SJ: Week 11 Reading, Videos and Lecture Slides: “News Values and Objectivity”

Selected Reading

McNair, B. (2017). After Objectivity? Schudson’s sociology of journalism in the era of post-factuality. Journalism Studies, 18(10): 1318-1333


This essay takes Schudson’s pioneering work in the historical sociology of journalism as the starting point for an argument as to why the concept of objectivity can and must be re-evaluated in the digital era, if such a thing as a globalised public sphere, able to support further democratic progress in the decades ahead, is to be built from the “cultural chaos” of the internet. It explores the often ambivalent role a revised, more nuanced notion of objectivity plays in the legitimation of the proliferating journalisms and quasi-journalisms—what I will refer to collectively as the cultural form of factuality—now competing for users, market share and revenue on the internet. Finally, I will make some suggestions as to what objectivity could come to mean in the post-factual era.

Isaksen, J.V. and Jakobsen, T.G. (n.d.). Oscar Pistorius’ Fall from Grace – From a Media Sociological Perspective. Retrieved from: http://www.popularsocialscience.com/2013/02/25/oscar-pistorius-fall-from-grace-from-a-media-sociological-perspective/ 

The case involving famous athletic star Oscar Pistorius who last week was accused of murdering his girlfriend meets all the vital news value criteria. Looking at the case from a media sociological perspective the incident has all the important ingredients of a top news story. What exactly is it that makes this particular case so newsworthy?

BBC (2017, October 3). Las Vegas shootings: Is the gunman a terrorist?. Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41483943 

As details emerge about the Las Vegas gunman who killed at least 58 people and injured more than 500 others, an online debate has begun about why Stephen Paddock has not been labelled a terrorist.

Beckett, C. (2017, August 28). Journalism’s new mission: understanding the human. Retrieved from: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/polis/2017/08/28/journalisms-new-mission-understanding-the-human/ 

Journalists have to go with this flow of postmodern human nature. They  need to be more expert but they also need to be more ’empathetic’. They need to understand the ‘other’ lives better. That means getting out of the office physically and digitally, but it also means leaving the herd. Back in the 70s and 80s Birt was right to see that TV journalism needed to restructure itself. Not just organisationally but culturally.  40 years on and journalism is going through a profound disruption again in the face of technological transformations. It must not abandon all of its traditional virtues and craft. But the reinvention must be more than technical. The news media must rediscover its interest in understanding the human.

The following video was used in the lecture:

Lecture slides are available on Shuspace.