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Journalists as selectors:
Gatekeeping, news values, framing,
sourcing, peace journalism
JN2042 Journalism Theory
Week 4, 1...
Q: How do you
know which
stuff is news?

A: Don’t know.
It’s just instinct.
Q: How do
journalists
know which
stuff is news?
A: They learn from
other journalists
A: They follow the
unwritten rules of...
Gatekeeping

How decide:
• This is news -- allowed through the gate
• That is not news -- not allowed through the gate?
Ne...
News values
•
•
•

•
•
•
•
•
•
•

The Power Elite: Stories about powerful individuals, organisations or institutions.
Cele...
Other factors affecting story selection
• A topic that won’t get the journalist arrested
• A topic that can be covered che...
Are news values …
• Neutral, objective?
• Biased to the status quo and the powerful?
‘Accidental bias’ caused by working
methods (Tuchman)
e.g. News Frames (journalists call them ‘angles’)
2 Israeli frames f...
http://news.sky.com/story/1153885
Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshipers Dead
Indian devotees fall into a river and drown after panic spreads at
a spot wh...
Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshipers Dead
Indian devotees fall into a river and drown after panic spreads at
a spot wh...
http://news.sky.com/story/1153885
Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshippers Dead
Possible frames
Too few police
Innocent worshippers
Rumours caused panic
Po...
Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshippers Dead
Possible frames
Too few police
Innocent worshippers
Rumours caused panic
Po...
Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshippers Dead
Possible frames
Too few police
Innocent worshippers
Rumours caused panic
Po...
Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshippers Dead
Possible frames
Too few police
Innocent worshippers
Rumours caused panic
Po...
Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshippers Dead
Possible frames
Too few police
Innocent worshippers
Rumours caused panic
Po...
Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshippers Dead
Possible frames
Too few police
Innocent worshippers
Rumours caused panic
Po...
Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshippers Dead
Possible frames
Too few police
Innocent worshippers
Rumours caused panic
Po...
Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshippers Dead
Possible frames
Too few police
Innocent worshippers
Rumours caused panic
Po...
‘Accidental bias’ caused by working
methods (Tuchman)
e.g. News Sources
Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshippers Dead
Sources for frames
Too few police
Innocent worshippers
Rumours caused panic...
Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshippers Dead
Sources for frames
• Mainly official, powerful people
• Easy to contact
• T...
All sources are not equal
Journalists distinguish between …
‘Arbiter’ sources, who set terms
of debate and are seen as
dis...
Journalism for war or peace?
Unintended consequences of
journalistic work habits
Journalists need …

Peacemakers need …
Journalism for war or peace?
Unintended consequences of
journalistic work habits
Journalists need …

Peacemakers need …

I...
Journalism for war or peace?
Unintended consequences of
journalistic work habits
Journalists need …

Peacemakers need …

I...
Journalism for war or peace?
Unintended consequences of
journalistic work habits
Journalists need …

Peacemakers need …

I...
Journalism for war or peace?
Unintended consequences of
journalistic work habits
Journalists need …

Peacemakers need …

I...
Journalism for war or peace?
Unintended consequences of
journalistic work habits
Journalists need …

Peacemakers need …

I...
Factors in media impact on
peacemaking
(1) amount of consensus among political elites
in support of peace
(2) number and i...
Israel/Palestine vs. Northern Ireland
Factor

Israel/
Palestine

Northern
Ireland

Consensus for peace among political
eli...
Powerful sources affect news frames
Elite consensus

1 news
frame

Elite conflict

Competing
news
frames
Journalist as selector
Gatekeeper

Selecting bits of reality,
making them news
But … The best
journalists seek
out less po...
News values, gatekeeping, framing, agenda-setting and peace journalism
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News values, gatekeeping, framing, agenda-setting and peace journalism

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Lecture slides for Week 5 of module JN2042, International Journalism Theory, at University of Central Lancashire, UK

Published in: Education, News & Politics
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News values, gatekeeping, framing, agenda-setting and peace journalism

  1. 1. Journalists as selectors: Gatekeeping, news values, framing, sourcing, peace journalism JN2042 Journalism Theory Week 4, 15/18 Oct 2013
  2. 2. Q: How do you know which stuff is news? A: Don’t know. It’s just instinct.
  3. 3. Q: How do journalists know which stuff is news? A: They learn from other journalists A: They follow the unwritten rules of news values
  4. 4. Gatekeeping How decide: • This is news -- allowed through the gate • That is not news -- not allowed through the gate? News values (Galtung & Ruge; O’Neill & Harcup)
  5. 5. News values • • • • • • • • • • The Power Elite: Stories about powerful individuals, organisations or institutions. Celebrity: Stories concerning people who are already famous. Entertainment: Stories about sex, showbiz, human interest, animals, an unfolding drama, or offering opportunities for humorous treatment, entertaining photos or witty headlines. Surprise: Stories that have an element of surprise and/or contrast. Bad News: Stories with particularly negative overtones, such as conflict or tragedy. Good News: Stories with particularly positive overtones such as rescues and cures. Magnitude: Stories that are perceived as suffi ciently signifi cant either in the numbers of people involved or in the potential impact. Relevance: Stories about issues, groups and nations perceived to be relevant to the audience. Follow-up: Stories about subjects already in the news. Newspaper Agenda: Stories that set or fit the news organization’s own agenda. Harcup & O’Neill (2001)
  6. 6. Other factors affecting story selection • A topic that won’t get the journalist arrested • A topic that can be covered cheaply • A topic supporting the national interest
  7. 7. Are news values … • Neutral, objective? • Biased to the status quo and the powerful?
  8. 8. ‘Accidental bias’ caused by working methods (Tuchman) e.g. News Frames (journalists call them ‘angles’) 2 Israeli frames for Israel-Palestine conflict: • Peace process • Security/terrorism Both are true – which one do journalists emphasise?
  9. 9. http://news.sky.com/story/1153885
  10. 10. Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshipers Dead Indian devotees fall into a river and drown after panic spreads at a spot where 500,000 people had gathered for a Hindu festival. Possible frames: • Tragic accident • Police stupidity kills worshippers • Chaotic organisation leads to temple deaths • Deadly stampedes keep happening, no one stops them
  11. 11. Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshipers Dead Indian devotees fall into a river and drown after panic spreads at a spot where 500,000 people had gathered for a Hindu festival. Possible frames: • Tragic accident • Police stupidity kills worshippers • Chaotic organisation leads to temple deaths • Deadly stampedes keep happening, no one stops them
  12. 12. http://news.sky.com/story/1153885
  13. 13. Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshippers Dead Possible frames Too few police Innocent worshippers Rumours caused panic Poor crowd control 2nd deadly stampede in 7 years Corruption Politicians distracted by elections Proof there is no god Police to blame Greedy, careless temple authorities Politicians distracted by electioneering More than 100 dead Judicial inquiry launched Grief Bridge rebuilt after 2007 stampede Previous deadly stampedes Tragic accident Worshippers to blame Prime Minister’s sadness
  14. 14. Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshippers Dead Possible frames Too few police Innocent worshippers Rumours caused panic Poor crowd control 2nd deadly stampede in 7 years Corruption Politicians distracted by elections Proof there is no god Police to blame Greedy, careless temple authorities Politicians distracted by electioneering More than 100 dead Judicial inquiry launched Grief Bridge rebuilt after 2007 stampede Previous deadly stampedes TRAGIC ACCIDENT Worshippers to blame Prime Minister’s sadness
  15. 15. Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshippers Dead Possible frames Too few police Innocent worshippers Rumours caused panic Poor crowd control 2nd deadly stampede in 7 years Corruption Politicians distracted by elections Proof there is no god Police to blame Greedy, careless temple authorities Politicians distracted by electioneering More than 100 dead Judicial inquiry launched Grief Bridge rebuilt after 2007 stampede Previous deadly stampedes TRAGIC ACCIDENT Worshippers to blame Prime Minister’s sadness
  16. 16. Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshippers Dead Possible frames Too few police Innocent worshippers Rumours caused panic Poor crowd control 2nd deadly stampede in 7 years Corruption Politicians distracted by elections Proof there is no god Police to blame Greedy, careless temple authorities Politicians distracted by electioneering More than 100 dead Judicial inquiry launched Grief Bridge rebuilt after 2007 stampede Previous deadly stampedes TRAGIC ACCIDENT Worshippers to blame Prime Minister’s sadness
  17. 17. Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshippers Dead Possible frames Too few police Innocent worshippers Rumours caused panic Poor crowd control 2nd deadly stampede in 7 years Corruption Politicians distracted by elections Proof there is no god Police to blame Greedy, careless temple authorities Politicians distracted by electioneering More than 100 dead Judicial inquiry launched Grief Bridge rebuilt after 2007 stampede Previous deadly stampedes TRAGIC ACCIDENT Worshippers to blame Prime Minister’s sadness
  18. 18. Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshippers Dead Possible frames Too few police Innocent worshippers Rumours caused panic Poor crowd control 2nd deadly stampede in 7 years Corruption Politicians distracted by elections Proof there is no god Police to blame Greedy, careless temple authorities Politicians distracted by electioneering More than 100 dead Judicial inquiry launched Grief Bridge rebuilt after 2007 stampede Previous deadly stampedes TRAGIC ACCIDENT Worshippers to blame Prime Minister’s sadness
  19. 19. Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshippers Dead Possible frames Too few police Innocent worshippers Rumours caused panic Poor crowd control 2nd deadly stampede in 7 years Corruption Politicians distracted by elections Proof there is no god Police to blame Greedy, careless temple authorities Politicians distracted by electioneering More than 100 dead Judicial inquiry launched Grief Bridge rebuilt after 2007 stampede Previous deadly stampedes TRAGIC ACCIDENT Worshippers to blame Prime Minister’s sadness
  20. 20. Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshippers Dead Possible frames Too few police Innocent worshippers Rumours caused panic Poor crowd control 2nd deadly stampede in 7 years Corruption Politicians distracted by elections Proof there is no god Police to blame Greedy, careless temple authorities Politicians distracted by electioneering More than 100 dead Judicial inquiry launched Grief Bridge rebuilt after 2007 stampede Previous deadly stampedes TRAGIC ACCIDENT Worshippers to blame Prime Minister’s sadness
  21. 21. ‘Accidental bias’ caused by working methods (Tuchman) e.g. News Sources
  22. 22. Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshippers Dead Sources for frames Too few police Innocent worshippers Rumours caused panic Poor crowd control 2nd deadly stampede in 7 years Corruption Politicians distracted by elections Proof there is no god Police to blame Greedy, careless temple authorities Source: Survivor distracted by electioneering government Politicians Source: State More than 100 dead Judicial inquiry launched Grief Bridge rebuilt after 2007 stampede Previous deadly stampedes TRAGIC ACCIDENT Worshippers to blame Prime Minister’s sadness Source: Police Source: Prime Minister
  23. 23. Temple Stampede: At Least 109 Worshippers Dead Sources for frames • Mainly official, powerful people • Easy to contact • Their version is usually the first version – ‘primary definers’ • Journalists more likely to trust official sources Source: Survivor Source: Police Source: State government Source: Prime Minister
  24. 24. All sources are not equal Journalists distinguish between … ‘Arbiter’ sources, who set terms of debate and are seen as disinterested or authoritative ‘Advocates', associated with a particular position (Deacon & Golding 1994)
  25. 25. Journalism for war or peace? Unintended consequences of journalistic work habits Journalists need … Peacemakers need …
  26. 26. Journalism for war or peace? Unintended consequences of journalistic work habits Journalists need … Peacemakers need … Immediacy Patience
  27. 27. Journalism for war or peace? Unintended consequences of journalistic work habits Journalists need … Peacemakers need … Immediacy Drama, threats, violence Patience Calm environment
  28. 28. Journalism for war or peace? Unintended consequences of journalistic work habits Journalists need … Peacemakers need … Immediacy Drama, threats, violence Patience Calm environment Simple events Understanding of complexity
  29. 29. Journalism for war or peace? Unintended consequences of journalistic work habits Journalists need … Peacemakers need … Immediacy Drama, threats, violence Patience Calm environment Simple events Understanding of complexity Goodies vs. baddies, ‘us’ and ‘them’ Understanding of the other point of view
  30. 30. Journalism for war or peace? Unintended consequences of journalistic work habits Journalists need … Peacemakers need … Immediacy Drama, threats, violence Patience Calm environment Simple events Understanding of complexity Goodies vs. baddies, ‘us’ and ‘them’ Understanding of the other point of view Journalist’s choice: To frame the story as conflict, or a search for peace (Wolfsfeld 2001)
  31. 31. Factors in media impact on peacemaking (1) amount of consensus among political elites in support of peace (2) number and intensity of crises associated with the process (3) shared media, used by both sides of the conflict (4) level of sensationalism in media ecology (Wolfsfeld 2001)
  32. 32. Israel/Palestine vs. Northern Ireland Factor Israel/ Palestine Northern Ireland Consensus for peace among political elites No./intensity of crises No Yes Many Few Shared media Sensationalism No Yes Yes No (Wolfsfeld 2001)
  33. 33. Powerful sources affect news frames Elite consensus 1 news frame Elite conflict Competing news frames
  34. 34. Journalist as selector Gatekeeper Selecting bits of reality, making them news But … The best journalists seek out less powerful sources, so the stories of the less powerful are heard. News values This is news, that is not – creating a news agenda (agenda setting) Q: Whose story is told first and loudest? A: The story told by people in power. Selecting story elements/ frames/angles Easy availability of sources dictates availability of frames

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