In today’s media landscape, there seems to be a debate about what is newsworthy and what is just filler on our screens. For a story to be newsworthy, it should be of interest or importance to the public. Spencer-Thomas uses the concept of news values when establishing if a story is newsworthy. This news value is used by journalists to decide how much attention to give a story, whereas newsworthiness depends on both the type of media mediating the content and the type of person receiving the content.
When looking at a piece of text, it is important to consider Gaultung and Ruge (1996) list of news values.
- Extrodinaries: is this story out of the ordinary?
- Threshold: is this story large, in both content and potential audience size?
- Unambiguity: is this story palatable to the audience?
- Reference to an elite person: is this story involving a well know individual?
- Reference to an elite nation: is this story involving a country with considered importance to the audience?
- Personalisation: is this story made clear to the audience by giving a human face to each side of the story?
- Frequency: is this story immediate with subsequent follow ups?
- Narrative: is this story presenting a story itself?
- Negative: is this story considered bad news?
- Fear Based: is this story offering fear as an incentive to watch?
When we look at news stories, we must take into account 5 key considerations as to why we are being presented with these stories. I will analysis the following text under these 5 points as well as note the stories news value.
Who created the message?
RTÉ news, the national broadcaster, reports the effects of storm Desmond as it tackles the West of Ireland. The message is both informative, as it tells the facts of the storms path, and cautious as it warns viewers of the dangers of traveling in the storm.
What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
The reporter, Teresa Mannion, presence in the ‘eye of the storm’ is creative in its ability to convey realism. Instead in studio report, or a series of graphics recorded pre-broadcast, RTÉ chose to show a Mannion live in the areas affected by the storm. The message takes on a sense of dramatics when we hear the Mannion’s tone of voice.
How might different people understand this message differently than me?
Some viewers may have decoded the message as informative and cautious, this is how I first understood the message. However, as a result of this report, a series of remixes and memes appeared online. This is to say, that some people saw past the report and found humor in Mannion’s delivery of the report.
What values, lifestyles, and points of view are represented in or omitted from this message?
The mention of how Mass services have been canceled shows that importance given to religion. However, the report failed to mention if schools would be operating. This priority given to church over school may be reflective of what RTÉ deemed newsworthy.
Why is this message being sent?
The storm would have happened with or without this report. However, the message may be of national interest as it gives a full account of the effect of the storm. This is informative as many in the country may be in areas that have not been impacted yet and may want to prepare. It could be seen as a warning to all viewers by highlighting the severity.
When looking at the news values of the story, we look once again at the list.
- Extrodinaries: This story of a storm would be a rare occasion so it could be considered out of the ordinary.
- Threshold: This is a large story as it affects the country.
- Unambiguity: An easy to digest story with real world examples and images.
- Reference to an elite person: No
- Reference to an elite nation: Yes
- Personalisation: Yes, the Teresa Mannion herself and her presence in the storm gives a human face to the story and its effects.
- Frequency: it is mentioned that the story is developing live so yes there could be follow-ups.
- Narrative: A story is constructed as a result of the events.
- Negative: This can be considered a bad news story as we hear of flooding, power failure, and property damage.
- Fear Based: Yes as viewers are assured, more than once, to remain indoors and if they do have to leave the home to proceed with caution.