‘Debate Whether Galtung and Ruge's (1967) Model of the News Value Is Still Relevant in an Age of New Media, Citizen Journalism and User-Generated Content.'

Topics: Journalism, Mass media, Blog Pages: 10 (3191 words) Published: March 5, 2008

The media in Western society provides a ‘fourth estate' that alleges a neutral, objective and balanced perspective, independent of political input. The news forms the basis of this ‘fourth estate', playing an important role in keeping the public informed and therefore promoting democracy (Marris and Thornham, 1996).

Daily there are millions of possible news headlines of which, only a small sample are published (Harcup and O'Neill, 2001). Journalists appear to have an unvoiced compilation of guidelines or news values passed down through education as well as industry experience, which aid them to decipher the newsworthiness of a story. It is these news values, which Galtung and Ruge attempted to identify in their 1967 study. Galtung and Ruge suggested in their key hypothesis that the more news values that are adhered to, the more likely a story is to be published (Reinemann and Schulz, 2006).

Walter Lippman first introduced the concept of the ‘news value' in 1922. Lippman focused on news factors such as whether a story involved ‘influential institutions, dramatic increase of damage, or a breach of order such as a strike or lockout.'(Kepplinger and Ehmig, 2006). As would be expected research into news values has progressed immensely since this period, however, despite contemporary research having been undertaken, it is ‘Galtung and Ruge's paper, which has long been regarded as a ‘landmark' study of news values and news selection.'(Watson, 1998 cited in Harcup and O'Neill, 2001).

News values can be defined as "…‘journalists' hypotheses about the relevance of events" (Schulz, 1976 cited in Reinemann and Schulz, 2006). In a rapidly evolving and competitive market, it is vital for journalists to interpret what it is that is relevant, interesting and appropriate for their readership.

Modern research implies that ‘the Internet has altered journalistic norms and values as well as public expectations in terms of news content.'(Kovarick, 2002 cited in Yun et al, 2007). Therefore, it is important to consider if Galtung and Ruge's ‘landmark study' is still relevant in a digital era of new media, citizen journalism and user-generated content.

The twelve news values (See AX p. 10) proposed by Galtung and Ruge (1967) define the criteria of news worthiness with the last four values relating specifically to the Western Media. The study can be criticised methodologically because the sample of texts was limited purely to the study of foreign news. Therefore, arguably it cannot be generalised to other cultures - an important quality for social research in today's multi-cultural society. However, Reinemann and Schulz (2006) found this not to be the case after their analysis of ‘news values' in Mexican newspapers. Their study concluded that even in a non-western culture such as Mexico, the ‘news values' model is still relevant including ‘the hypothesis of selection' which was ‘able to predict the selection process.'

The study is limited demographically in terms of the researchers themselves, as Galtung and Ruge were two ‘white-middle classed men'. Therefore, experimenter bias is an issue as the two researchers were likely to have mad similar ideologies. It is through these men that journalists have acquired their knowledge and it must be questioned as to whether their beliefs on what is deemed important and what is labelled ‘soft' is relevant to the generations of the twenty-first century, which include multi-race, multi-gender and multi-classed citizens (Coote, 1981, cited in Hartley, 1982).

In terms of its' historical context, Galtung and Ruge's study could be considered by some to be dated, particularly ‘within the context of increasingly multi-media landscape.'(Harcup and O'Neill, 2001). However, as McQuail (1994, cited in Harcup and O'Neill, 2001) states, ‘More...
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