What makes party messages fit for reporting? An experimental study of journalistic news selection
Faculty of Social Sciences. Political Sciences
Political communication. - London, 1992, currens
, p. 59-77
University of Antwerp
Studies on news values have provided many insights into what gets reported in the media. In this study we use the concept of news values to examine how journalists perceive the newsworthiness of party messages. Taking an innovative approach, fictional party press releases are used to test for the influence of five important news values in the context of political news in a factorial survey experiment. This allows us to study those news values in relation to one another in a controlled experimental setting, an advantage over traditional gatekeeping studies. Political journalists in Switzerland and the Netherlands were asked to indicate whether they would consider these press releases for reporting or not. Findings show that the power status of the party, unexpectedness, and the magnitude of the political action announced influence journalists perception of newsworthiness. Messages from parties that were part of government were more likely to be selected for coverage in the Netherlands, whereas the party did not matter in Switzerland, where power is distributed more evenly. This shows that political system characteristics influence the work of journalists. Opposed to results from content analyses of news output, some news values (personal status, conflict) did not prove to be relevant. In the conclusion section we elaborate on potential explanations.