You’ll probably remember this news of more than eight (!) years ago like it happened yesterday. That’s because since then, the story – Chris Brown and Rihanna had a passionate relationship, ending when he beat her up in a car after a quarrel – kept hitting the newspapers year after year. Up until last August, when Chris ‘got into detail’ again about his relationship with Rihanna in a new documentary.
Why do we still want to read about the inside stories of a fatal love affaire that ended almost a decade ago? According to Galtung and Ruge (1965) in their standard work on the structures of news this has a few clear reasons. When the event refers to elite people (popstars), the event passes a threshold (the injuries in Rihanna’s face were really bad), when we can culturally relate to the event (a modern heterosexual relationship goes bad) and when the event is relevant to us (violence is something everyone has to deal with), it’s likely to become big news.
Also, according to Harcup and O’Neill (2001) an event will have a bigger chance of getting real news when it contains some good pictures. Rihanna’s pretty face all bruised and beaten up was shocking footage and therefore must have added to the newsworthiness of the story.
Concluding then, as Hanitzsch and Mellado (2011) point out, media also have influence on one another as reference groups: what do my colleagues write about? When shownews gets big, even The Guardian at some point will decide to make an item about it.
Luckily Riri didn’t get fed up with men because of the whole situation. It’s said that she’s dating a billionaire now who flew a life-size cuddling bear her way on his private jet just to impress her.
Galtung, J., & Ruge, M. H. The Structure of Foreign News. Journal of Peace Research 2(1) (1965), 64-91.
Hannitschz, T., & Mellado, C. What Shapes the
News around the World? How Journalists in Eighteen Countries Perceive Influences on Their Work. International Journal of Press/Politics 16(3) (2011), 404–426.
Harcup, T., & O’Neill, D. What Is News? Galtung and Ruge revisited. Journalism Studies 2(2) (2001), 261-280.