What is news?
An overview of what journalists do
and why they do it
Definitions of news
• Timeliness
Definitions of news
• Timeliness
• Impact
Definitions of news
• Timeliness
• Impact
• Proximity
Definitions of news
•
•
•
•

Timeliness
Impact
Proximity
Controversy
Definitions of news
•
•
•
•
•

Timeliness
Impact
Proximity
Controversy
Prominence
Definitions of news
•
•
•
•
•
•

Timeliness
Impact
Proximity
Controversy
Prominence
Currency
Definitions of news
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Timeliness
Impact
Proximity
Controversy
Prominence
Currency
Oddity
Two broad types of news
• Hard news
Two broad types of news
• Hard news
– War
Two broad types of news
• Hard news
– War
– Natural disaster
Two broad types of news
• Hard news
– War
– Natural disaster
– Politics
Two broad types of news
• Hard news
–
–
–
–

War
Natural disaster
Politics
Economics
Two broad types of news
• Hard news
–
–
–
–
–

War
Natural disaster
Politics
Economics
Crime
Two broad types of news
• Hard news
• Soft news
– Celebrities
Two broad types of news
• Hard news
• Soft news
– Celebrities
– Arts and
entertainment
Two broad types of news
• Hard news
• Soft news
– Celebrities
– Arts and
entertainment
– Human interest
Two broad types of news
• Hard news
• Soft news
– Celebrities
– Arts and
entertainment
– Human interest
– Sports
Two broad types of news
• Hard news
• Soft news
– Celebrities
– Arts and
entertainment
– Human interest
– Sports
– Lifesty...
Sources of news
• External events
Sources of news
• External events
– Disasters
Sources of news
• External events
– Disasters
– Accidents
Sources of news
• External events
– Disasters
– Accidents
– War
Sources of news
• External events
• Planned activities
Sources of news
• External events
• Planned activities
– Meetings
Sources of news
• External events
• Planned activities
– Meetings
– News conferences
Sources of news
• External events
• Planned activities
– Meetings
– News conferences
– Demonstrations
Sources of news
• External events
• Planned activities
• Enterprise
– Public records
Sources of news
• External events
• Planned activities
• Enterprise
– Public records
– Tips from sources
Sources of news
• External events
• Planned activities
• Enterprise
– Public records
– Tips from sources
– Connecting the ...
Fairness and neutrality
• A journalist must strive to be independent
Fairness and neutrality
• A journalist must strive to be independent
• The rise of objectivity
Fairness and neutrality
• A journalist must strive to be independent
• The rise of objectivity
• The problem of “balance”
Fairness and neutrality
•
•
•
•

A journalist must strive to be independent
The rise of objectivity
The problem of “balanc...
Fairness and neutrality
•
•
•
•

A journalist must strive to be independent
The rise of objectivity
The problem of “balanc...
Fairness and neutrality
•
•
•
•

A journalist must strive to be independent
The rise of objectivity
The problem of “balanc...
Elements of a news story
Elements of a news story
• Who?
Elements of a news story
• Who?
• What?
Elements of a news story
• Who?
• What?
• Where?
Elements of a news story
•
•
•
•

Who?
What?
Where?
When?
Elements of a news story
•
•
•
•
•

Who?
What?
Where?
When?
Why?
Elements of a news story
•
•
•
•
•
•

Who?
What?
Where?
When?
Why?
How?
What is journalism for?
• “The primary purpose of journalism is to
provide citizens with the information they
need to be f...
What is journalism for?
• “The primary purpose of journalism is to
provide citizens with the information they
need to be f...
First Amendment
• “Congress shall make no law … abridging the
freedom of speech, or of the press.”
First Amendment
• “Congress shall make no law … abridging the
freedom of speech, or of the press.”
• Does this suggest a s...
First Amendment
• “Congress shall make no law … abridging the
freedom of speech, or of the press.”
• Does this suggest a s...
First Amendment
• “Congress shall make no law … abridging the
freedom of speech, or of the press.”
• Does this suggest a s...
Journalism as a profession
• Does the First Amendment allow for
journalism to be considered a profession?
Journalism as a profession
• Does the First Amendment allow for
journalism to be considered a profession?
• Does the First...
Journalism as a profession
• Does the First Amendment allow for
journalism to be considered a profession?
• Does the First...
Journalism as a profession
• Does the First Amendment allow for
journalism to be considered a profession?
• Does the First...
Jack Kelley
• Foreign reporter for
USA Today
• Fabricated details of
war reportage
• Lost his job and is out
of journalism
Mike Barnicle
• Columnist for
The Boston Globe
• Survived repeated
instances of
plagiarism and
fabrication
• Lost job, but...
Credit
• Much of this presentation is based on an essay
by Deborah Potter titled “What Is News?”
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What Is News?

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An overview of what journalists do and why they do it.

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What Is News?

  1. 1. What is news? An overview of what journalists do and why they do it
  2. 2. Definitions of news • Timeliness
  3. 3. Definitions of news • Timeliness • Impact
  4. 4. Definitions of news • Timeliness • Impact • Proximity
  5. 5. Definitions of news • • • • Timeliness Impact Proximity Controversy
  6. 6. Definitions of news • • • • • Timeliness Impact Proximity Controversy Prominence
  7. 7. Definitions of news • • • • • • Timeliness Impact Proximity Controversy Prominence Currency
  8. 8. Definitions of news • • • • • • • Timeliness Impact Proximity Controversy Prominence Currency Oddity
  9. 9. Two broad types of news • Hard news
  10. 10. Two broad types of news • Hard news – War
  11. 11. Two broad types of news • Hard news – War – Natural disaster
  12. 12. Two broad types of news • Hard news – War – Natural disaster – Politics
  13. 13. Two broad types of news • Hard news – – – – War Natural disaster Politics Economics
  14. 14. Two broad types of news • Hard news – – – – – War Natural disaster Politics Economics Crime
  15. 15. Two broad types of news • Hard news • Soft news – Celebrities
  16. 16. Two broad types of news • Hard news • Soft news – Celebrities – Arts and entertainment
  17. 17. Two broad types of news • Hard news • Soft news – Celebrities – Arts and entertainment – Human interest
  18. 18. Two broad types of news • Hard news • Soft news – Celebrities – Arts and entertainment – Human interest – Sports
  19. 19. Two broad types of news • Hard news • Soft news – Celebrities – Arts and entertainment – Human interest – Sports – Lifestyle
  20. 20. Sources of news • External events
  21. 21. Sources of news • External events – Disasters
  22. 22. Sources of news • External events – Disasters – Accidents
  23. 23. Sources of news • External events – Disasters – Accidents – War
  24. 24. Sources of news • External events • Planned activities
  25. 25. Sources of news • External events • Planned activities – Meetings
  26. 26. Sources of news • External events • Planned activities – Meetings – News conferences
  27. 27. Sources of news • External events • Planned activities – Meetings – News conferences – Demonstrations
  28. 28. Sources of news • External events • Planned activities • Enterprise – Public records
  29. 29. Sources of news • External events • Planned activities • Enterprise – Public records – Tips from sources
  30. 30. Sources of news • External events • Planned activities • Enterprise – Public records – Tips from sources – Connecting the dots
  31. 31. Fairness and neutrality • A journalist must strive to be independent
  32. 32. Fairness and neutrality • A journalist must strive to be independent • The rise of objectivity
  33. 33. Fairness and neutrality • A journalist must strive to be independent • The rise of objectivity • The problem of “balance”
  34. 34. Fairness and neutrality • • • • A journalist must strive to be independent The rise of objectivity The problem of “balance” Opinion journalism
  35. 35. Fairness and neutrality • • • • A journalist must strive to be independent The rise of objectivity The problem of “balance” Opinion journalism – First obligation is to readers/viewers/listeners
  36. 36. Fairness and neutrality • • • • A journalist must strive to be independent The rise of objectivity The problem of “balance” Opinion journalism – First obligation is to readers/viewers/listeners – Opinionated but not partisan
  37. 37. Elements of a news story
  38. 38. Elements of a news story • Who?
  39. 39. Elements of a news story • Who? • What?
  40. 40. Elements of a news story • Who? • What? • Where?
  41. 41. Elements of a news story • • • • Who? What? Where? When?
  42. 42. Elements of a news story • • • • • Who? What? Where? When? Why?
  43. 43. Elements of a news story • • • • • • Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?
  44. 44. What is journalism for? • “The primary purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with the information they need to be free and self-governing” – Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel
  45. 45. What is journalism for? • “The primary purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with the information they need to be free and self-governing” – Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel • Why such a high-minded definition?
  46. 46. First Amendment • “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”
  47. 47. First Amendment • “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” • Does this suggest a social obligation on the part of the press?
  48. 48. First Amendment • “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” • Does this suggest a social obligation on the part of the press? • Can that obligation be enforced by the government?
  49. 49. First Amendment • “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” • Does this suggest a social obligation on the part of the press? • Can that obligation be enforced by the government? • Is the press the only entity that can exercise that First Amendment responsibility?
  50. 50. Journalism as a profession • Does the First Amendment allow for journalism to be considered a profession?
  51. 51. Journalism as a profession • Does the First Amendment allow for journalism to be considered a profession? • Does the First Amendment offer special protections for journalists?
  52. 52. Journalism as a profession • Does the First Amendment allow for journalism to be considered a profession? • Does the First Amendment offer special protections for journalists? • Do the media have common elements?
  53. 53. Journalism as a profession • Does the First Amendment allow for journalism to be considered a profession? • Does the First Amendment offer special protections for journalists? • Do the media have common elements? • Can wrongdoers be sanctioned?
  54. 54. Jack Kelley • Foreign reporter for USA Today • Fabricated details of war reportage • Lost his job and is out of journalism
  55. 55. Mike Barnicle • Columnist for The Boston Globe • Survived repeated instances of plagiarism and fabrication • Lost job, but remains in journalism
  56. 56. Credit • Much of this presentation is based on an essay by Deborah Potter titled “What Is News?”
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