What is news

Christmas is coming
Christmas is coming

“When a dog bites a man, that is not news; but if a man bites a dog, that is news,” Alfred Harmsworth, a British newspaper magnate said. From this perspective, according to the National Council for the Training of Journalists, news is defined as “information that is new, relevant to reader, topical and probable extraordinary,” (cited in O’Neil. D and Harcup, p.162). Alstair Hatjerington, former Fleet Street editor added that news should be interesting (cited in O’Neil. D and Harcup, p.162).

“News is people” based on Evan (cited in Watson & Hill, 2003, p.31). “About people doing the unexpected and dramatic, not the run-of-the-mill,” things, attributed by Mark Henderson, a Times Journalist (2003). Therefore, David Randall (2000, p.23) concluded news is “the fresh, unpublished, unusual and generally interesting” and may be predictable stories (Harcup, 2004). Literally, news is something new happened surroundings and reported by mass media, such as television, newspapers and the Internet. The dilemma is that there are thousands of events occurred every day, while the space of a piece of newspaper or a website page is limited.

Jakie Harrison (2006, p.13) identified News as a report or an article “is judged to be newsworthy by journalists, who exercise their news sense within the constraints of the news organisations within which they operate.” The next question is how to define newsworthiness, in other words, when selecting stories, how journalists judge which stories are more significant than others. News is the message sent by media institutions and through which to reinforce ideology on “receivers”.

According to Hall’s (cited in Laughey. D, 2007, p. 61) Encoding/Decoding model, he drew an analogy between news and codes. Producer encoded message and transformed to medium then is decoded by audiences, whereas the whole process “may not be perfectly symmetrical” (Hall 1980:131). It means that the intended message injected by the sender may not be consistent with the meaning interpreted by a receiver. In other words, when receiving the message, some audiences may agree with, some may half agree and some may disagree. News is the myth created by media institutions to live show the world to the public. Laughey (2007, p. 58) applied Barthes’ mythology to news, he set an example of BBC News 24. He explained that the broadcast channel prepared the different topics of news stories and showed them when headline appears “on the hour”. What he argued is that news does not occur “on the hour”, while it happens any time. The headline “on the hour” creates an illusion for audiences that news is “occurring”. News is the tool to promote or propaganda the elites (e.g. politicians and celebrities). Media institutions are profit-making institutions and their basic aim is to earn money.


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