In old days men had the rack. Now they have the press. That is an improvement certainly. But still it is very bad, and wrong, and demoralizing. Somebody - was it Burke? - called journalism the fourth estate. That was true at the time, no doubt.
But at the present moment it really is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it. We are dominated by Journalism. The Soul of Man - Oscar Wilde Feudal society was traditionally divided into three 'estates' (social classes). The 'First Estate' was the Church (clergy - those who prayed).
The 'Second Estate' was the Nobility (those who fought - knights). It was common for aristocrats to enter the Church and thus shift from the second to the first estate. The 'Third Estate' was the Peasantry (everyone else, at least under feudalism: those who produced the food which supported those who prayed and those who fought, the members of the First and Second Estates). These 'estates' are defined primarily by what one does (as well as by the social class one is born into). The term 'fourth estate' is used today to refer to the mass media as a powerful watchdog in liberal democracy, revealing abuses of state authority and defending the democratic rights of citizens. The notion that the press is a great instrument of liberty providing a check on the abuse of government power - any power - is a central part of any political culture.
'If people don't know about power and let their attention wander completely then those in power will take liberties'. Andrew Marr, BBC's political editor Former editor of The Independent The main role of the press is to ensure transparency and accountability in the government's dealings. The publisher of a newspaper is most often also the owner and is the papers top manager. If a chain or a large corporation owns the paper, the publisher represents the owner's interests and ensures the business's profitability. According to the News Writers Handbook, the owner's opinion about the news of the day is usually echoed by the editorial page editor on the editorial page and on the op- ed page opposite the editorial.
It is common for the editorial page editor to report directly to the publisher, and not the papers editor. The owner works with general managers who oversee the paper's business operations, circulation, production, promotion and advertising. The publisher and general manager set the editorial department budget, usually with the guidance of the paper's editor or the managing editor. The editorial board is made up of a board of directors who may or may not be journalists. They are usually the main shareholders of the paper and have a hand in decision-making. A decision is passed when there is a majority for it.
The owner of the paper is more often than not the chairman of the vote but when it comes to decisions concerning controversial matters the board can overrule his judgments. An editor in chief is a person responsible for the editorial aspects of publication. He is also the person who determines the final content of a text (especially of a newspaper or magazine). He has the last say on the layout of the newspaper. According to Richard Rudin (Introduction to Journalism), the managing editor of a newspaper is the editor in charge of all editorial activities of a newspaper or magazine.
He is involved in page make up and assignments. For example investigation into the misuse of public funds. He also oversees the hiring and firing in the newspaper and the papers various editorial divisions. In the San Francisco Examiner, the managing editor played a key role in dispatching a team of seven reporters and photographers for an in-depth report on social and economic conditions in Latin America.
The news editor directs the copy desk and dummies the pages. He often works with the managing editor on page make up. He also assigns stories to reporters and photographers. The chief sub editor edits copy for style, accuracy, spelling and grammar. By doing this, they protect the good name of the paper and avoid embarrassment of spelling mistakes, errors of phrasing, errors of grammar and inaccuracy of the story.
He also writes heads and cut lines. The features desk handles special and prominent stories on individuals of national interest. The editor in charge of this desk, the features editor, is charged with assigning reporters and photographers to interview certain people. The foreign editor manages wire copy and formats the news gotten from international correspondents. He also decides on the news worthiness of a certain event.
The business editor mans the stock exchange and verifies the accuracy of his reporters information. He / she has a great knowledge in business matters and is in a position to determine the accuracy and newsworthiness of an event. The editor of editorials usually handles the papers editorials. He reports to the owner and gets the editorial opinion of the day from him. The supplements editor, is charged with the supplements involving different organizations. He goes over the copy and ac certains that it is just the way the client wanted it.
The sports editor, assigns stories to reporters and goes over the copy. According to Trevor Ibbotson, author of the Newspapers' Handbook (Media Practices), he sends reporters to the sports games and prepares the sports budget. The education editor reviews books and other education material that is to be used by students. 'Perhaps the most urgent -- and complex -- task facing American education today is to figure out how to hold schools accountable for improved academic achievement.
In this important new work, Helen Ladd... this book should be at the top of the reading list for anyone seriously interested in transforming the quality of American schools. ' Edward B. Fiske, Education Editor, The New York Times All the editors work together to produce a newsworthy newspaper. The sit in the newsroom and deliberate of the ethical principles and legal ramifications of running certain stories. They act as a checking system on one another and so help in upholding the philosophies of categorical imperative, hedonism, veil of ignorance, golden rule, golden mean and utilitarianism for the good of the newspaper and the greater good of the public.
Rudin, Richard and Ibbotson, Trevor, Introduction to Journalism. Focal Press, 2002.
Kemble, Richard Newspapers' Handbook (Media Practices) Routledge, 1998.
Frost, Chris, Reporting for Journalists. Routledge: Taylor and Francis Books Lt, 2001.