The nature of multiplatform news KJB101: Weeks 2 and 3

What you'll need for workshops in weeks 2 and 3

Create accounts with the following social media and content production platforms (we assume you already have a Facebook account):

What is news?

Research (Galtung & Ruge, 1965) has historically shown that news stories have five key features:

  1. Timeliness: Unsurprisingly, news is best if it is ‘new’.
  2. Conflict: News stories are narratives. And conflict lies at the heart of all narratives, especially in Western cultures. As such, bad news is good for journalists. This is one of the biggest criticisms leveled at the news media.
  3. Signficance / impact: Again, this is not surprising. For example, the number of people injured or killed in a disaster will influence the amount of prominence the story receives.
  4. Proximity: The closer the story is to "home", the more likely it is to get reported. For example, a car accident at Kenmore will almost certainly be covered by the local newspaper, will most likely get covered by the Brisbane Times, but will almost certainly not receive coverage in the Sydney Morning Herald. Cultural proximity is also important; the number of Australians impacted by international events will influence how much coverage a story receives (this often leads to criticisms that the news presents a very limited picture of international news).
  5. Prominence: Famous people get more media attention because ... they're famous. Prominence, timeliness and proximity can often interact to increase the significance of any event. For example: A minor assault involving a State of Origin player on Origin eve.
  6. Human interest: This can often contradict the timeliness factor. News can be more dated if it taps into strong emotions (e.g. sadness, anger, amusement). Human interest stories often appear at the end of a bulletin for the "feel good" factor -- a classic is the "cat stuck up a tree story"!

What about multiplatform news?

More recent research suggests that the five basic news values discussed above, still hold true for online and multiplatform news (Harcup & O'Neil, 2001; Harcup & O'Neil, 2016). However, the internet has given journalists a platform to publish globally and immediately. As such, reporters now must also consider:

  1. What does the audience want?
  2. How do they want to receive it?
  3. ... search for it?
  4. ... react to it?
  5. ... share it?

"New news"

We live in a world of immediacy: it seems like everyone around us has a smartphone or tablet on hand, and they're demanding information faster than ever before. This also means that the audience is not as loyal as it once was. Social networking and content aggregation sites mean audiences can receive stories from a range of news outlets that target their specific interests (e.g. favourite sporting team, political affiliation) simultaneously.

  • How can journalists balance immediacy with accuracy?
  • Does the need to capture the audience's attention mean that the quality of news inevitably suffers?
  • If audiences can access news based on specific interests and beliefs, what happens to issues of national importance (e.g. the economy, the government)?

Journalists must increasingly "value add" to the stories as the audience demands podcasts, "behind the scenes" footage, raw audio and video, photographs straight from the scene via Faceboom, Twitter and Instagram.

  • How can journalists "add value" in a way that is meaningful for audiences, rather than contributing more "noise"?

References

Galtung, J. and Ruge, M. (1965). ‘The Structure of Foreign News: The presentation of the Congo, Cuba and Cyprus crises in four Norwegian newspapers’, Journal of International Peace Research 1, pp. 64-91.

Harcup, T. and O'Neill, D. (2001). “What is News? Galtung and Ruge Revisited.” Journalism Studies, 2 (2): 261–280.

Harcup, T., & O'Neill, D. (2016). What is news? News values revisited (Again), Journalism Studies, 1-19. doi:10.1080/1461670X.2016.1150193

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