Wednesday, September 26, 2007

WHAT IS NEWS?!


Uh oh, it's late, and I've been thinking...call it a Jerry Maguire diatribe.

But I've been reading a lot of what people are writing in the local blogosphere about news, and I'm here to write something that's been weighing heavily on my mind.

We've all been subjected to some pretty bad news during our lifetime, but it doesn't have to always be that way.

One blogger questioned why my station did a story on speeding in neighborhoods when there were "fires/murders/suicides" going on. Huh?

First of all, in most cases fires/murders/suicides have little to do with the masses. That being said, there are always exceptions. But, for the most part, they have little to do with a wide audience. A jealous husband who murders his wife in Polk County has little to do with how you're going to live your life on the south side of Springfield. An abandoned warehouse fire in downtown Springfield has little to do with you if you live in Dallas County...and a suicide has little to do with you unless you know the person who died.

Again, all of these cases can be argued. And I promise you, no matter what, they will be covered by news organizations...STILL, is it really NEWS?

Let me tell you how most academics and journalists define news.

News can be summarized in 3 words: relevance, usefulness, and interest. The role of journalism is supposed to maintain civilization and democracy.

Within the broad standards of relevance, usefulness, and interest are more specific elements to determining what makes news. Most journalists will agree, they are as follows:

1. impact (how many people are affected)
2. conflict (recurring theme of storytelling, struggles between people, nations, or natural forces)
3. novelty (newsworthy just because it's bizarre--Springfield house sells on ebay for $1025)
4. prominence (names make news, period)
5. proximity (people concerned with what happens where they live)
6. timeliness (news is supposed to be new)

So, long story short: speeding in neighborhoods is more newsworthy than most fires/murders/suicides. Think about all the kids you've seen in the news who were hit and killed by speeding cars. Shouldn't someone try to protect our children?

And as far as the eBay story (that's the story of a Springfield house selling on eBay for $1025)...it's a novelty story. And, in the follow up, we did a story on the legalities of eBay--which also has a lot of impact with people in the Ozarks...more so than most fires/murders/suicides.

That being said, I'll have to cover a fire/murder/suicide in the future...and sooner than later.

By the way, if anyone has any suggestions on how to cure insomnia, that would be great.

8 comments:

acline said...

You forgot one:

News is also what the editor says it is.

Old Perfessor said...

And:

"Fresh tidings." -- Webster's Dictionary

"If it's extraordinary, and it affects us deeply, it's news."
-- Walter Cronkite, CBS News

"News is anything that interests a large part of the community."
-- Charles A. Dana, New York Sun

"News is anything original, distinctive, dramatic, romantic, thrilling, unique, curious, humorous, odd or apt to be talked about."
-- Joseph Pulitzer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"News is anything that makes a reader say, 'Gee whiz!'"
-- Arthur McEwan, San Francisco Examiner

"News is what happened yesterday to somebody else."
-- Walter Winchell, syndicated reporter

"When a dog bites a man, that is not news. However, when a man bites a dog, that is news."
-- John Bogart, New York Sun

"News is about wine, wampum and wrongdoing."
-- Stanley Walker, New York Herald Tribune

"News is what I say is news."
-- An arrogant journalist

Definitions from journalism texts:

"News is everything that happens, the inspiration of happenings and the results of happenings."

"News comprises all current activities of general human interest, and the best news is that which interests the most readers."

"News is what has happened since yesterday's paper was published, plus the underlying trends."

"News is anything timely that is interesting and significant to readers in respect to their personal affairs or relationship to society."

"News is information about a break from the normal flow of events, an interruption in the expected."

"News is information people need to know to make rational decisions about their lives."

"News is the timely report of events, facts and opinions that interest a significant number of people."

"News is what happens."

Darin said...

Thanks Michelle - nice add Andy.

Recently, I discovered two local journalists were taking what could be best described as bribes to publish and promote a tax in Taney County.

This massive chunk of KSPR's viewing audience and even larger portion of KY3's budget seems to be for the most part ignored.

This hurts our community in numerous ways.

If we had responsible news organization covering our area they would be substantially rewarded.

Keep up the good work - We're rooting for you.

Best Regards.
Branson Missouri

Anonymous said...

Wow, somebody was wanting you to cover more murders and fires? How confusing is that? How many times do we get blasted for covering that too much? Ugh, sometimes this business is just to crazy.

Derek

Jason said...

Well said.

emy-d said...

Well said! The speed zone is just something a little different that KSPR is only one in the market doing. We covered it quite a bit at first to get the word out there and get viewer feedback. We still have three to four other reporters covering all the murder, fire, rape and mayhem. When you get over 100 emails from folks who are fed up with speeding I think you've touched on a topic that a lot of people care about. Plus its fun to use a radar gun :)
Side note: Blame your insomnia on your shift. It’s comes with the night side weekend territory. I read books it helps or I finish the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

I checked out your 5:30 p.m. Friday newscast today. You were fine, Michelle, except maybe when you got just a little too tickled in the dog story. But who is that goober visible over your left shoulder (right side of the screen)? He kept looking at the camera, like one of those sidewalk gawkers on the Today show. If you guys are going to have what is supposed to look like a working newsroom as a backdrop, make sure the "workers" are doing something besides looking at the camera and picking their nose.

Michelle said...

Funny. I watched it at 5:30, and I see what you mean...and though I got the giggles reading your comment, I think the person was actually working on the computer! :)