3b. News Values
Media theorists Galtang and Ruge give insights into the values that dictate the ‘newsworthiness’ of our mainstream media news items:
Frequency: Events that occur suddenly and fit well with the news organization’s schedule are more likely to be reported than those that occur gradually or at inconvenient times of day or night. Long-term trends are not likely to receive much coverage.
Negativity: Bad news is more newsworthy than good news.
Unexpectedness: If an event is out of the ordinary it will have a greater effect than something that is an everyday occurrence.
Unambiguity: Events whose implications are clear make for better copy than those that are open to more than one interpretation, or where any understanding of the implications depends on first understanding the complex background in which the events take place.
Personalization: Events that can be portrayed as the actions of individuals will be more attractive than one in which there is no such “human interest.”
Meaningfulness: This relates to the sense of identification the audience has with the topic. “Cultural proximity” is a factor here — stories concerned with people who speak the same language, look the same, and share the preoccupations as the audience receive more coverage than those concerned with people who speak different languages, look different and have different preoccupations.
Reference to elite nations: Stories concerned with global powers receive more attention than those concerned with less influential nations.
Reference to elite persons: Stories concerned with celebrity, the rich, powerful, famous and infamous get more coverage.
Conflict: Opposition of people or forces resulting in a dramatic effect. Stories with conflict are always quite newsworthy.
Consonance: Stories that fit with the media’s expectations receive more coverage than those that defy them (and for which they are thus unprepared). Note this appears to conflict with unexpectedness above. However, consonance really refers to the media’s readiness to report an item.
Continuity: A story that is already in the news gathers a kind of inertia. This is partly because the media organizations are already in place to report the story, and partly because previous reportage may have made the story more accessible to the public (making it less ambiguous).
Composition: Stories must compete with one another for space in the media. For instance, editors may seek to provide a balance of different types of coverage, so that if there is an excess of foreign news for instance, the least important foreign story may have to make way for an item concerned with the domestic news. In this way the prominence given to a story depends not only on its own news values but also on those of competing stories. (Galtung and Ruge, 1965)
Competition: Commercial or professional competition between media may lead journalists to endorse the news value given to a story by a rival.
Co-optation: A story that is only marginally newsworthy in its own right may be covered if it is related to a major running story.
Prefabrication: A story that is marginal in news terms but written and available may be selected ahead of a much more newsworthy story that must be researched and written from the ground up.
Predictability: An event is more likely to be covered if it has been pre-scheduled. (Bell, 1991)
Time constraints: Traditional news media such as radio, television and daily newspapers have strict deadlines and a short production cycle, which selects for items that can be researched and covered quickly.
Logistics: Although eased by the availability of global communications even from remote regions, the ability to deploy and control production and reporting staff, and functionality of technical resources can determine whether a story is covered. (Schlesinger, 1987)
These selection values mean that the news we see is very specifically selected to control our expectations of the world. We choose to be fed a media stream that most endorses our view of the world. Using these values it is easy to see why stories such as ‘Global Warming’, ‘Melting Icecaps’, a ‘quiet and gradual revolution of attitude’, or the ‘daily radioactive waste pouring from Fukushima into the oceans’ doesn’t fit into news. Because they are ongoing, they emerge slowly over a long period of time, they don’t really become news until they cause storm winds that rip the roof off a celebrity’s house, floods that sink a town or the finding of a two-headed salmon.
Our biased positions were deliciously satirised by Bernard Woolley in a 1987 version of the TV show ‘Yes Prime minister’:
“The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country;
The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country;
The Times is read by people who actually do run the country;
The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country;
The Financial Times is read by people who own the country;
The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country;
And the Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it already is.”
Sir Humphrey: “Prime Minister, what about the people who read the Sun?”
Bernard Woolley: “Sun readers don’t care who runs the country, as long as she’s got big tits”.
“We accept the status quo of warfare, fear, environmental destruction, greed, corruption, poisoned health and false scarcity because we’ve been herded into traps which hold us hostage with false beliefs and the appearance of comfort. In reality, though, breaking through these traps would allow us to apply the principles of peace, sustainability, exploration, acceptance and progress to improving the human condition.”
– Sigmund Fraud
Parliament Must Die contains quotes from: A. Greenburg, M.D._Abraham Maslow_Albert Einstein _Alnoor Ladha_Andrew Gwynne _Anneke Lucas_Arthur Koestler _Arundhati Roy_Asgeir Jonsson _Barbara Max Paul Hubbard_Bertrand Russell _Bill Mollison _Buckminster Fuller_Calcida Jethá _Caroline Lucas_Charles the Great_Chief Arvol Looking Horse _Christopher Ryan_Copernicus_Daniel Christian Wahl_Daniel Pinchbeck_Darwin_David Edwards_David Holmgren _David Icke_Dieter Duhm_Donald Worster_Donnachadh McCarthy_Doreen Massey_Doris Lessing_Dr A Bartlett Giamatti _Dr Claire Wordley_Dr Jay Cullen_Dr Kathy Sykes _Dresden James_E C Lindeman_Eckhart Tolle_Edgar Cayce _Edward Snowden _Ethan C Roland _Ewen MacAskill_Galileo_Galtang and Ruge _George Monbiot_Gerald Heard _God in Genesis_Greta Thunberg_Gudrun Johnsen _Guido Dalla Casa _Gustave Le Bon_Guy Fawkes _Henry Cloud _Henryk Skolomowski_Isaac Cordal _J Eliot_Jack D Forbes_Jack Forbes_James Gordon M.D._James Lovelock _Jeremy Lent_Jeremy Rifkin_John Cleese _John Hammell_John Hilary_John Trudell_Jon Stone_Jonathan Bartley_Julian Assange_Karl Marx _Karlos Kukuburra_Ken Ward _Lee Williams _Leonard Higgins_Lierre Keith _Lord Strasburger_M Knowles_Maddy Harland _Marianne Williamson_Mark Boyle_Martin Kirk_Martin Winiecki_Masanobu Fukuoka _Matthieu Ricard_Mogens Herman Hansen _Nafeez Ahmed _Nanice Ellis_Neil Dawe_Nikola Tesla_Noam Chomsky_Olafur Hauksson _Osho_Paul Hawken_Paul Levy_Peter Joseph_Peter Macfadyen_Pope Francis_President Franklin Roosevelt _Rabindranath Tagore _Rene Descartes _Russell Brand_Safa Motesharrei _Seyyed Hossein Nasr_Sigmund Fraud_Silas Titus _Simon Mitchell_Sir David Attenborough_Sir Isaac Newton_Sir Joshua Stamp_Skip Sanders _Steve Kent _Sting_Terrence Mckenna_The Dalai Lama _Thomas Berry_Tom McKay_Tyler Durden_Walter Bradford Cannon_Wendell Berry_William Derham_Yaneer Bar-Yam