When you think of important news, what first comes to your mind? For me, issues that are powerfully influencing my life and the lives of those around me are what I consider most important. The Ebola outbreak, climate change and the Isis conflict – news stories that have a global element to the content, public space and the audiences they reach. But, over the past few decades, news has been in a state of constant change, both in the way that we are consuming it and moreover, what actually is classified as news. News is ultimately defined as newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent events (The Free Dictionary 2014). But, does what we are being bombarded with really classify as ‘noteworthy’? Almost every news outlet is covered with stories about celebrities and their lives; information that really, no one except the celebrities themselves need to know. Whilst thankfully most news outlets (except the ones that primarily focus on ‘entertainment’ – although calling them ‘news’ outlets is debatable) do include what I consider to be important news within their collection of stories of the day, news values of today are generally pretty much ignored. We are seeing so much celebrity news in our daily media intake that ‘important’ news seems less relevant and more easily ignored amongst the huge amount of ‘news’ that we are presented with. This should be the complete opposite: we should watch the news or read a newspaper and get such a wide range of information about global and local important issues that when celebrity news does appear, it should seem out-of-place and inappropriate.
Let’s look at The Daily Mail for example, also known as Hate Mail, Daily Fail, Daily Moan and so on, it is probably one of the most prime examples of bad news reporting. It’s the 13th of October right now and last night Australia was ‘rocked’ by the shocking news of the popular television show The Block achieving disappointing results at auctions. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love The Block, and of course I do know a fair bit about celebrities, whether that intake of knowledge is intentional or unintentional, I’m not too sure, but regardless, I know that there are more important news stories happening today than The Block. The homepage of the online Daily Mail is covered with stories about celebrities; in fact, there are about 140 celebrity-based articles featured. Perhaps one of the most important global issues today is the outbreak of Ebola, but does The Daily Mail seem concerned? Well, unless you consider a tiny article about half way down the homepage as a sign of concern, then no. Imagine if a celebrity was diagnosed with Ebola though, The Daily Mail would crash!
As audience members, we expect newspapers, television and radio to be full of important news; but, when there are not enough stories occurring that journalists see as ‘important’, news reporters are forced to synthesise ‘pseudo-events’ – staged stories that are convenient to the benefit of either the mass media or politicians. A perfect example is the ‘children overboard’ scandal that occurred in 2001. The representation of the event in the media negatively altered our perceptions of asylum seekers and deceptively concealed actual circumstances in order for the Howard government to receive political gain (Khorana 2014)
Noteworthy news features many different values which contribute to it actually being noteworthy. I want you to think about The Block scandal and consider how many of these values this ‘news’ actually holds.
Cultural proximity: how culturally similar a story is
Relevance: what the story may imply for the audience
Rarity: the rarer the story, the better
Continuity: whether the story will be considered news some time after the event
Elite references: in terms of nations and people
Negativity: Negative news is more consensual as there is agreement that the news is negative
Composition: The story will be selected and arranged according to the editor
Personalisation: the events are seen as the actions of individuals
Now, consider these news values in terms of the Ebola outbreak. It fits every one, it is obviously entirely newsworthy, and does not deserve to be placed beneath celebrity (not-so) ‘shocking news’.
By our news being vandalized by celebrity stories, much needed global coverage of Australian and international issues, politics and states of war is being taken away and replaced by stories that will have little impact on the audience whatsoever, completely disregarding the definition of what news is in the first place.
Sort your self out Daily Mail.
Daily Mail Australia 2014, Daily Mail Australia online homepage, Daily Mail, viewed 13 October 2014, <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/auhome/index.html>.
Khorana, S 2014, ‘Who Counts in Global Media: News Values’, lecture, BCM111, University of Wollongong, delivered 24 September 2014.
Kowch Media 2014, Breaking News, image, Kowch Media, viewed 13 October 2014,
Lee-Wright, P 2012, News Values: An Assessment of News Priorities Through a Comparative Analysis of Arab Spring Anniversary Coverage, JOMEC Journal, University of London.
Trioli, V 2012, Tandberg in The Age, image, Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 13 October 2014, <http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/reith-rewrites-history-to-hide-the-shame-of-children-overboard-lie-20120831-255u3.html>.