Journalistic and Commercial News Value: News Organizations as Patrons of an Institution and Market Actors

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JOURNALISTIC AND COMMERCIAL NEWS VALUES Journalistic and Commercial News Values News Organizations as Patrons of an Institution and Market Actors SIGURD ALLERN Why do some events fill the columns and air time of news media, while others are ignored? Why do some stories make banner headlines whereas others merit no more than a few lines? What factors decide what news professionals consider newsworthy? Such questions are often answered – by journalists and media researchers alike – with references to journalistic news values or ‘news criteria’. Some answers are normatively founded; others are pragmatic and descriptive. In the present article, I submit that editorial priorities should not be analyzed in purely journalistic terms. Instead,…show more content…
By virtue of this myth or rationale, media companies are respected as patrons of the institution of news. Knut Helland describes the network of institutional linkages surrounding news media, as follows: “It is in the tension between performing idealized societal functions and serving up attractive products on the market that news reporting evolves as productional practices, as texts and as objects of interpretation“ (Helland 1999:189). In an institutional perspective journalism cannot be considered a uniform or monolithic force or collective player. Institutions are complex and allow room for conflicting interpretations, priorities and solutions. How news companies and news desks perform their ‘custodial’ role in practice depends on numerous factors, e.g., the economic resources at their disposal and their relations to multiple markets: the stock market, advertising, the information market and users. Tracking News Values News is produced under different conditions, often in haste, and by people who may have different ideas as to what is important. Unexpected events – such as a journalist calling in sick – can influence editorial priorities: a story that surely would have been covered might be ignored due to a single reporter’s illness. A major

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