Assess the view that the news is a social construction. (33 marks)
There are many sociological ideas that contribute to our understanding to whether or not the news is a social construction. The news may be seen as a ‘window on the world’ to some, however, others would argue that the news in not objective, and instead it only reflects ideas of the power elite.
McQuail argues that the news is socially manufactured product that has been through a selective process, made by what he calls gatekeepers. This is the idea that journalists and editors control what is considered newsworthy, and consequently what appears in the news. There are many unrecorded events that happen in the world that do not make the news. This may be for a number of reasons, mainly being that the ideology portrayed must reflect that of the powerful groups. This shows how the news is a social construction based on what people that have access to such media deem worth being published.
News values may influence gatekeepers in deciding what to appear in news. This refers to general guidelines or criteria that determine the worth of a news story and how much prominence it is given by newspapers or broadcast media. If a story is considered newsworthy, it is likely to be published as this is likely to attract a larger audience, or in terms of newspapers, attract more consumers. Galtung and Ruge developed a list of eleven news values that are used by journalists. For example, threshold means that if the event is big, or has affected many people, it is likely to be reported. For instance the Ebola crisis. Another example is continuity. If a story has achieved importance, it will continue to be covered over a period of time. This can often lead to a moral panic. This supports the view that the news is a social construction, because news is only reported if it fits the news values that make it newsworthy. However, it may be argued that these news values are necessary to keep the audience engaged with...