily competition with every other story. On some days there is simply less competition for space, so stories that might not usually make the grade find themselves enjoying a decent position in the news.
That makes sense, but it’s not very inspiring.
Well, some people might think that news organisations should just shut up shop on quiet days. Or play funny videos instead of covering less compelling stories. The best news organisations use the quiet periods to do their own investigations and ‘break’ fresh news, or to conduct research and analyse trends behind the news.

Word Watch

Change of tack
Air pollution in Beijing has become so severe that it has forced China’s Communist rulers to confront public anger about the environmental, health and quality-of-life costs of continuing to grow the economy quickly by constantly expanding the use of energy from coal. The authorities are now talking about finding a more ‘sustainable’ model.
Internet material
David Cameron has announced that he wants better enforcement of the law against those who publish, distribute or use internet images of sex crimes – child abuse for example. But he also wants to make some additional categories of pornography illegal, and to make households ‘opt in’ if they want to access legal pornographic images or films.
Future press rules
There is a competition between two rival proposals for a new law to regulate the British written news media: a Royal Charter drawn up by the politicians, based on the proposals that resulted from the Leveson inquiry into the phone hacking scandal, versus a rival Royal Charter drawn up by the press itself.