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Mac201 news values

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Slides used in sept 2012 lecture

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Mac201 news values

  1. 1. News values, frames & shifting debates #MAC201 robert.jewitt@sunderland.ac.uk 1
  2. 2. Outline 1. Introduction 2. Rise of reporting 3. Galtung and Ruge (1965) 4. Harcup and O’Neil (2001) 5. Conclusion 2
  3. 3. Introduction  What is news...? 3
  4. 4. Introduction  What is news...?  “When a dog bites a man that is not news, but when a man bites a dog, that is news”  (Charles Anderson Dana, editor and proprietor, New York Sun, 1882) 4
  5. 5. Introduction  What is news...?  “[News is] anything that makes the reader say ‘Gee whiz’”  (quoted in Mott, 1950: 126) 5
  6. 6. Introduction  What is news...?  “[News is] anything that makes the reader say ‘Gee whiz’”  (quoted in Mott, 1950: 126) 6
  7. 7. Introduction  What is news...?  “News is what somebody wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising”  (attributed to Lord Northcliffe in MacShane, 1979: 46) 7
  8. 8. Introduction • Millions of events happen every day – but why are the same stories replicated throughout the media? 8
  9. 9. News as routine  Golding and Elliot (1996: 405) note that news production…  ‘is for the most part the passive exercise of routine and highly regulated procedures in the task of selecting from already limited supplies of information’ 9
  10. 10. Limited News Supply Because:  Historical decisions regarding what is thought to be interesting to readers  Material thought to be inoffensive to specific advertisers  Material profitable to media companies 10
  11. 11. Rise of reporting  Venice (16th century): gazettes  see Allan, 1999/2004/2010  Content: military/political/trade events  Bookshops and coffee houses  (17th century, increased literacy  New formats emerge: • [Which] ‘brought sex and scandal, fantasy, sensationalism, bawdiness, violence and prophecy to their readers: monstrous births, dragons, mermaids and most horrible murders; but they also brought items of news’. (Craven, 1992: 3) 11
  12. 12. Popular press?  Emergence of ‘non-partisan’ (supposedly neutral) reporting of issues in the ‘public interest’  Legacy of ‘pauper press’ (UK) & ‘penny press’ (US) in 19th century  (see Allan, 2010)  Pauper press actively campaigned for social change 12
  13. 13. 13 Pauper press Traditional press Working class Educated elite 1-2 pence 6-7 pence Human interest Analytical Revolutionary Respectable Controversial Critical
  14. 14. 14 TABLOID Vs BROADSHEET Pauper press Traditional press Working class Educated elite 1-2 pence 6-7 pence Human interest Analytical Revolutionary Respectable Controversial Critical
  15. 15. TABLOID Vs BROADSHEET 15 Pauper press Traditional press Working class Educated elite 1-2 pence 6-7 pence Human interest Analytical Revolutionary Respectable Controversial Critical
  16. 16. Important historical factors 1. market forces 2. human interest and sensationalism 3. political decisions and the public good 4. the speed at which ‘facts’ could be reported 16
  17. 17. What are news values?  Series of unwritten ground rules  “News values are meant to be the distillation of what an identified audience is interested in reading or watching” (Richardson, 2007: 91) 17
  18. 18. 18
  19. 19. Galtung and Ruge (1965) 19 • Journal of Peace Research • International news in Norwegian papers • Identified 12 factors
  20. 20. Galtung and Ruge (1965) Eight principles of news selection (F1) Frequency • The temporal unfolding of an event has to correspond with the needs of the news media. • Daily news focuses on events rather than longer trends. 20
  21. 21. (F2) Threshold  The bigger the event, the more violent the murder, the greater the casualties/fatalities in an accident: the more newsworthy it will be. 21
  22. 22. (F3) Lack of ambiguity The clearer the meaning of an event, the easier it can be understood (F4) Meaningfulness Has to be of significance, or be meaningful, within the given cultural environment. 22
  23. 23. (F5) Predictability  “…this creates a mental matrix for easy reception” (Galtung and Ruge, 1981: 55); or much of the news is the delivery of routine information. (F6) Unpredictability  Unexpected or rare events are inherently newsworthy 23
  24. 24. F7) Continuing news • If something is already newsworthy, it will continue to be so: even if its impact decreases. (F8) Compositional value • A balance of domestic, international, celebrity and sports news is required. 24
  25. 25. Cultural factors in news selectionCultural factors in news selection (F9) “Elite nations” are more newsworthy  Economic power (i.e. Western Europe, USA). Accusations of cultural “Eurocentrism” and a corresponding “Orientalism” (see E. W. Said) (F10) “Elite people” are more newsworthy  The political and financial elite; the “celebrities” 25
  26. 26. (F11) News should be presentable in terms of the personal •Focus on the “ordinary” person in exceptional circumstances (F12) Negativity •Negative news is seen as unambiguous. 26
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  29. 29. In summary… • The more criteria an event satisfies from the list of news values, the more likely it will be selected to be news. • Once an event is selected, the factors which made it newsworthy will be accentuated (or distorted) • The process of selection and accentuation will occur at all stages, from the event through to the readers. 29
  30. 30. Problems with Galtung and Ruge?  Very useful for identifying the formal elements within the construction of news…  But what about the ideology behind the selection? How is news ‘framed’?  Are news values always aligned around daily news stories or only major events?  Drawn from international news:  Applicable to domestic news?  Applicable to different formats? 30
  31. 31. Problems with Galtung and Ruge? ‘News values appear as a set of neutral, routine practices: but we need, also, to see formal news values as an ideological structure – to examine these rules as the formalisation and operationalisation of an ideology of news’ (Hall, 1973: 182) 31
  32. 32. ‘News Frames’  Refers to the ways in which articles shape readers understandings of news events depending on how the intro/headline to a story and the conclusion are framed  See Price, Tewksbury, Powers (1997)  Valkenburg, Semetko, & de Vreese (1999)  Article by de Vreese on SunSpace 32
  33. 33. Harcup and O’Neil (2001) Galtung & Ruge Revisited  Re-tested news values – studied 3 British daily newspapers 33 • Concluded that “Galtung and Ruge ignored day-to-day coverage of lesser, domestic and bread-and-butter news” (2001: 276)
  34. 34. Harcup and O'Neill (1-3) (1) The POWER elite  Stories concerning ‘powerful individuals, organisations or institutions’ (2001: 278). (2) Celebrity  Stories concerning the already famous (3) Entertainment  Sex, show business, human interest, animals, humorous stories or photos. 34
  35. 35. Harcup and O'Neill (4-7) (4) Surprise • Contrast (formerly Unpredictability) (5) Bad news • Negative overtones (6) Good news • Positive overtones (7) Magnitude • Significant numbers of people or large impact (formerly Threshold) 35
  36. 36. Harcup and O'Neill (8-10)  (8) Relevance  …to readership (incorporates Meaningfulness and reference to Elite Nations)  (9) Follow-up  Stories about subjects already in the news  (10) Newspaper agenda  Stories that fit the organisation’s agenda incorporates Continuing news and Compositional value) 36
  37. 37. Harcup and O’Neil (2001) 1 The POWER elite Stories concerning ‘powerful individuals, organisations or institutions’ (p 278). This makes a distinction between world or business leaders and reality TV contestants etc. 2 Celebrity Stories concerning the already famous 3 Entertainment Includes stories about sex, show business, human interest, humorous stories or photos. 4 Surprise Stories with an element of surprise and/or contrast (formerly Unexpectedness) 5 Bad news Negative overtones – conflict, tragedy, etc 6 Good news Positive overtones – rescue, miracle cures, etc 7 Magnitude Stories with significant numbers of people or large impact (formerly Threshold) 8 Relevance Issues perceived to be relevant to the readership (incorporates Meaningfulness and reference to Elite Nations). Would now include places like Magaluf, Ibiza and Ayia Napa, which might be relevant to certain readerships. 9 Follow-up Stories about subjects already in the news 10 Newspaper agenda Stories that fit the organisation’s agenda (incorporates Continuing news and Compositional value) 37
  38. 38. Harcup and O’Neill summary  Updated G & R study  Reduced news values from 12 to 10  More contemporary and relevant  E.g. Celebrity and Entertainment  Perhaps a more reliable and trustworthy methodology  E.g. Choice of newspapers 38
  39. 39. Conclusion  Range of historical factors impacting on professional journalistic practice.  Factors reveal the often unspoken, unconscious (ideological) mechanics of news room selection  News Values are limited analytical and critical tools which should allow us to get behind the question of ‘what is news’ without always explaining HOW they are reported 39
  40. 40. Bibliography  Anderson Dana, C., 1882, New York Sun, in Allan, S. 1999 NewsCulture, Buckingham: Open University Press.  Allan, S., 2004, News Culture, Buckingham: Open University Press .  Craven, L., 1992, ‘The early newspaper press in England’, in D.Giffiths (ed.) The Encylopedia of the British Press, London:Macmillan.  Galtung, J., and Ruge, M., 1981, ‘Structuring and selecting news’ inCohen, S., & Young, J. (eds.), The Manufacture of News: Socialproblems, deviance and the mass media: Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.  Hall, S., 1973, ‘The determination of news photographs’ in Cohen,S., & Young, J. (eds), The Manufacture of News. London: Constable,pp. 181 & 182.  Harcup, T. and O’Neill, D. (2001) “What is news? Galtung and Rugerevisited”, Journalism Studies 2: 261-280.  Richardson, J (2007) Analysing Newspapers. London: PalgraveMcMillan 40

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