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The Effect Of Newsroom Structure And Practice On News Selection

1724 words - 7 pages

Newsroom structures and practice are crucial in the shaping of news selection. The way in which newsrooms are structured, and the manner with which they operate is at the very core of what news is presented to consumers. The newsroom is one of the most essential organs in the world of journalism; enabling the selection of news most relevant to the demands of consumers. However, the newsroom is not immune to change and adaptation, and it's structures and practice are evolving as technology and other factors combine to alter the preferences of the media-consuming public. The operation of the newsroom must keep pace with these changes in demand, if traditional news media are to retain their place in the market.

Story meetings are an important aspect of newsroom practice that directly affect how news is selected. Editors and journalists come together to discuss news of the day, make decisions as to what is important, and decide which stories will appear on the front page. According to Cotter (2010) these meetings are where the “newspaper's orientation to the community of coverage” is selected (pp. 89) Therefore, story meetings have a large impact on what type of news is selected, and how this news is presented to consumers. These meetings help editors create the story hierarchy, ensuring that the most relevant news is presented first. Buckalew's news factors (significance, prominence, proximity, timeliness, visuality, and normality) are seen by many editors in the newsroom as important criteria for the selection of the most relevant and important news. The more of these factors a story contains, the more likely it is to be considered newsworthy. (Staab, 1990, pp. 424) Editors attempt to rationalise the news selection on the basis of the extent to which news factors and news values are invoked in the stories selected. (Cotter, 2010, pp. 93)

Ensuring the flow of news is one way that newsroom practice shapes news selection. Deadlines must be met to ensure a viable news publication. It would be no use, for example, for a newspaper to receive its stories after the presses had started rolling. A constant flow of news therefore ensures that there will never be a lack of content to publish or broadcast on time. To facilitate a regular stream of news, a common newsroom practice is using news rounds, also known as news beats. (Tully, 2011) By assigning journalists to cover institutions with a high level of news output over time, such as the healthcare sector, or the courts, this regular stream is made more secure. As a considerable proportion of published news in a newspaper or broadcast may come from material gathered during news rounds, this practice clearly shapes news selection.

Hierarchy within the departmental structure of the newsroom also serves to shape news selection. Different departments tend to be seen by editors as presenting more valuable news of a higher level of quality. Because of these perceived differences, stories from certain...

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