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Galtung and Ruge's model of news values

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 3062 words Published: 15th May 2017

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1 Using examples from one edition of a newspaper or a television newscast, critically evaluate Galtung and Ruge’s model of news values and their relevance in contemporary news culture.

Galtung J. and Ruge M. (1981) ‘Structuring and Selecting News’ in Cohen S. and Young J. The Manufacture of News Constable. (You may also find it useful to consult the fuller version of this article in Tunstall J. ed. Media Sociology: A Reader, Constable, 1970). The classic framework.

You should also use at least one of the following evaluations:

Bell A. (1991) The Language of News Media, Blackwell, p.155-161.

INTRODUCTION Johan Galtung and Marie Holmboe Ruge (1965) through their empirical research and theoretical approach on the models of news values defined it “as specific standards adhered to by media professionals in the structuring ,selection and production of news stories worthy of reporting to the audience by news reporter, journalist, and broadcasting media professionals also as a general guidelines and criteria that determines the worth of news and how much prominence is given by newspapers, radio, or television reporters”. News values are based on a variety of ideas or assumption which form the ideological background to the work of editors, reporters and journalist (Bell,1991).The way in which news is reported is heavily reliable, and dependent on the news provider’s processing , structuring and reporting of the news content to the audience through newspapers, television, and radio broadcast medium. News values practices both globally and locally can be analyzed alongside Galtung and Ruge’s (1967) model of news values providing comprehensive insight to the intentions of the news media industry and their relevance in contemporary news culture practices today both in the national and international news media as reported in the news by these journalist, reporters and media professionals making stories that are newsworthy.

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Galtung and Ruge’s model is very straight and comprehensive in its research and academic thoughts on how news are being structured , but not without criticism from other emerging scholars and academia on how relevant these news values can affect other media professionals, reporters, and journalist within in the international scene of contemporary news reporting, structuring and production in the media news values culture .

In a recent study, Cohen & Young,(1973) Galtung and Ruge’s models, have also supported and complemented these news values ideology involved in the structure and selection of news and its values making it newsworthy for the audience and readership. There are fundamentals to understanding news production and the choices that editors, producers and other journalists face in decision making on what news values seems more news worthy than another thereby making the media professionals responsible in accounting for the way the news are structured with particular reference to the news values ethical standards, norms and guides in the ideology of model of news values on journalism. Journalist have taken this analysis as a starting point and developed from it a set of principles that should used in identifying newsworthy information.

Bell (1991) illustrates Galtung and Ruge news values and discussion on the processes involved in the structuring, presentation and selection news stories report by journalist. These basic twelve news values provide a structural basis for journalists to report stories that are newsworthy to audience ensuring they conform with these ethics. In Galtung and Ruge’s model, if the news values are adhered to, the story will be successful in reaching, and keeping the public informed and update is largely based on the psychology of perception by the audience, and argues that audiences receive news stories through these factors referred to as the “news values” which the reporters, journalist and editors are responsible on making these news informative, entertaining in capturing their interest on the way news are consumed. Galtung and Ruge recognised that people cannot absorb very large amounts of news and information, they are choices of selection involved in the information and in doing so only select what seems important and of interest to them. It is in this process that journalists and news organization, professionals select and report information to appeal to its main consumers and readership. These news values now come into place, with news producers structuring the news reported around these values to achieve the greatest interest and impact in ensuring it attracts the interest of audience. (Cohen&Young, 1973)

Galtung and Ruge’s twelve news values can also be sub-divided , these news values includes the main basic eight universally accepted and the four which he termed can be culturally specific by media reports and journalist as a general factors consisting of frequency, amplitude, unambiguity, meaningfulness, consonance, unexpectedness, continuity,…while the other four factors negativity, threshold, cultural proximity are based on the cultural specification varying from national and international source of news processing, selection, and structuring involved in the event of news making and the worthiness of the news values . What we choose or select as news stories could be culturally determined, since the audience and readers cannot accumulate every news content, there is a choice of selection on individual differences, and the probability on how the issues in questions will attract a reader’s attention or listener (Cohen&Young, 1973). These values provide journalists with a mechanism to sort through quickly, process and select the news from that vast amount of information made available. have taken this analysis as a starting point and developed from it a set of principles that journalists should use to identify newsworthy information.

Although Galtung and Ruge model was researched over thirty years ago, it still remains the most adaptable and acceptable news values model until present day in news making and journalism. Most media analysis or discourse of news values will refer to most of Galtung and Ruge’s classification of news values despite the criticism from other academic scholars and schools of thought, which provides the ideology that important stories which scores highly on each value are likely to become the headline news bulletin, or make the front page of a newspaper stories or television broadcast. Also it is important to note that these news values factors were more implemented by reporters, journalist and media producers in the western and scandinavian countries of Galtung and Ruge’s model in the structure, selection and reporting of news content which will be critically evaluated from my point of view, though these news values being the dominant model ,it still varies from other national and international news reports, media broadcasting ideologies being practiced across other parts of the globe outside the western countries and north american hemisphere. According to other schools of thought by journalism and media scholars “there is no end to lists of news criteria” (p. 31). Among the many lists of news values that have been drawn up by scholars and journalists, some like Galtung and Ruge’s news values model attempts to describe news practices across cultures, while others have become remarkably specific to the press of certain (often western) nations “(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/News_values). Presently, virtually every media discourse and analytic discussion of news values will refer to most of Galtung and Ruge’s model of news values models.

In critically evaluating Galtung and Ruge’s twelve models of news values, a British newspaper editorial will be used in citing as a good evaluation analysis on how these news values hypothesis relates to present day processes of selection and structuring of news by editors , reporters, journalist and media professional in contemporary society and its criticism in properly analyzing the realities with reference to Britain newspaper within the western media context, and the news values critically evaluated in both foreign and local news media context on how these news values are being implemented for audience interest.


In the Sun news paper edition of Thursday, December 17, 2009 with the caption headline “JOE’S GOT FRIEND’S IN HIGH PLACES” illustrates the selection process of newsworthy media text by these newspaper editor’s to attract the audience readers with such a caption, Galtung and Ruge’s model analyses the need for inter- relationship of how these news values are being implemented by the news reporters, editor’s in making the lead front page story which relates to the way news reporting are selected, structured and presented to suit the basic norms and ethics guiding the news values processes in media industry.

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Cohen &Young (1981, pg56) states that structuring and selection of news stories can be highlighted with these news values that the more events concerns elite persons and elite nations activity makes a good newsworthy story in the selection process of the manufacturing of news stories. The front page lead story news headline involves the news values model of elite person and the elite nation with royalties of the government is being implemented by the news editor in making it a headline caption will be more of interest concerning global powers and the impact of the news with relevance on how these news may affect on the home culture and the lives of the people with the national context and specifically on the culture will definitely be the main interest of attention to the readership audience making it newsworthy lead front page story. The news values of “meaningfulness” with the audience who share same values, culture and ideology will make a good interest point and receive more media coverage which the lead page story of the editorial highlights and the hypothesis of “continuity” which the story been very accessible to the audience will definitely be included by the reporters’ in the selection process of the news, making it attractive to audience readership. Galtung and Ruge’s model that when a news seems to be very important to the audience and still running in media will be of great importance and continued to be covered by reporters for some time.(Bell

Bell’s (1991) evaluation of Galtung and Ruge news values model states that the presentation of a story enhances its chances of being news worthy for audience. The reference to elite person, and elite nation highlighted in the front page headline lead story of the newspaper and the news decision by editors, confirms with the news values ethics of western media industry in implementing these news model making it very favourable news within the competitive market of news media industry in ensuring the news gets to the audiences. The famous and powerful in the society are being treated of being of more importance which the front page story tends to capture as a newsworthy story and how their decision and action can affect people’s life, which is portrayed with the activities of such elite activity and its importance in making a good news from the journalist ideology of news values in contemporary western news culture, because it combines the public’s supposed interest with the famous and elite activity in the news within the cultural proximity of Britain which makes it a newsworthy story.

Gatlung and Ruge’s news values of “meaningfulness” inter relates in the front page story illustration of the event with the hypothesis of the relevance of these news affecting the lives of the people within the cultural proximity.(Bell,1991) The unambiguity news value model illustrated by Bell, states “that the more clear cut a story is, the more it is favoured” (Bell,1991) .But critically evaluating these model in the front page lead story on the Sun newspaper editorial , it can be critically evaluated that the editorial publication might not be of interest to someone outside the cultural proximity or geographical context of Britain, and the non -western media axis, from readers in another country and will not attract readership interest based on individual perception within the international and foreign news media context, and may vary from different norms and guides considering the news values and cultures on how reporters and journalist, editors in other non-western countries may structure, select and produce their news stories in contemporary news culture and journalism.

Galtung and Ruge’s hypothesis of “frequency ” in the lead story being the royal hierarchy in britain is a point of interest and attention to readers from the reporters and editors implementation of the news story making it a news headline front page story with the impact of the news headlines relating to the meaningfulness of the event, relevance in the lives of the people and the cultural proximity of the british audiences within the national scene, and journalist selection and production of these news stories. In critically evaluating Galtung and Ruge’s model on the front page story of the Sun Newspaper editorial, it can be evaluated that the use of “news codes” which the model pays little or no attention to with use of language in the front page story news with the use of photographs was very visible, and also being a newspaper editorial not all aspects of the news values are being captured by these medium. Meanwhile these news values model still remains the most comprehensive school of thought on media and journalism in western countries media on the news information selection and structuring by media reporters, and editors within international news and national news (Cohen &Young, 1973). The ideology of the news values model of these front page stories concentrates on the holders of political power not holder of the economic power within the news values. The criticism of these lead page story also centres on some news values model which it categorically states are responsible for the news ,but they are complex issues involved in news making than the


The “frequency” news value hypothesis as evaluated by Bell’s (1991) in the content of the news states that the best news is something which has only just happened making it definitely to be news worthy for attracting audience interest and readership, “The more similar the frequency of the event to the news medium, the more probable that it will be recorded as a news”(Cohen&Young, 1981). The sub- heading editorial on the front page headline new story with continuation on the second page lead story also has the combination of various news values which are inter- related in ensuring the news editor’s make a complete and interesting process involved in news selection, structuring to suit the audience. The news values of negativity in the newspaper highlights the editor’s approach of making the information of concern and interest which seems a Galtung and Ruge’s model in evaluating these news values model shown with the second page lead story “YOUNG ‘N DOLED” in the editorial with an emerging situation on the issues concerns the hypothesis of “threshold” which hold that the bigger the impact of the story and its relevance on the people , the better it make a good story relates in these second page editorial on the seriousness and will be of interest to audience with such caption headline news making it newsworthy. Galtung and ruge’s news values of meaningfulness shows that the audience will be attracted to such news , as an event which seems to affect the lives of the audiences seems more relevance as being newsworthy. The cultural proximity of Britain and the impact on how it affects all the people will enhance its newsworthiness to the audience within the international news media agenda. In Bell’s evaluation on these news values, the negativity hypothesis makes the second page story very understanding on the news selection process by the editors on how the journalist and editor shape the news content and making it very interesting good news process of structuring, selection and presentation to its reading audience. Though the news has a short fall in the consonance, and composition news values model which doesn’t make it a complete news values report by journalism ethics and the reports maybe biased, and inaccurate as a political propaganda by political opponents. Bell (1991) states that “negativity” news values makes the formal norm of news reporting from historical perspective, that bad news makes a good news story which journalist argue with Galtung and Ruge’s model of news value and its very conflicting that what attracts audience interest is bad news in media reporting, which seems illustrated in the second page lead story news caption. “Bad news stories are more likely to be reported than good news because they are more likely to score high on other news values, such as threshold, unexpectedness, unambiguity and meaningfulness “.Thomas(2009)

Galtung and Ruge’s news values with the hypothesis of “threshold” holds an important issue in the seriousness of the news article and situation affecting the lives of the people. The process involved in the organization, selection and presentation of these news stories from the editor’s although analysis by J. Galtung and M. Ruge showed that several factors are consistently applied across a range of news organizations on how best these makes up a good news story to the audience.


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