Who really counts in news?

It is obviously not feasible for broadcasters and newspaper companies to cover all news, every day. It would not be possible due to time constraints, financial constraints and potentially even security reasons. What is it then, that determines what news stories are covered, and which ones frontline?

A major contributing factor is cultural proximity – issues that are familiar and culturally similar will get more attention, those that are culturally distant may be avoided. Thus, often domestic issues are focused on more so than international issues. However, this relies on relevance as well. If a story is culturally distant, but has the potential to hold significance to the domestic citizens it will be reported on. For example, the current coverage of the turmoil in the Middle East. Although it is a foreign issue, Australia may become involved thus there has been heavy coverage of this across all news outlets.

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Image credit.

Another element that has sway over news reporting is rarity. If something happens that is extremely unexpected, unusual or historic – you can guarantee it will be reported on. This covers things such as natural disasters, outbreaks of war, disease, breaches of national security and even bad accidents. For example, the coverage of the disappearance of flight MH370 was rampant.

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This type of story then gains a type of continuity. Even when it stops headlining, it remains ‘news’ for some time. A very prominent example of this is 9/11. More than a decade later and it is still reported on every year, still used as a comparison in news stories about terrorism or national security and still resonates with people globally.

Furthermore, there is the news value of composition. This is largely a result of the editor’s preferences and sense of balance. Although importance is always going to be placed on domestic issues first, a complete lack of international affairs would lead to an unbalanced feel. This is why sometimes when there is an overload of ‘home’ stories, relatively unimportant foreign stories may be run – to ensure balance is maintained.

Media-Consolidation

Image source.

These are only a few of the elements that impact what stories become ‘news’, but they are all closely related and are very much responsible for the news presented to us at home.

References

Khorana, S 2014, ‘Week 9: Who counts in Global Media? News Values’, lecture, BCM111, University of Wollongong, viewed 15 September 2014

Vissenti, L 2014,”True-blue Aussie’ in Syria says he is prepared to fight Australian soldiers’, Sydney Morning Herald, October 10, viewed 25 September 2014,
<http://www.smh.com.au/national/trueblue-aussie-in-syria-says-he-is-prepared-to-fight-australian-soldiers-20141010-114fvi.html>

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