Unit 27: Factual Programme Production Techniques For Television

Galtung and Ruge are two media practitioners who devised an 18 point list. Galtung and Ruge theorise that there are certain significant factors that make a news story reach the front page. Here is the full list of 18, with examples following some of them.

Frequency: Events that occur suddenly and fit well with the news organization’s schedule are more likely to be reported than those that occur gradually or at inconvenient times of day or night. Long-term trends are not likely to receive much coverage.
Negativity: Bad news is more newsworthy than good news.
Unexpectedness: If an event is out of the ordinary it will have a greater effect than something that is an everyday occurrence. A good recent example of this is the beaver bite that ended up killing a man.
Unambiguity: Events whose implications are clear make for better copy than those that are open to more than one interpretation, or where any understanding of the implications depends on first understanding the complex background in which the events take place. A perfect example of this would be a news story on a robbery, as we are all familiar what a robbery is and the implications of such event.
Personalization: Events that can be portrayed as the actions of individuals will be more attractive than one in which there is no such “human interest.”
Meaningfulness: This relates to the sense of identification the audience has with the topic. “Cultural proximity” is a factor here — stories concerned with people who speak the same language, look the same, and share the preoccupations as the audience receive more coverage than those concerned with people who speak different languages, look different and have different preoccupations. This is a simple principle relating to the actual audience of the news outlet, E! News are more likely to report on celebrity gossip than CNN.
Reference to elite nations: Stories concerned with global powers receive more attention than those concerned with less influential nations. The interesting thing about referencing elite nations is that the elite nation changes depending on where you are. For example, news in Saudi Arabia is more likely to feature in an Egyptian newspaper than a British one. The Boston bombing is a good example of this as Britain is very very closely linked with the USA.
Reference to elite persons: Stories concerned with the rich, powerful, famous and infamous get more coverage. For example the coverage of Justin Bieber writing in the Anne Frank memorial house that he though Anne Frank “would have been a belieber”.
Conflict: Opposition of people or forces resulting in a dramatic effect. Stories with conflict are often quite newsworthy. An example of this is the coverage of the ongoing legal battle with the gypsy and traveller community in Solihull.
Consonance: Stories that fit with the media’s expectations receive more coverage than those that defy them (and for which they are thus unprepared). Note this appears to conflict with unexpectedness above. However, consonance really refers to the media’s readiness to report an item. The Syrian war is an example of this. When war broke out, journalists were stationed in Syria for months and were able to report on the fatalities for sometime.
Continuity: A story that is already in the news gathers a kind of inertia. This is partly because the media organizations are already in place to report the story, and partly because previous reportage may have made the story more accessible to the public (making it less ambiguous). A great example of this principal in action was the ballon boy hoax of 2009. At first the story was that the boy had floated away in a balloon, however the boy was later found at home and it was discovered to be a complete hoax.
Composition: Stories must compete with one another for space in the media. For instance, editors may seek to provide a balance of different types of coverage, so that if there is an excess of foreign news for instance, the least important foreign story may have to make way for an item concerned with the domestic news. In this way the prominence given to a story depends not only on its own news values but also on those of competing stories. An example of this would be how Margaret Thatcher’s death dominated British news outlets, instead of international news
Competition: Commercial or professional competition between media may lead journalists to endorse the news value given to a story by a rival.
Co-optation: A story that is only marginally newsworthy in its own right may be covered if it is related to a major running story. Related news story would be the amount of coverage that the security measures of the London games received after the Boston bombing.
Prefabrication: A story that is marginal in news terms but written and available may be selected ahead of a much more newsworthy story that must be researched and written from the ground up. A recent example of this would be
Predictability: An event is more likely to be covered if it has been pre-scheduled. (Bell, 1991) An example of this would be the London marathon, news producers are aware when it will take place and who are the favourites to win it.
Time constraints: Traditional news media such as radio, television and daily newspapers have strict deadlines and a short production cycle, which selects for items that can be researched and covered quickly. This principal can be shown when a new study is reported on. This is very easy to make because often, the study is released with a short statement, all that is needed is getting reactions from the general public.
Logistics: Although eased by the availability of global communications even from remote regions, the ability to deploy and control production and reporting staff, and functionality of technical resources can determine whether a story is covered. (Schlesinger, 1987) How easy it is to actually get the story. A story is Birmingham is very easy for a Birmingham-based news outlet to obtain

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