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What is news?

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What is news? What is news? Presentation Transcript

  • What is News?
  • What is news? News is difficult to define because it has many variables, but you ’ll need to determine what’s newsworthy when deciding what to write about for your story assignments
    • This slideshow will discuss what makes something newsworthy…
    • News must be factual, yet not all facts are news.
    • News must be factual.
    • News is based on actual occurrences, situations, thoughts and ideas.
    • Yet not all facts are news.
  • Journalists can ’t write fiction or make up things that didn ’t happen Stephen Glass, a star Young reporter at the New Republic was fired for fabricating dozens of his magazine stories. The movie “Shattered Glass” recounts the scandal. L.A. Times photojournalist Brian Walski was fired after editors discovered that he used his computer to manipulate this front page photo to look more nefarious than what actually happened.
  • Misleading and misrepresentation is also frowned upon … Shirley Sherrod was forced to resign from her U.S. Dept. of Agriculture job after blogger Andrew Breitbart posted deceptively edited video excerpts of Sherrod's address at an event to his website
  • But, sometimes their sources do lie – and that ’s news….
    • News may be opinion, especially that of a prominent person or an authority on a particular subject.
  • You may not agree with their opinions, but when Obama or Palin speak, people pay attention.
    • But reporters must be careful to keep their own opinions out of their stories.
    • News is primarily about people, what they say and do.
    • News is not necessarily a report of a recent event, as stated in most dictionaries.
  • For example, a faculty meeting per se is NOT news. But the president announcing at the meeting that there ’s going to be a tuition hike IS news.
    • What is news for one college or community may not be news for another.
  • Hofstra rape case was big news in Long Island, but probably not news in Oklahoma
  • On the other hand, the snowstorm in Oklahoma on the same day was big news there, but not in Long Island
    • What is news today may not be news tomorrow.
  • Duke’s last second win over UNC was big news Wednesday night and Thursday morning, but by Friday people were talking about the next game.
    • What is news for one person may not be news for another person.
  • For a 13-year-old boy, biggest news may be a new skate park. For 70-year-old, it may be a social security proposal
    • Two factors necessary to news – interest and importance – are not always synonymous.
  • The situation in Darfur is important, but who cares? Letterman ’s affairs were of high interest, but were they really news?
  • Hard News and Soft News Journalists today often refer to “hard” news and “soft” news.
    • Hard news:
    • is important to large numbers of people
    • is timely
    • usually about events in government, politics, foreign affairs, education, labor, religion, courts, etc.
  •  
  • The new, daily developments in the 2012 presidential race are hard. Which Republican will win the next primary election?
    • Soft news:
    • usually less important because it entertains, although it may also inform
    • often less timely than hard news
    • includes human interest and feature stories which may relate to hard news
    • appeals more to emotions than to the intellect or the desire to be informed
  • Soft News: The Village Voice ran a story the week before Valentine ’s Day on single women in NYC.
  • Hard news, despite its importance, usually attracts fewer readers because it may not be as interesting as soft news or may be more difficult to understand.
  • Readers may not understand its significance. Reporters must be careful to include information to help the reader understand what the story means.
  • Readers might avoid stories like this because they involve complicated info, insider ’s info and/or things they can’t relate to
  • Many stories are a combination of hard and soft news, and may present some of the information in sidebars and infographics.
  • For example, many stories about the Super Bowl combined hard news (e.g. Giants beat Patriots) with soft news (e.g. anecdotes about Tom Brady’s wife, Giselle, blasting his receivers .) .
    • News must be interesting.
    • But not all facts are interesting.
    • Different facts will be interesting to different readers.
  • News has qualities that distinguish it from nearly all other forms of writing.
  • I. It must be accurate.
  • Factual accuracy
    • Every statement
    • every name
    • every date
    • every age
    • every address
    • every quote
  • Accuracy of General Impression The general impression--the way the details are put together and what type of emphasis is put on the details--should be accurate. Reporters should not distort the importance of a fact by giving it too much attention.
    • Accuracy is difficult to achieve because
    • there are so many facts that go into a story
    • reporters must work fast to meet deadlines
    • many people are involved in producing the finished story: the reporter, copy editor, section editors, layout & design people, etc.
  • Reporters must work hard to achieve accuracy. They must check, double-check and re-check every fact.
    • Reporters must question their sources carefully .
    • Informants sometimes misinform, although rarely on purpose.
    • College journalists sometimes don ’t ask the right questions to get the information they need for a story.
    • Professionals miss opportunities, too. The press was criticized for not being more skeptical of the Bush Administration’s claims that Iraq had WMDs.
  •  
  • II. News is balanced.
  • Balance in a news story is a matter of emphasis and completeness. Reporters must give each fact its proper emphasis, putting it into its proper relationship to every other fact and establishing its relative importance to the main idea or focus of the story.
  • News is considered balanced and complete when all significant details are included and have proper relationship to each other. The purpose of balance is to give the reader a fair understanding of the event, not a detailed account of every fact.
  • III. News is objective.
    • News is a factual report, not a report of how the reporter thought something should have been.
    • A reporter must report news as impartially and honestly as possible.
    • Objectivity is difficult to achieve because a reporter ’s own opinions and feelings can easily interfere with factual presentation in stories.
  • IV. News is concise and clear.
  • Hard news stories almost always follow the inverted pyramid and are written concisely and clearly so that the meaning is clear to an average reader.
  • Inverted Pyramid Most important facts Next most important Next most important Next
  • Soft news stories, however, usually utilize other story structures, which will be discussed in a future lesson.
  • V. News is recent.
  • Timeliness is of major importance in this era of fast communication. Other factors being equal, a news editor will choose one story over another because of its timeliness.
  • News elements help to make facts interesting to people.
    • Immediacy or timeliness
    • Most essential element of news
    • Reporters emphasize most recent or newest angle of story.
  • In the age of Twitter, news can get old very quickly…. Even though Rolling Stone broke the story about General McChrystal first, it was old news by the time the magazine actually hit the stands. In fact, some media outlets published Rolling Stone ’s story online before they did!
  • Proximity Readers are more interested in an event geographically near them than in one far removed
  • Reporters emphasize the local angle whenever possible
  • Readers will care much more about legislation passed by state lawmakers if it means their community is getting a new bridge or library.
    • Consequence
    • A story that affects every reader will have more consequence than one that affects only a few.
  • Sept. 11 was an international tragedy that affected people well beyond Manhattan
  • Reporters emphasize the angle of the story that will impact most readers
  • The Census affected the entire country, but certain info is more relevant to a particular community
    • Prominence
    • Names make news. Include as many as possible.
  • The more prominent a particular name, place, event or situation, the more interest the story will have.
  • A congressman engaging in unseemly behavior will attract more interest than if an everyday person does the same thing
  • 50 percent of Americans get divorces, but only celebrity divorces (or rumors of them) make headlines.
    • Drama
    • adds color and vitality to a story.
    • The more dramatic a story, the more appealing it is to the readers.
  • Mystery, suspense, comedy, the unusual, the bizarre are chief elements of drama.
  • Will an asteroid strike Earth? Stay tuned…
    • Oddity/ Unusualness
    • The greater the degree of unusualness in a story, the greater its news value.
  •  
  • “ Firsts”, “lasts”, and “onlys” have been staples of newspapers since the 19th century.
    • Conflict
    • appears frequently in news stories.
    • Inherent in sports stories, war news, crime news, violence, domestic disputes, government bodies.
  •  
    • Conflict
    • can be physical or mental. (Ideas can be in conflict).
    • Can involve man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. animal or animal vs. animal.
    • Sex
    • news element present in stories of romance, marriage, divorce and other relationships.
  • The treatment of sex varies widely from publication to publication.
  • Mainstream media outlets initially passed up chances to report political sex scandals
    • Emotions, instincts
    • Readers enjoy stories that appeal to their emotions.
  • Generally the most widely read stories in the newspaper, and most widely discussed of those heard on radio or television.
    • Stories about the home-less, babies needing trans-plants, a 4-year-old girl abandoned in freezing wea-ther who must have her legs amputated, baby girls rescued from wells, some-one winning the lottery
    • Progress
    • Involves any significant change for the betterment of mankind.
    • May refer to achievement in the laboratory, industrial plant, legislative body, etc.
  • May refer to success in treating AIDS patients, etc.
    • Impact
    • How will a particular event affect the readers?
    • Similar to consequence, but stronger, more personal
  • A number of factors modify the importance of news elements in actual practice.
    • The policy of a news publication may increase or decrease the importance of a story.
    • The class of readers may determine what is news for a publi-cation.
    • The amount of space available may determine if a particular story is told briefly or in detail.
  • Timing may alter the value of a news story. All news is in competition with the news available at the moment.
    • Previous publication may change a story ’s value.
    • Censorship, particularly in war time or times of national crisis, may change news value, sometimes keeping stories from being published for long periods of time.
  • The more of these aforementioned elements – timeliness, impact, prominence, weirdness, etc. – something has, the more likely it is to be considered news.
  • The events in Egyptian had it all – conflict, suspense, timeliness, consequence, progress, etc.
  • Who determines what ’s news? "The real issue is new media versus old media. New media outlets view ourselves as a source that can be used by our visitors. The old media mentality sees itself as a gatekeeper who determines what information is appropriate to share."
  • What is news?
        • They prefer news about serious issues and major events. 63%
        • They prefer crime and celebrity news. 24%
        • The media is out of touch with average Americans. 48%
        • They find the news depressing. 84%
        • They find the news negative. 77%
        • They find the news sensational. 58%
    • News by the numbers
      • Americans who say:
  • And yet, Americans devour stories like Tiger Woods ’ affairs and Michael Jackson’s death…
  • While important stories like the first black president taking office, Wall Street corruption, healthcare reform and the recession get ignored..
  • What is news?
        • Have little or no interest in politics. 42%
      • Journalists who say:
        • They often avoid running stories readers think are important but dull. 77%
        • They sometimes ignore stories because readers might find them too complex. 52%
    • News by the numbers
      • Americans under the age of 30 who say they:
  • What readers want
      • Some journalists dismiss “pandering” to readers.
      • Smart journalists adjust
        • To tastes.
        • To reading habits.
        • To news appetites.
    You might write terrific stories, but they ’re worthless if nobody reads them
  • What readers want
      • We ask them.
      • We watch them.
        • Focus groups
        • Phone, mail and Web surveys
        • Monitoring devices
        • Web analytics
    So how do we know what readers read?
      • And more
        • Ethnography
        • Sales/Web views
        • Reader response
        • Anecdotal feedback
        • Social media ( “diggs,” “likes”)
  • The End