I present a seminar about ‘news values’ to level one media students. It can be a little mundane. I normally kick off with a few classic examples of news values…exclusivity, newness and timeliness. I then bang out a few well-worn journalism cliches, such as the one involving a ‘man biting a dog’ and the other one which says that ‘if it bleeds it leads’.
So far, so mundane. But this is where the fun begins. Students are asked to pull up news articles from the papers which support the ‘classic’ values I outline. Except these days it’s becoming increasingly hard to find them!
Forget the idea of ‘comment’ being ‘free’, it seems like opinion is poisoning news articles everywhere you turn. The dumbing down theory has been around for years. But ITV news is obsessed with chasing an audience of upmarket under 35s. Unfortunately, its had to sex up its evening news to encourage this elusive, advertiser-friendly, group to watch. BBC Breakfast has turned into the TV equivalent of the Daily Express.
So I’ve decided to change my seminars….I’ll show an episode of the Day Today and then I’ll bring up this blog post by the morning news editor of BBC News 24, Simon Waldman. In this case, it’s not a dog that is at the centre of the story, but a cute Panda. It tells students all they need to know about modern day news values.