Globalisation of News: News Agencies

Boyd Barrett’s Definition of the News

  • Information as a commodity is gathered for three purposes: Political Communication, Trade and Pleasure.
  • The history of the news is an important part of the construction of national identities; the spread of imperialism and the control of colonies, plus an essential part of day to day financial affairs.

‘The collection and dissemination of this commodity was organised and rationalised on behalf of media and non-media clients by a small group of powerful agencies, acting globally and as a cartel.

News Agencies

These play an important role in the globalisation and commodification of the news. They represent models of multinational or transnational media enterprise. News agencies provide a model for exploring a number of core issues surrounding models of business practise, professional ethics and clientism.

There is an increasing concentration and demonology of ownership (economic factor). The global dominance of media by companies is largely in the Global North (political factor). The ideological influence established across Asia and Africa is a result of direct political rule during the period of European colonialism.

Boyd-Barrett argues that the operations of global news agencies enable us to see the workings of imperialism, ideologically as well as economically.


The Agencies (1980s) – United Press International, Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France Presse. Providing 90% of international news coverage. Then there is also TASS which is a Russian news agency.

News agency news is considered wholesale resource material. The can sell their product. They try to avoid controversy and have therefore been ‘barely visible actors in analysis of print and broadcast news’.

Early Theory

  • 19th century agencies were viewed as hidden but powerful.
  • Reuters was viewed as a propaganda tool by the German state during World War One.
  • In the 1930s Reuters was viewed as of relevant interest to British economic interests.
  • Moving towards the second world war, news agencies were considered powerful, influential, vehicles of propaganda and examples of technological professionalism.

Teri Rantanen

News Agencies considered as Cartels


‘In 19th century when global agencies divided up the news market, Australia was Reuters domain. When they established an office in Australia, Australian newspaper proprietors formed the Australian Associated Press which would sell Reuters news to other news outlets’.

1911 – Keith Murdoch argued that there was a need for Australians in London to collect the news.

During the 1930s cartels were renegotiated. They were still powerful though, and controlled the flow of the news.

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientifc and Cultural Organisation)


In the 1970s, News agencies were agents of globalisation in New World Information and Communication Order. The term was coined during debates on media representation in the developing world.

MC Bride Report



Following the McBride report UNESCO focused more support on national and intergovernmental news agencies.

Can a national news agency serve as a Public Service Institution? 

Boyd Barrett argued that the news that is gathered tended to be in support of elites. National agencies acted as funnels for the ‘big four’ in the 1970s.

The Agencies (2000s) – Reuters, Agence France Presse, Deutche Press Agency, EFE – Spanish language news agency. On TV – Reuters World Television, WTN, APTV and globally these include: CNN and BBC. There is a more complex pattern that confuses wholesale and retail and a framwork in which TV news is increasingly valued over press coverage.

The News Has Been Globalised.

‘We want to say that ‘globalization’ is in its very essence a process of dialectic, not least between the local, national, regional and global, a process of conflict and struggle both among the agencies of globalization and  the alleged subjects of globalization.’

These notes are from my year two semester one lectures and seminars.
The images are from my year two semester one news media lecture as well as:, and

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