Slides in this set
SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF THE NEWS
People view the news as a window on the world which provides the audience with a factual
account of events, but sociologists look beyond this view to find out how news is made. ]
Factors involved in the production of the news and explore the influences from within the
media and from the wider society are INVOLVED in the process of constructing the news.
Journalists, editors, owners and the state are an important influences on the social
construction of the NEWS.
News can involve a number of aspects:
a) Reports in the media about a recent events (e.g. Television, Radio and Newspapers etc)
b) New or updated information about a recent event or issue.
c) Information about a person or occurrence that is thought to be of interest.
News is shaped by a number of factors including economic considerations involving costs
Williams (2003) identified other influences such as: The power of media professionals (e.g.
Journalists and Editors), Organisational factors, including the time and space available and
the culture of society.…read more
Journalists = Trained media professionals who report on events and issues for print and
They construct news stories from events that has happened. A factor influencing the selection
of a story is whether it is seen as newsworthy.
Jonathan Bignell (1997) points out that `news' is not a fixed category: how it interpreted
depends on the type of media involved. Quality newspapers have more foreign news, tabloids
more personality-based views. It is the professional workers within media organizations who
make selections based on the values within their organization.
Galtung & Ruge (1965) describe the conscious and unconscious criteria used by journalists. The
more criteria a potential story fulfils, the more likely it is that the story will be printed. The
criteria is known as News Values. The play a part in the decision-making process for journalists
as they select stories to report.
Frequency: Short-lived events are preferred. Un-ambiguity: Events that fit into an established story type.
Threshold: More Intense events are Unexpectedness: Unexpectedness events that are preferred
preferred to expected ones.
Meaningfulness: Relevance to the assumed Consonance: The story's closeness to the assumed readers
reader. expectations or desires.
Reference: a) Elite Nations b) Elite Persons c) Persons d) Something Negative.…read more
There are number of criticism to Galtung & Ruge's News Values:
VASTERMAN (1995) argued that G& R are mistaken in believing that journalists actually
report events: ` But News is not out there, Journalists do not report news. They construct it,
they construct a context in which these facts make sense. They reconstruct "a" reality.'
HALL (1981) argues that G&R list of news values fails to shed light on the ideological factors
HARCUP AND O'NEILL (2001) believed G&R works needs to be updated to reflect
contemporary trends in news reporting. For example, they propose that a news value of
`entertainment' be added as conclusion to their research in newspapers.
OLIVER BOYD-BARRETT (1995) points out that media professionals are also influenced by
social structures over which they have limited control. Galtung and Ruge fail to explain where
journalistic values comes from. They ignore Structural Factors and Cultural Hegemony.…read more
According to OLIVER BOYD-BARRETT (1995)
G&R stress on active gate-keeping : the systematic inclusion or exclusion of certain types of
content. They attribute too much to human agency and remain unaware of the structural
constraints placed upon it.
News values have to be `explained as well as indentified'. Cultural Hegemony theories are
able to do this in terms of the dominant worldview, which shapes the perceptions and choices
of media professionals.
There are other structural factors which condition media content:
1. Recurrent practices within organizations, habitual behaviours which have grown up over a
long period of time. They are not obvious to media professionals or to the audience because
they are taken for granted.
2. There are the constraints of production processes, which frequently affect what is possible.
The origins of much news coverage, for example, often lie in official sources such as press
conference, parliamentary reports and camera coverage, interviews with government
ministers or journalists `embedded' with the military. Regular `diary' events provide a staple
diet for news organizations, reappearing each year. The demand for a constant, predictable
supply of news to the newsroom demands that this is so.
3. Technical Conditions often influence what is not in the news: the absence of the cameras or
the costs associated with news-gathering in distant places will mean that some stories never…read more
Editors = Trained media professionals who supervise journalists' work and who can select,
make changes to and rewrite stories. They are media professionals in news organisations who
have the final say in what appears in news reports.
CURRAN & GUREVITCH (2005) conducted Case studies which showed the influence of
editorial intervention and the self-censorship that journalists employ in an attempt to please
SUMPTER (2000) comments on the editors role and suggests that they keep a close eye on
audience figures and make decisions on what stories to include on the basis of concerns about
increasing audience size. This can be seen as an influencing factor adapted by journalists when
Both Journalists + Editors are GATEKEEPERS!
· A gatekeeper has the power to select the content of the news in print and broadcast media.
Gate-keeping can be seen as a form of censorship.
· A similar process involved in selecting the news is agenda-setting. An agenda is a list of
matters to be addressed. Agenda-setting involves the shaping of a news story including the
focus given to particular issues within a story.
·The process of gate-keeping and agenda-setting mean that some events and issues are not
reported and bought to the attention of the public. Both Editors & Journalists are involved in
such process. The Editors have great power and control than journalists as they can CHANGE
content or decide that a story will not be included.…read more
Some sociologists believe that gate keeping and agenda-setting are influenced by wider
1. Hierarchy of Credibility Becker (1998)
· This concept has been applied to the process involved in the construction of the news.
· It has been argued that journalists and editors give more value and credibility to the views of
those in society who have greater status , influence and power and will seek access and give
prominence to their views when reporting a story.
· This means that the views of those lower down the social system may be marginalised and
2. The News Diary Schlesinger (1987)
· Referred to the importance of the news diary in shaping the content of the news. News that is
reported is recorded in advance in a news diary of forthcoming events.
· Journalists will have organised their schedules around these vents and space will have been
allocated to the reporting of them.
· Example: Royal birthdays/ wedding. Meeting of heads of states.…read more