They’re Just Stories.

News stories are called ‘stories’ for a reason. They are narratives consequential of journalist routines. These routines draw on several different components, each offering a dimension to the story that would hopefully make it more appealing to the public. These are called ‘news values’.

I will explore news values shortly, but first I want to address that news reporting is based heavily on appealing to the audience and satisfying them. This is done by reporting on relevant, or ‘trending’ news stories. As a result, most news will be common among multiple media outlets.

So, there are several layers of appeal that most journalist would try to fulfil when writing a story. These are as follows;

Cultural Proximity

  • Familiar and culturally similar events. These events resonate with our sense of nationalism, where by the audience will be more likely to watch the event if they are form the same ‘imagined community’ or nation.


  • Similar to Cultural proximity, however this value is more related to what’s trending at the time.


  • The more unexpected the event is, the more popular it will be. This then promotes sensationalism in news stories.


  • Events that can be drawn out, and can produce multiple stories are more likely to be reported on. An excellent example of this was the disappearance of MH370, this event dominated the news for over a month.

Elite References

  • A story is more plausible – and the audience will believe it more – if there is an expert opinion used as evidence. These opinions often come from people we hold in high regard. Such as; academics, politicians and even celebrities.


  • A negative story is easier to package. There is also less opposition so the story is more likely to be received easier.


  • This relates to the editorials composition of his news platform. For example – in a newspaper – the sensational and relevant news story will be on the front page. This story is often negative, so to avoid negative motifs throughout your paper (which can lead to a disgruntled audience) an editor may put a positive, yet unimportant story on the second and third page.


  • This value is simple. The more personal the story, the easier it is for the audience to relate.

Although, due to the declining popularity of traditional forms of media, it has become even more crucial that these conditions are met. This also leads to sensationalizing these values, which –although it makes for better reading – the audience still remains uneducated.



Further Readings:

Harlow, S., Thomas J. Johnson (2011) ‘The Arab Spring| Overthrowing the Protest Paradigm? How The New York Times, Global Voices and Twitter Covered the Egyptian Revolution’. International Journal of Communication, Vol 5 pp.1379-54.

Chouliaraki, L. (2008) ‘The symbolic power of transnational media: Managing the visibility of suffering’. Global Media and Communication, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 329-351.

Hanusch, F. (2008) ‘Publishing the perished: The visibility of foreign death in Australian quality newspapers’, Media International Australia, vol. 125, pp. 29-45.

Elad Segev (2008) ‘The Imagined International Community: Dominant American Priorities and Agendas in Google News’. Global Media Journal, vol. 7, no. 13.


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