ERIC Number: EJ1023064
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
What Turns Events into News?
Communication Teacher, v27 n3 p146-151 2013
"The New York Times" is known for its slogan ''All the News That's Fit to Print.'' But how do gatekeepers decide which events meet this criterion? Although some individuals might believe that the news constitutes an undistorted reflection of the social reality, students in communication courses have the opportunity to gain a more profound understanding of the processes underlying selection and construction of the news. Many factors contribute to the processes of news making, among them, organizational constraints (e.g., logistics of reaching a given location), work routines (e.g., deadlines), and political or commercial pressures. Other important factors include newsroom norms and editors' professional judgments of news values. Given the diversity of research in the realm of journalist practices, different newsworthiness criteria are referenced in different textbooks and emphasized in the lecture by course instructors. In this article, the author describes an exercise that uses a learner-centered approach to familiarize students with classifications of news values, such as the ones offered by Galtung and Ruge (1965), Harcup and O'Neill (2001), and Shoemaker and Reese (1996). These typologies identify the qualities that make events newsworthy, including, for example, the negativity of the event, how well the story fits the overall composition of stories included in a given newspaper issue, and the timeliness of the story. Although this article demonstrates how the activity can be used in teaching these three specific, commonly cited typologies, this activity can easily be molded to suit a lecture using a different set of newsworthiness criteria. The objective of the activity is to encourage students to become more sophisticated and critical media consumers. A list of references and suggested readings is included.
Descriptors: News Media, Classification, Current Events, Values, Class Activities, Active Learning, Evaluation Criteria, College Instruction, Journalism Education, Online Courses
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Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Journal Articles
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A