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Uses of the News. Contextual uses: household activities Times associated with news are naturalized Informational uses: keeping up: issues Legitimating uses Tension: control and distance about issues Feeling of control: agency to do something Diversional uses: visual narrative

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Uses of the News

  • Contextual uses: household activities

    • Times associated with news are naturalized

  • Informational uses: keeping up: issues

  • Legitimating uses

    • Tension: control and distance about issues

    • Feeling of control: agency to do something

  • Diversional uses: visual narrative

    • Entertainment aspect of news

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What is “News?”

  • What constitutes “news”:

    • Significance?

    • Relevance: to whom?

    • Unusual, sensational?

    • Useful: for what?

    • Non-threatening/non-ideological?

    • Informational vs. analysis?

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Personal News Sources

  • Where do you access what types of news:

    • TV

    • Newspapers

    • Radio

    • Internet

    • Late night talk shows

    • Word of mouth conversation

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Audiences for News

  • Network news/Nightline: older audiences

  • Problem: younger generation less interested

    • Younger audiences: desired advertising

  • Shift in younger generation’s interests

    • Shift in focus/appearance of news

    • Increased use of Internet vs. newspapers

    • Shift in newspaper layout/topics

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7 S’s for Analyzing News (see “activities: news analysis”)

  • Stories: what’s covered and what’s left out?

  • Sequence: what gets priority?

  • Scope: how much coverage/time?

  • Structure: how organized using what?

  • Style: how presented by writer/anchor?

  • Slant: what bias is evident?

  • Sponsor: content shaped by sponsors?

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Analyzing Bias/Slant (see activity: noting bias) analysis”)

  • Selection and omission: topics/quotes

  • Placement

  • Headline: determines further reading

  • Photos, captions, camera angles

  • Names, categories, titles

  • Statistics/crowd count

  • Source control: who’s quoted?

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Analysis of Objectivity/Balance analysis”)

  • Objectivity: difficult to define

    • Role of bias, subjectivity, agendas in reporting

  • Balance: preferred criteria for journalists

    • Use of different perspectives/sources

    • Understanding all sides of an issue

    • Problem of who gets to speak/status of sources

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Text Design/Structure analysis”)

  • What genres (report, narrative, analysis, visual dramatization) are employed?

  • How is language/images used to represent?

    • Categories/labels to describe participants

    • Syntax: active vs. passive

    • Formal vs. informal verbal style

    • Image selection/relationship to language

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Text Design/Structure analysis”)

  • Typeface/type style

    • Use of BOLD

    • Typeface/styles varied (tabloid vs. mainstream)

  • Grid: number of columns

  • Picture size/uses

  • Organization: categories of types of news

    • Masthead, stories, “plugs,” sports, ads

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Discourse Analysis: (see ideology and the news) analysis”)

  • Ideological assumptions operating in the news industry

    • public figures have an obligation to answer to journalists and answer their questions

    • the news media is the fourth estate, playing a watchdog role on government and power.

    • the most important thing journalists cover are the arenas of government and politics.

    • that journalists are the messenger only; that they report, rather than acting.

    • there is an objective account of events that all reasonable observers would agree with.

    • that journalists should tell both sides.

    • that journalists can and should leave their biases out of their stories.

    • that there is no staging or conspiring to improve on stories between journalists and those they cover.

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Analysis of Discourses Employed analysis”)

  • What discourses are employed/included?

    • Discourses: ways of knowing/thinking: legal, scientific, political, religious, therapeutic, etc.

  • How are discourses employed/reported?

    • Reporting, analysis, quotes

  • Who employs what discourses for what purpose?

    • “Government experts”

    • Political/lobbying groups

    • “Person on the street”

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Differences between Newspapers analysis”)

  • National/ “major” newspapers

    • New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal

  • Major regional newspapers

  • Local newspapers/free news magazines

  • School newspapers

  • Tabloids

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Corporate Ownership and News analysis”)


  • AOL/TimeWarner: CNN

  • Disney: ABC

  • Viacom: CBS

  • Murdoch News: FOX News

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Aspects of TV News analysis”)

  • Narrativization of events

    • Dramatization of conflict/tensions

  • Conversational interplay

    • “happy talk”

  • News readers as “personalities”

  • Immediacy: “Up to the minute”

  • Visual montage: multi-modal

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Aspects of TV News analysis”)

  • Anchor as primary actor/media celebrity

    • Personalization of news

    • Use of direct address/simulated eye contact

  • Correspondents as extensions of anchor

    • Links to correspondent “on the scene”

    • Assumption: being “on the scene” = being better informed about an event

  • Interviewees

    • Who’s selected and whom do they represent

    • Framing/shots to dramatize attitudes (60 Minutes)

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Aspects of TV News analysis”)

  • “If it bleeds, it leads”:

    • focus on visual/sensational events

    • Little contextual analysis of causes/institutional factors shaping events

  • Issue of community significance/relevance

    • Texas station selects events based on relevance to the community vs. sensational appeal

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Aspects of TV News analysis”)

  • Flow of reports

    • Segmentation/repetition

    • Reordering traditional notions of time

  • Direct address: “you” as constructed

    • Host directly addresses audience

    • Host conducts simulated conversation with guests

  • Personality/ “synthetic personalization”

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Viewing of TV News analysis”)

  • TV news within domestic life

  • Ritual-like reassurance that “all’s well”

    • Creates synthetic sense of “community”

    • Anchors as active in supporting events

    • Focus on visual display of events

    • Avoid challenging audience beliefs/ideologies

    • Need for simulated sense of community membership

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Alternatives: Public TV/radio News analysis”)

  • PBS Newshour

    • In-depth coverage of 3-4 stories

    • Context: institutional forces

    • Alternative ideological perspectives

  • NPR All Things Considered

    • Value of radio: no needs for visuals

    • Extended interviews for balance

    • No commercial agendas/bias

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Assignment: Comparison of News Media on the Web analysis”)

  • Contrast coverage of the same story on 3 or more of the following categories:

    • Major US newspapers (go to websites)

    • International newspapers (go to “5000 newspapers” site)

    • Commercial TV/radio Networks (go to websites)

    • Public TV/radio (

    • Local or state newspapers (go to websites)

    • “Liberal” (Mother Jones) vs. “conservative” (The Weekly Standard) perspectives

    • Mainstream news vs. tabloid (go to The National Inquirer/Sun websites)