I am going to give you 30 seconds to think about what you class as being ‘important news’ – okay go!
1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… 7… 8… 9…. 10…
What came to you mind? The Ebola virus outbreak? Who got voted off Big Brother? The Block finale? What about updates on ISIS? Who is going to win X-Factor? Or dramatic climate change? Who is elected for Prime Minister? For the majority of people, when they think of important news they think about what will affect them and their society.
“News is defined as newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent events” (The Free Dictionary)
In today’s society, tabloids and articles are full of unimportant and unnecessary news revolving around reality television shows and the lives of celebrities – which definitely does not come under the category ‘newsworthy’. Valuable news such as the Ebola outbreak and ISIS and other genuine news sources are usually ignored or they are covered on television for one day
There are eight factors that determine how newsworthy a story is:
- Cultural proximity: how culturally similar a news story is
- Relevance: how relevant the story is to you
- Rarity: the unlikelihood of an event happening – it is more likely to appear in the news
- Continuity: whether the story is still defined as being ‘news’ after the event has occurred
- Elite References: in terms of nations and people
- Composition: The story will be selected and arranged according to the editor’s sense of the balance of the whole bulletin
- Personalisation: Events are seen as actions of people as individuals
- Negativity: negative news will more easily be consensual as there will be agreement about the interpretation of the event as negative
When you think about it, the majority of these factors have some sort of relation to the Ebola virus, ISIS and financial news and hardly any relevance to the winner of The Block or Kim Kardashian and Kanye West having a baby. So why are the less valuable news being aired on television so often? The constant ignorance towards important news is changing the attitudes of audiences and may eventually alter and neglect the definition of news in the long run.
Khorana, S. Who Counts in Global Media? News Values. Lecture from ‘International Media and Communication’ at the University of Wollongong. 24th September 2014.
Lee-Wright, P 2012, ‘News Values: An Assessment of News Priorities Through a Comparative Analysis of Arab Spring Anniversary Coverage’, Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College, University of London, pp. 1-19.