That special someone

A few days ago Rob Wijnberg wrote an article for The Correspondent, stating that the news is ruled by the highly exceptional. He argues that journalists generally cover news about extraordinary events and people, leaving the general majority underexposed. Despite this it is this news that is read or watched by the vast majority and makes an impact on our way of thinking about the world.

Harcup and O’Neill (2001) evaluate the news values posed by Galtung and Ruge (1965). Their conclusion contains a contemporary set of news values: the power elite, celebrity, entertainment, surprise, bad news, good news, magnitude, relevance, follow-up and newspaper agenda. If we take the argument of Wijberg in consideration at least 8 out of the 10 proposed news values are about exceptional groups of people or events.

I think it is our duty as journalists (in spe) to critically reflect at our methods of searching for news stories and storytelling. Not only can we question the adversarial way of covering news, we can take in consideration why we cover certain stories and why we do not cover other. In other words, do the news values we consciously or unconsciously take in consideration when we choose our news items, contribute to the truth of our worldview?


Johan Galtung and Mari Holmboe Ruge (1965) The Structure of Foreign News, Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 2, No. 1 , 64-91

Tony Harcup & Deirdre O’Neill (2001) What Is News? Galtung and Ruge revisited, Journalism Studies, 2:2, 261-280

Laura Das

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