A News Analysis: The BlackBerry Z10

Image From: http://www.firstpost.com/tech/images-blackberrys-launch-of-z10-and-q10-smartphones-608314.html

In this news analysis three articles written about the release of the new BlackBerry Z10 will be examined. The news was covered internationally, nationally and locally, therefore each article shows the different ways in which information is interpreted and portrayed by the media. Close attention will be paid to the structures of agenda setting, priming, framing and objectivity.

The first example of media coverage is through the international news provider, BBC News.  Their article, Blackberry 10 Handset to launch first in the UK, was posted on their online web source on 30January this year. This is a prime example of hard news. The British Broadcasting Corporation is an internationally recognised company, which attempts to provide relevant, recent news that affects their audience. Since the BBC provides news in several categories, this event would mainly be newsworthy to their audiences interested in technology, science or social developments. The event of the Z10 release is not only applicable, but also significant considering prevailing news at the time such as the latest developments by Apple and Google.[1] This reveals the journalist’s reliance on the audience’s general knowledge on all things related to BlackBerry and its competition, an example of macro level framing Scheufele identifies as media framing.[2]

The article further provides a number of authoritative sources including quotes from BlackBerry’s chief executive Thorsten Heins at a press release, and a direct quote from Alexander Peterc, BNP Paribas’ technology analyst.[3] It also uses multiple visual sources, including three videos that add credibility and allure. Moreover, the article clearly recognises the need to be objective and situate fact over opinion. It provides the reader with necessary information regarding the Z10 and its release, also attempting to provide a balanced account by including problems, faults and information on the competition.  However, in her article on journalistic objectivity, Sandrine Boudana notes that complete objectivity is unattainable.[4] This is possibly due to complications of political partiality, organizational and structural bias or constraints due to factors such as availability of sources or budgetary, as well as language and the implications and connotations of a journalist’s words.[5]

Similarly, agenda setting and priming creates bias through indoctrinating the viewer into a response. According to Scheufele agenda setting and priming can be linked to each other in a causal relationship.[6] Agenda setting is the way the media directs its viewers to consider some news over others through constant coverage of that topic. Priming is consequently the way audiences react, and the way they judge news based on information provided and its portrayal. In the example, the audience finds news on the Z10 appealing because the media has made constant reference to it. Scheufele  notes that these topics are generally only relevant to elite or specific groups, the release of the Z10 is clearly not a third-world concern, yet it has made headlines due to relevance in the world of technology.[7] The audience also disregards the device compared to others, since information regarding the company’s steady decline, financial problems and the products poor reception has been recurring. The description of the achievements as mediocre have further dissuaded the audience, “analysts suggested its efforts might have come too late to make much headway against the most popular smartphone platforms: Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS”.[8]

The second article is the Mail & Guardian’s BlackBerry unveils the Z10 by Arthur Goldstuck, and is an example of national news, intended for a South African audience. The article makes use of the written word as well as visual aid to its advantage. The picture used shows Thorsten Heins with BlackBerry’s new creative director, Alicia Keys. This both advertises the device and makes use of celebrity endorsement. The presence of Keys, a celebrated musician, creates authority and desire to the device and the article. This is vital considering the article is re-blogged off another website.[9] This suggests the story was not as important in relation to South Africa’s daily news at the time, also the typical audience and interests of the Mail & Guardian are hard news readers interested in politics, business and government. However, it attracted much attention in technology related local websites, which will be evident in the third article. Furthermore, it is still newsworthy since it affects many South Africans.

The article was up-to-date, yet a small time gap allowed Goldstuck to attain first hand contact with the Z10, providing an in-depth personal account of the technology. This consequently allowed less objectivity, with the author giving a factual account of his experience. It is possibly an example of civic journalism, but also demonstrates Crotean and Haynes’ notable concept of objectivity as a routine practice.[10] They suggest similarities in news agendas and content coverage by different news sources, are due to them following patterns of whom to interview and what questions to ask, and staying in line with competitors.[11] They fear straying from the norm, considering their reliability would be in question had they different facts to everyone else. This theory assists agenda setting, priming and framing. Already the agenda is set on the release of the Z10, since BlackBerry is a highly considered competitor in terms of cellular devices used in South Africa.

The priming is clear due to the critical South African audience, therefore emotive and opinionated language is used to substantiate the author’s angle, “The big surprise is how appealing…”[12] and, “It certainly leaves room for improvement”[13]. Again the journalist uses framing, and writes within what he believes to be his general audience member’s frame of reference.[14]

The last article is from the Times Live, a tabloid-style associated webpage of the Sunday Times. The article is called BlackBerry not quite my type, by TJ Strydom. It is more informal than the national and international stories, due to it being a local publication. A visual source is present, yet it adds little value to the written article besides capturing the attention of potential readers. Audience members could include technology experts or people interested or affected by BlackBerry products and advancements.  However, the fact that the article is from a news-blog, suggests the audience desires  a concise and possibly opinionated version of the news provided by the major international and national agencies.

This article does not attempt objectivity. The aim is to provide a raw look at the situation; the opinion is valued for its first-hand experience. However, unlike the first two articles it does not properly consider news values.[15] Both national and international articles are expected to collaborate with multiple sources, to increase their reliability and attempt objectivity so as not to offend different viewpoints or to impose theirs on the audience.[16] The Times’ news piece does not make use of any external sources, but relies solely on the authority and opinion of the writer.

In terms of priming the reader responds negatively to the Z10 due to the author’s degradation through intensely emotive and opinionated language, “had to stomach”[17] and “Urgh”[18]. It kindly defaces the device in light of its competitors by noting it is “not a bad phone”. The account also alludes to Scheufele’s audience framing which refers to the readers’ personal association and experience with Blackberry, which they then compare to the writer’s encounter with the Z10.[19]

In all three examples the language remains relatively formal, the writers and news houses also stay clear of offensive content and unreliable sources that could provide false information.[20] Jamieson and Campbell suggest this is to avoid being sued by the companies who’s reputations they vandalise.[21] The articles also use agenda setting, priming and framing. Agenda setting is evident through the revision of the BlackBerry Z10 release story, and the constant updated accounts the national and international sites have written, particularly on the success and failures of the Z10 after its release.

The articles studied, expose the agenda setting, priming and framing behind international, national and local news stories alike. Although the journalists have attempted to obtain objectivity, it is rarely achieved, specifically in local or personal news accounts where opinion is valued. The usage of these structures as well as content’s relativity and the ways in which the information is portrayed, differ according to the audience members.


[1] Jamieson. K.H. and K.K. Campbell (2001) The Interplay of Influence: News, Advertising, Politics and the Mass Media. Thousand Oaks, Wadsworth, 51.

[2] Scheufele, Dietram, A. (2000) “Agenda Setting, Priming and Framing revisited: Another look at Cognitive Effects of Political Communication”. Mass Communication & Society, 306.

[3] British Broadcasting Corporation. 2013. Blackberry 10 handset to launch first in the UK, January 30 2013 update. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21261809

[4] Boudana, Sandrine (2011) “A Definition of Journalistic Objectivity as a Performance”. Media Culture Society, 390.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Scheufele, Dietram, A. (2000) “Agenda Setting, Priming and Framing revisited: Another look at Cognitive Effects of Political Communication”. Mass Communication & Society, 302.

[7] Scheufele, Dietram, A. (2000) “Agenda Setting, Priming and Framing revisited: Another look at Cognitive Effects of Political Communication”. Mass Communication & Society, 303.

[8] British Broadcasting Corporation. 2013. Blackberry 10 handset to launch first in the UK, January 30 2013 update. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21261809

[9] Mail and Guardian Online. 2013. BlackBerry unveils the Z10, February 05 2013 update. Available: http://mg.co.za/article/2013-02-05-blackberry-unveils-the-z10

[10] Crotean, David and William Haynes (2003) Media Society: Industries, Images and Audiences. Thousand Oaks, 133.

[11] Ibid, 133-134.

[12] Mail and Guardian Online. 2013. BlackBerry unveils the Z10, February 05 2013 update. Available: http://mg.co.za/article/2013-02-05-blackberry-unveils-the-z10

[13] Mail and Guardian Online. 2013. BlackBerry unveils the Z10, February 05 2013 update. Available: http://mg.co.za/article/2013-02-05-blackberry-unveils-the-z10

[14] Scheufele, Dietram, A. (2000) “Agenda Setting, Priming and Framing revisited: Another look at Cognitive Effects of Political Communication”. Mass Communication & Society, 306.

[15] Papacharissi, Z., & De Fatima Oliveira, M. (2012) Affective News and Networked Publics: The Rhythms of News Storytelling on #Egypt. Journal of Communication, 269.

[16] Ibid.

[17] The Time Live. 2013. BlackBerry not quite my type, March 27 2013 update. Available: http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2013/03/27/blackberry-not-quite-my-type

[18] Ibid.

[19] Scheufele, Dietram, A. (2000) “Agenda Setting, Priming and Framing revisited: Another look at Cognitive Effects of Political Communication”. Mass Communication & Society, 306.

[20] Jamieson. K.H. and K.K. Campbell (2001) The Interplay of Influence: News, Advertising, Politics and the Mass Media. Thousand Oaks, Wadsworth, 62-63.

[21] Ibid, 62.

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2 responses

    • Thank you. It was an assignment for a media course.
      I hope you enjoy the rest of my blog. I’ll be sure to take a look at yours.

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