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Construction Of A News Story Essay

1792 words - 8 pages

In this essay I will discuss how news values, ideology and culture can affect the construction of a news story. Firstly, what is news? News is a constructed product. It is saleable, superficial, simple, objective, action-central, interesting (as distinct from significant), stylized and prudent (Breed, 1956). According to Greg Philio, "˜"News" on television and in the Press is not self-defining. News is not "found" or even "gathered" so much as made. It is a creation of a journalistic process, an artifact, a commodity even' (Fowler, R. 1991, p10). However, news is not a piece of history (although it may record history), gossip, of human interest, free of subjectivity, free of ...view middle of the document...

It is through this set where they determine whether the "˜story' is to be followed up, and whether it makes it into the news, facing competition against other possible news items. One of the best known lists of news values is supplied by Johann Galtung and Mari Ruge. The values they identified are frequency, threshold, unambiguity, meaningfulness, consonance, unexpectedness, continuity, composition, reference to elite nations, reference to elite people, reference to persons and reference to something negative (Fowler, R. 1991, p.13-14). Frequency- the time span of an event and the extent to which it 'fits' the frequency of the newspaper's or news broadcast's schedule. Accidents or disasters such as plane crashes, earthquakes will qualify as they are all of short duration and therefore nearly always fit into the schedule. Such events are also unambiguous, their meaning is quickly arrived at and they don't need any explanation. Background to the news, though for example economic, social or political trends is less likely to make it into the news as such trends take a long time to unfold (Cohen, S. & Young, J. 1973, p.63). When they do make it into the news, it is normally through a clearly defined event such as the publication of employment or trade figures on a particular day. Threshold- this regards the size of an event. Questions like "˜is it big enough to make it into the news?' is raised. For example, the story of a drunk driver who wrote off a parked car may be reported in the local paper, but he would have needed to write off half a dozen to make it into the national dailies. The size of an event tends also to be mitigated somewhat by its degree of 'meaningfulness'. Unambiguity- is the meaning of an event clear? The mass media generally tend to go for closure, unlike literature, where the polysemy of events is exploited and explored (Cohen, S. & Young, J. 1973, p.64). An event such as a murder or a car crash will have no problems as its meaning is immediately grasped, so it is likely to make it into the news. Meaningfulness- How meaningful will the event appear to the receivers of the news? 'cultural proximity' is an important factor in the selection of stories. Events happening in cultures very different from our own will not be seen as being inherently meaningful to audiences here. On the other hand, events in continental Europe and the USA will make it into the news. The same is likely to apply within our own society, ethnic groups, the underprivileged etc. receiving less coverage. Consonance- events should match the media's expectations. Journalists have a pretty good idea of the 'angle' they want to report an event from, even before they get there. If the media expect something to happen, then it will. Unexpectedness- stories that are out of this world for example like a man who bit a dog. If an event is highly unpredictable, then it is likely to make it into the news. The unpredictability does, however, need to be...

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