I’ll admit it, I heard about Miley Cyrus’s performance before I heard about the recent tragedies of the ongoing conflict in Syria. In my defence, I was one of 5,612,990 people that were discussing Miley’s actions the day after the VMA’s. According to data collected by Outbrain, American’s were 12 times more interested in Miley Cyrus than the Syrian conflict, even though news sources posted 2.4 articles about Syria to every 1 about Miley.
Miley twerking her way into the news bulletin brings us to the question of this week’s lecture – who counts in global media and what is considered newsworthy by old and new media? In order to be recognised in the global media, you must be considered newsworthy, and in order to be considered newsworthy, you must possess numerous features. These include; cultural proximity, relevance, rarity, continuity, elite references, composition, personalisation and negativity.
Before dissecting the values, or lack of, that exist in the media, we must consider the fact that news providers are in fact businesses with a specific agenda – to sell their stories. News corporations make daily sacrifices that may not align with their ethical guidelines in order to survive in the ever-competitive market. These sacrifices, including the lack of complete journalistic coverage of events, explain why foreign news is losing its place in mainstream media.
Peter Lee-Wright (2012) examines this concept in News Values: An Assessment of News Priorities Through a Comparative Analysis of Arab Spring Anniversary Coverage. In this text, Lee-Wright discusses the recent emergence of Arab media, which has begun to challenge the narrow propensities of the Western media. With reference to the post-2011 era, Lee-Wright states that the phenomenal events of the Arab Spring have brought the values and objectives of newsmakers into question. However, despite this landmark event appearing to halt the steady descent of foreign news, he maintains that the coverage was a ‘blip’ in contrast to the widespread coverage of other major foreign events.
Lee-Wright reviews the importance of broadcast news operations linking the major issues of the Arab Spring anniversary with a comparison of coverage, across a variety of platforms. He also reiterates that the mainstream media possesses a continuing focus on a ‘protest paradigm’ and the depiction of foreign news through a ‘Western filter’. He reports that the reduction in meaningful and in-depth foreign news coverage is a direct result of budget restraints. The dwindling public interest in foreign news has lead to news producers having to search for local angles on global issues in order to appeal to the audience. This often results in a diminished importance of an event, often through relating it to a minor local issue.
People would rather read about the ‘Loser of the Week’, whilst remaining blissfully unaware of major conflicts that are occurring all over the world. Unfortunately, we can never escape celebrity gossip. In the words of Jay-Z, “somewhere in America, Miley Cyrus is still twerking”.