Functions Of News

Submitted By lailac
Words: 6547
Pages: 27

There are three essential functions of news to inform, to educate and to entertain the audience. For an event to be considered news, it must be deemed newsworthy by showing its timeliness, proximity, prominence, consequence and human interest (Mishra 7). William Randolph Hearst once made a distinction between the interesting and what he called the merely important news. The interesting news attracts the mass public the merely important is addressed to small publics. Generally speaking, every newspaper needs both but the balance between the elements of its market gives each its peculiar character (Mishra 8). Television and newspapers need to produce interesting news because that will generate the highest viewer ship and therefore make the most profits for the company. It is this very simple, but important element of economics that guides most major television stations and newspapers. The media serves two functions in society to inform and enlighten the public on current affairs, and to generate profits for the company. In the medias role as a public servant to better the community, it often acts as the watchdog or gate keeper over police behavior. Social psychologist Kurt Lewin coined the term gatekeeper, in 1945 to signify those who make decisions concerning the flow of news and information. These gatekeepers collect the news and select information to present to the public (Fielder 32). Some newspaper and TV reporters are careful to maintain independence from the police and are ready and willing to expose corruption, incompetence, or brutality. The police often make sure to distinguish between reporters who can be trusted to protect the reputation of the law enforcement agencies and reporters who may at any time publish articles that reflect poorly on the police. Reporters who work hard to protect the integrity and name of the police, usually work for tabloids. They make up the inner circle which maintains a close relationship with law enforcement agencies and is privy to details of pending cases and other police work. Reporters who usually work for quality papers, and report unbiased news are in the outer circle. They are usually kept from some details of cases, and need to work harder to get the full information. Using this method of distinguishing between reporters and media outlets, police departments have strong control over their public image (Entertaining Crime 11). The second function of community news is called the Agenda Setting Theory. The information the media covers is not just watched and analyzed by the general public. Most politicians watch the news to understand what is going on in current affairs and what they think most citizens are interested in. Using the crime covered in the media as a guideline, politicians set legislation in motion to change those issues. As Bernard Cohen once said The press may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about (Lowry 65). A study conducted in 1973 by G. Ray Funkhouser compared the trends in public perceptions of the most important problems facing America with media coverage during the 1960s and with real world indicators. He found a high correlation between the media agenda and the public agenda, where the public agenda mirrored the media (Lowry 66) One of the ways the media can develop agendas through crime stories is through a crime wave. In late 1976, New York City experienced a major crime wave. The citys three daily newspapers and five local television stations reported a surge of violence against elderly people. The crime wave lasted about seven weeks, eventually receiving national television and newspaper coverage. Journalists developed a public definition of crime against the elderly. The perpetrators were generally African-American or Hispanic youths with long juvenile records living in ghetto neighborhoods. The outcry against the crimes