News Values: Why is News ‘news’?


(Image, Joannacheezeburger.com via 365rules.com)

By the time most news reaches our ears, already we are not getting the full story of what is being reported to us. Undoubtedly, for a single media outlet to deliver every piece of information on news events would be impossible, which is why we are encouraged to increase our avenues of information.

Myself, for an example, I can prove a very unhealthy and imbalanced source pool of news sources. My primary sources being “ninemsn news” online or Win/Nine News Network on TV. I will also come across other news events on Tumblr, Twitter or Facebook’s new ‘Trending’ bar, however my main means, though from different streams all connect back to the same river that delivers the same water no matter where it goes. My main sources, though they address and cover most ‘big’ global news stories have a generic national focus as default. Though social media sites like Tumblr and Twitter may have global sections, they are not always necessarily global.

The news we absorb, is simply the product of journalistic and corporative standardised procedures and filtering. Selections of the story have been taken out, changed or included in a particular light to match these rules and procedures, rather than an objective standard of delivering news unfiltered. But that isn’t the corporation’s desire or intention, to give you the whole truth.
Such are the features of news, one feature defined as a pseudo-event; elements are omitted, for a specific purpose, arranged for the convenience of mass media and manipulating events for political gain. When in 2001 the government released images during the Tampa affair of what appeared to be children thrown overboard to support the government’s viewpoint and standing on asylum seekers. When in actuality, the photos were taken vastly out of context in an attempt to dehumanize their plight.

As Peter Lee-Wright noted, it is not in the structure of news to stay on a story longer than the audience’s attention span, which depending on the item can be simply a day or even a week or two. News items tend to be incredibly sensationalised, narrative in structure and incorporate strong visual images to create an almost mini-movie, more to entertain or maintain the audience’s attention than to deliver the story. Evocative photos of the MH17 crash site filled the TV screens of homes across the work for weeks, however after the attention of the audience wavered, the story vanished. As did the story of MH370, once the sensationalism wore off, there was virtually no interest in the continuing investigation, now only reported on briefly perhaps once every 2 or 3 weeks. In an almost seamless manner, one story dominates the global media field, and when the attention span of the audience is reached- in comes another topical issue or current event. The audience develops almost tunnel vision, in we only are generally aware of the issue right in front of us, and oblivious that even thought they are not being directly fed to us, the sensational stories are still very much real and very much continuing. The Ferguson riots of August became an incredibly heated and prominent crisis of race and police brutality, but faded into obscurity to weeks later- the civil unrest continues to occur with minor reporting. Ferguson still remains topical on social media in niche corners of political debate, but silent on news coverage.

The news is a powerful tool in moulding how we think about global events, and when we receive only these sensationalised snapshots of issues are views become intensely polarised on the issues. We are positioned to view in the framed ‘spectacle’ light because news coverage is dictated by the viewers ability to remain interested and the stories to be culturally proximate, affects us either on a cultural level or in the spectacle of ‘rare’ events being news. News is only reported to be reporting to, if no one watched the news, or bought newspapers, there would be no news. The values of News are what is newsworthy, and what we find newsworthy, audiences are drawn to superficiality as deeper understanding requires greater attention. Yet conversely, greater attention requires more understanding of an issue. We can only be aware and respond to what is given to us, and until new media frames and values are formed, we will be stuck in the sensational.

P, Lee-Wright 2013, “News Values:
An Assessment of News Priorities Through a Comparative Analysis of Arab Spring Anniversary Coverage”, JOMEC Journal, University of London

ABC News, 2011 “Film Chronicles Children Overboard Scandal”, Youtube

Khorana, S 2014 “Who Counts in Global Media”, University Lecture Notes, September 24 2014