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Title: "We just write what we think is newsy" : an analysis on newsworthiness constructions in Malaysian newspapers
Author: Othman, S. S.
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2012
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Studies on newsworthiness have developed mainly into two ways of explaining how events become news. These approaches, which have been called object-driven and subject-driven news values, have contributed a lot in the quest for understanding news. Previous empirical studies on news have demonstrated that concepts used as abstractions of social practices, such as newsworthiness construction, suffer either from object-driven news values explanation about newsworthiness that seeks to locate news value in the news events themselves, or from subject-driven news values which see news making as being exclusively concerned with hidden motives that are often unbeknown even to the practitioners themselves. The practitioners are, therefore, forced to explain newsworthiness by invoking contexts that are already known; for example, in terms of editorial decisions based on political, cultural and/or organisational identities which are ‘external’ to immediate empirical encounters, because such identities are compositions of a range of contextual factors. Here, news studies have developed in a way that has created a rift between journalism theory and journalism practice, mainly because many researchers and theorists understand social actions only through modes of abstraction that have become disconnected from the practical intelligence of news making. Influenced by the Actor Network Theory (ANT), this study attempts to study newsworthiness construction from ‘intensive’ contexts in order to understand whether or not newsworthiness in Malaysian newspapers is a culturally-specific phenomenon. Concepts of ANT are deployed to study a range of qualitative data gathered from observations and ethnographic interviews that serve as a supplement to the weaknesses of both the aforementioned approaches. The case of Malaysia should make clear the extent to which a focus on intensive contexts enables us to explore the specificity of news making in six Malaysian newspapers, namely the New Straits Times (the NST), Berita Harian (BH), The Sun (TS), Sinar Harian (SH), Harakah (Hh) and XX (anonymous). The research reveals a heterogeneity in newsworthiness construction that it is more complex than simply assuming that newsworthiness is something ‘out there’ (such as newsworthiness criteria); instead, newsworthiness is an effect of accreditation of different interests. Thus, the collective identity of the newspapers is the effect of the critique on newsworthiness criteria. However, ANT allows identity to be scrutinised further by treating it as a virtual object. This study demonstrates that the distinct identity of the newspaper can be investigated by tracing the enrolment of the news angle. Besides identity, concepts such as readership remain important in studying newsworthiness construction and have also been scrutinised as a virtual object to retain its link to intrinsic contexts in order to explore the distance between the conception of readership and the actual reader. Although readership has mainly been examined under such abstractions, concepts in ANT allow the multiple associations with real readers to be traced. The heterogeneity and complexity of newsworthiness construction is also demonstrated in a case study about the smallest newspaper organisation in this study, which suggests that even the smallest organisations embrace complex associations of news practices that have global associations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available