Home > Uncategorized > The Real News Network: An Analysis by Billy Chapman and Phil Hedrick

The Real News Network: An Analysis by Billy Chapman and Phil Hedrick



For our media research paper, we chose to analyze “The Real News Network”. This is a website that provides global news through streaming broadcasted videos. The website was created in 2007 by Paul Jay, who is the current CEO and senior editor. The former producer of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation states that the company is “focused on providing independent and uncompromising journalism on the critical issues of our times”. The website covers a wide range of politically and economically relevant topics; such as human rights and environmental issues, religious freedoms, freedom of conscience, movements for moral and spiritual values, anti-racism, and anti-war themes. A unique aspect of the company is that it relies solely on the donations of its supporters, and thus does not accept any funds from the government or advertising companies. While the Real News uses Internet broadcasting, it has a contract with both satellite and cable television channels once it gets enough followers (the goal being 50,000 supporters).

In an interview with Paul Jay, he talks about the website and why he chose the name, “The Real News”, and how it differs from mainstream news outlets such as Fox News. He believes that there are no truly “bad” journalists, but that their whole economic model shapes the way that the news is being covered. Upon analyzing the way TRNN handles news on people in high office, it is clear that they seek out facts that matter as opposed to delivering news that specific audiences or interlocutors want to hear. By doing this, their goal is to trigger debate that covers a wide range of aspects on an issue, while avoiding personal attacks and partisan comments without substance. Also, in order to maintain an effective network, they operate their own forums where their stories and reports can be debated and critically analyzed. This way, the company is well aware of any of their own biases. To avoid these biases, Jay formed a team of 5 well-trained and experienced journalists from all over the world. In an effort to expand the website and make t more relevant to its followers, they are planning to host reports from volunteer-based citizen journalism in a specific independent portion of the network’s website.

With the role of the media in our society changing each day, consumers are becoming much more reliant on the television and the World Wide Web. With the portability and efficiency of streaming videos and news coverage at the click of a mouse, the Internet is becoming more and more popular and much more difficult to compete with. One of these competitors is the newspaper. According to Chapter 5 in the Converging Media book, newspapers in their current printed form are becoming less important as primary sources of news and they continue to suffer staff reductions.


For this project, we decided to analyze the very relevant and pressing issue of the Libyan Revolt. We compared the covered of the Real News Network to a much more mainstream network, Fox News. TRNN provided a 3-minute video covering the story, and Fox News came out with an 8-10 paragraph publication of the report. In the coverage by the Real News, they spent a large portion of the video showing violent clips and real footage of the uprising, while talking about general facts surrounding the issue. Fox News, on the other hand, published an in-depth report on the specific interactions between Libyan government leaders and the citizens and protesters. Fox News Network provided many facts in their report that was not covered by TRNN. In this report, they note that Gaddafi’s son is denying the fact that hundreds of people have been killed amongst the turmoil (a fact that can be proven). In the video provided by TRNN, there were videos of small clips of hundreds of people in crowds showing explosions and gun-fire, where injury and death is sure to be present. Fox News even goes on to mention that Libyan forces fired machine guns into crowds of thousands of mourners at a funeral; people that clearly are not protesting or posing any threat. They also state that there is a media blackout in Libya, which means that information current happenings must come through phone interviews, videos, and online messages. As a result of this, it has become extremely difficult to provide an accurate estimate on how many people were actually killed. The Real News Network provided no information regarding this important and relevant fact. The Real News Network states that their primary goal is to provide factual information to their supporters, as opposed to opinionated statements and biases. However, they do mention in the short 3-minute video that they provide, that Gaddafi is supposedly, “the cruelest tyrant in the Arab world”. Clearly, this statement is far from factual as it can be heavily debated and represents only the opinion of that journalist. This does not logically coincide with the network’s mission statement. TRNN claims that they are unique, and they do not present information that large groups of people can agree with. However, this comment sounds a lot like what can be found in an article on the same topic by The Washington Post, saying that Mohammar Gaddafi is “one of the Middle East’s most evil men”.

In an effort to legitimize their position, the Real News Network uses a few different strategies to support their coverage. First, the main source of evidence to go along with their facts is that they provide videos and visuals to support their claims. Their coverage definitely fits into the traditional communication of breaking news, with an oral report or story while showing clips at the relevant location. In this story, TRNN shows real footage of the violence that is ongoing in Libya. Next, the network brings more support to their reports by bringing in experts on the specific topics and having them share their knowledge. In covering the Libya revolt, they include a short interview with a Libyan analyst, Shashank Joshi, who shares insights on the mass defections and the protests that have “infiltrated the heart of Gaddafi’s regime”.

TRNN provided another video on the 23rd, basically stating the same things that were stated in the first video, while providing a video clip of Gaddafi himself speaking on the issue. The information he claims is an efficient follow-up to their previous video, because it ended in talking about Qaddafi’s important decision that he is facing regarding all of the protestors and the future of the country. He pledges that he will not leave the land and will crush protestors and die a martyr.

Moammar Gaddafi speaks at a press conference.

BBC News

Upon reviewing our research, we found that the major difference between this news network and the larger networks is not really found as much in content for the two networks we covered. There is definitely different delivery and differences in facts presented, but overall, we did not find that the coverage was as “unique” as they claimed. Utilizing the video evidence as support, they definitely set themselves apart. Other mainstream media uses video cilps too, but sometimes they just play the same clip over and over while they talk about the issue for an hour. TRRN shows clips that are straight to the point and relate to what they are talking about. They don’t extend the footage just to take up the primetime hour. The major difference that we found between the companies is the fact that TRNN is run solely by the support and donations of its followers, whereas a large network such as Fox News has the support of advertising through broadcasting on television. The Real News Network has a good system going mainly because of its efficiency as a website, video streaming interface. TRNN has un “unfinished” or “unpolished” look making it look less mainstream. There are not millions of dollars put in for a news report on TRNN. Fox News, on the other hand, looks very professional. The music is perfect and editing is perfect and the stories are generally greater in length. But the short, straight-to-the-point style of TRNN could prove to be powerful in the future…if people get tired of seeing the same story repeated over and over again on mainstream stations. However, it has a long ways to go to reach the status of Fox, CBS, or PBS; as it still needs thousands and thousands of followers to donate and support the network if it wants to not only succeed, but progress, and develop itself as well known news source.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. mtl1690
    February 24, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    This looks great! Here are a few suggestions for a some subtle changes. Go back though and read your paper aloud. There are some places where the sentences don’t flow clearly, and in some cases you just need to remove/add a comma. Also maybe provide a background of the story that the two articles cover just so the reader understands what’s going on before you compare the media sources. I liked the links in your paper but see if you can add them as hyperlinks so they don’t disrupt the text. Great job, and good luck editing!

  2. March 2, 2011 at 4:01 am

    Good first draft. Check your links & spelling. Rather than putting Wikipedia in parentheses at the end of the paragraph, be sure to embed your links into the story where appropriate for the next version so as to improve the flow of the article (and help the reader locate where you’re citing from as we’re reading along). I think Liz has offered some good suggestions to improve flow and comprehension, as well.

    Rather than noting that real news provides video and images to support their claims (which any tv news outlet would do), can you say more about which images are selected and why you think those are shown? This will help you to say more about how the frames differed in terms of how the news was presented in each case. Which experts do they bring in, and how does what those experts say lend support to the way each news outlet frames the story? You note that there are “definitely differences in delivery and in facts presented, but not in content.” For this assignment, please point more specifically to those differences and how they might encourage a reader to take away one message from one news story and a different one from another. For instance, perhaps Fox’s frame is “more violence and more suppression in the Middle East,” whereas the RNN is offering compare/contrast in differing Middle Eastern contexts and providing interpretation of possible differing outcomes in Libya, Bahrain, and Egypt. I see more context in the RNN story; can you tell us a bit about that and how it shapes the frame for RNN?

    It also sounds like you like the fact that RNN is less reliant upon the commercial model. Do you feel like this is evident in the framing in some way? I think you could argue that RNN has more of an alternative, unpolished “look” that helps to support its image as more of an on-the-ground news source that is at some distance from the biased professional news outlets. Are there other ways in which RNN breaks the expectations for production that one might expect from mainstream news (e.g., I see more reliance on stock footage and insertion of longer interviews with experts, for instance)?

    You can offer more detail to flesh out how the frames work. Good first go!

  3. Jackson
    November 29, 2011 at 4:15 am

    The TRNN clips you chose are reprints from Ch4, a UK commercial news outfit. I assume TRNN does this to provide wider coverage. But if you watch TRNN’s own coverage, you will find a night and day difference in their coverage of Libya and most other issues. I think you need to take another go at this.

  1. March 13, 2011 at 8:13 pm

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