Stories, or news items, that are to be published and made available to the public go through a series of journalistic selections and procedures rather than objective standards (Khorana 2014b). As a result of this the news is no longer transparent as it has not been presented in its purest form. The journalistic selections and procedures that stories are subjected to before publication are the news values that are upheld by the editors of the news organisation they’re released from. But before that, it is important to note that news stories are characterised by significant features which include: transience, pseudo-events, narrativisation, and visual imperatives (Khorana 2014b).
Khorana (2014a; 2014b) says that transience refers to the ephemeral nature of news, meaning that “what is making news today probably won’t in ten days.” Pseudo-events refers to the news outlets becoming increasingly reliant on the public relations groups in organisations or governments for sources of news which has been organised for the convenience of the mass media, for example, the audience cheering for the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue was later revealed to have been paid to be there rather than it being an expression of public rejoice (Khorana 2014a; 2014b). Narrativisation refers to how news items are packaged as a narrative, they are constructed by utilising the basic story structure of beginning, middle, and end with a point of conflict and resolution (Khorana 2014a; 2014b). Khorana (2014a; 2014b) says that visual imperatives are especially important in television and that this refers to the use of stories with strong images, using the example of Angelina Jolie’s story of breast cancer being used instead of another woman’s because she is a celebrity and high profile whilst the other woman is common and ordinary.
The news values upheld by news editors mentioned earlier which are the journalistic selections and procedures applied to stories before publication include (Khorana 2014a; 2014b):
- Cultural Proximity
- Elite References
A story synonymous of these elements would include the “38 Australian citizens and residents” who “were lost in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17” (ABC 2014). This story was culturally similar and relatable thus making it newsworthy and an example of cultural proximity. This story was relevant to Australians because Australian people were involved in the crash. Airplane crashes do not happen every day thus making this a rare event. The story was followed in the media continually for a time as it became more political. Politicians and other experts were talking about the event and elements relating to it thus giving the story elite references. This was a negative news piece which made it easier to package, although negative stories are usually unambiguous because there is little room for interpretation, there is confusion over who was actually responsible for the crash. In terms of composition they couldn’t broadcast this negative news 24/7 so news stations broke up the news with positive pieces to give more balance. And lastly events are, wherever possible, seen as the actions of people as individuals, in this case it may be Vladimir Putin who is rumoured to be supporting the pro-Russian Ukraine rebels who downed MH17.
This news story is an effective example of showing how stories are selected for publication and these selections and procedures are especially true for global media stories like the MH17 downing.
ABC 2014, Malaysia Airlines MH17: The Australian Victims, ABC, viewed 30 September 2014, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-18/malaysia-airlines-mh17-australian-victims/5607188
Getty Images 2014, The Remains of Flight MH17, image, Telegraph, viewed 30 September 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/10993585/First-victim-of-MH17-crash-identified.html
Khorana, S 2014a, ‘Who Counts in Global Media? News Values’ Echo360, BCM111, University of Wollongong, viewed 30 September 2014.
Khorana, S 2014b, ‘Who Counts in Global Media? News Values’ PowerPoint slides, BCM111, University of Wollongong, viewed 30 September 2014.