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What is news? Some thoughts. What is news? Origins in Latin term nova = new things. Most journalists find this question difficult to answer except in.

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Presentation on theme: "What is news? Some thoughts. What is news? Origins in Latin term nova = new things. Most journalists find this question difficult to answer except in."— Presentation transcript:

1 What is news? Some thoughts

2 What is news? Origins in Latin term nova = new things. Most journalists find this question difficult to answer except in terms of their intuition, feel and innate judgement.

3 Some definitions News is anything published or broadcast. News is an account of an event, or a fact or an opinion that affects/ interests people. News is anything that is timely and that interests a number of readers - the best news is that which has the greatest interest for the greatest number of people.

4 Some more definitions Similar to history: but news is unsystematic. A commodity, saleable

5 More A mode of writing/telling – it is one of the few original contributions of the mass media to the range of cultural forms of expression. There are many variations: –News gives the facts; –Features explain the facts; –Editorials comment on them.

6 More Interesting Objective, fair, balanced Talked about - part of the public sphere, it has a mass dimension Has social and political significance – builds community, citizenship, democracy, etc.

7 Hard news 2 main types: –Spot (or breaking) news is the unexpected: robberies, public announcements, the plane crash, the fire, the massacre. –Diary news is news about events we knew were going to take place: speeches, press conferences, a meeting, a debate.

8 In-depth news In-depth coverage: where hard news focuses on events, in-depth coverage is concerned with providing detail and explanation of broad phenomena. Also called process-centred news or issue-based coverage (problems and solutions). Mail & Guardian champions this kind of coverage.

9 Soft news Human interest, colour features (but, this is not the sole domain of soft news); Stories people want to know rather than those they feel obligated to know? More to entertain than to inform? Enhances empathy, understanding; Social documentary, extended narrative, literary journalism.

10 News values Traditional news values (newsworthiness) Underpinning a news item there is always an unspoken message which says: "Here is an important piece of information - you need to take note of this."

11 Core news value: Importance/ impact The most basic news value is importance, impact or consequence. Consequence implies a change in the circumstances of the audience. –Scale – high figures (deaths, redundancies, money); –Impression – strong emotional response (e.g. A hit-and-run).

12 Core news value: Interest Journalists make subjective assumptions and judgements about what their audiences will likely find interesting, based on a number of criteria:

13 Immediacy, exclusivity Time/immediacy: The latest – update, re- angle; Exclusives - scoop your rivals (first to break the story). News is perishable – it has to be new.

14 Human interest Human face: People like to hear news of other people. E.g. You and Drum. Full of stories about people and lots of drama. Stories involving the most vulnerable people (the elderly, children, but animals, too).

15 Consonance and dissonance Consonance with past news: a preference for events which fit advance audience expectations (a wish to continue with events already established as newsworthy). Peculiarity/novelty/curiosity: Wow factor. The unusual or unexpected, within the limits of what is familiar. (News are actually olds – if it is the unexpected that happens, it is not the wholly unexpected which gets into the news).

16 Drama and conflict When people are friends, there rarely is a story. Politics, war and crime feature high on the news agenda.

17 Something must happen Events orientation: Something needs to happen. The bigger the event or situation, the bigger the story. The less ambiguity, the more something will be noticed.

18 Fresh and close Geography/proximity: Most events become more newsworthy the closer the action occurs to the audience. Topicality/ talking points: Some topics are more on peoples minds at one time than another.

19 Prominence High profile people and nations (prominence): Names make news. We are interested to hear about them because we already know about them, or because they are in positions to do something about the things they talk about.

20 Simple pleasures Simple interest and enjoyment: Enjoyable, easy-to-read articles – might appeal to particular interests such as education, self-help, entertainment, cultural ritual, travel or just trivia. The interest and enjoyment becomes a news value in itself. Sex and private lives of rich and famous: Daily Sun, back page of the Sunday Times.

21 Traditionally news was divided into two categories: the kind of news people would like to read (interest), and that which should be given to them. The second category refers to the informative role of news. Public interest: Essential information, comment, debate, education for citizenship.

22 Critique of news values News will tend not to deal with distant and politically unimportant nations, non-elites, alternative ideas, institutions, and structures, long-term undramatic processes (like social change itself) or many kinds of good news.

23 Event orientation: News is only published if something new happens.

24 Conflict: Why dont we have more news about our overarching and day-to-day achievements. In other words, do we have enough good news?

25 Drama: This has the effect of trivialising issues. It focuses attention on the effects, rather than the causes of social problems, such as squatting, unemployment and violence.

26 Proximity: Flows of trade between countries are good predictors of mutual news attention… this blocks out a lot of African news.

27 Focus on individuals: Personalises and cultivates certain elite individuals.

28 Habitual use of sources: Routine definers. Many of these people are firmly rooted in the status quo – the status quo is not necessarily equally acceptable to all people or groups in society and news should reflect this.

29 Peculiarity/novelty: Does this lead to sensationalism?

30 Shades of grey: Due to limited space in newspapers, limited budgets for research and depth reporting.

31 News is description: Little interpretation and little information about how to do things, only news about what went wrong. Background, context and perspective? Process oriented or issue-based journalism. This form of journalism emphasises the obligation of the journalist initiate coverage rather than wait for events to happen.

32 Pssst! Guess what? There is no fundamentally non-ideological, apolitical, non-partisan newsgathering and reporting system.

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