The Wall Street Journal's website featured story's about the debt limit, Janet Yellen and Obamacare — all important and timely stories.

The front page of the New York Times on Feb. 11 featured stories about drone strikes, health care and minimum wage in New York — all important stories as well. The page also focused on more analytical stories in the bottom-fold.

CBS Evening News focused on visually appealing and interesting stories like the storm, an Italian mafia ring and Obama's state dinner.

Essay #3

As a news consumer moves from platform to platform, the flavor of news is never the same. When he opens the morning newspaper, he expects and receives long-form analysis of important stories of the day. When he is at work with a short attention span, he checks online for quick updates of those same stories or new important developments. Finally, he sits comfortably after work to watch the interesting, visual recap of the day with the evening news. An analysis of three news organizations on February 12 confirms this narrative. The New York Times (NYT) morning paper focuses on the important and impactful news with an analytical twist to grab interest. Wall Street Journal online (WSJ) also emphasizes important news, but accentuates shorter and timely posts. CBS Evening News (CBS) is most different from the two, highlighting interesting, singular news with visual elements over important stories. Audience expectations change according to platform, and editors cater to those changing expectations. While newspaper and website editors prioritize what the audience needs to know, television producers serve visually appealing news that interests the viewer.

 

Newspapers and news websites provide the important news of the day, albeit in different ways. The NYT top story, “De Blasio Plans Minimum Wage and City ID Cards,” demonstrates the newspaper’s commitment to local news with proximity value. The WSJ, on the other hand, pushed “Boehner Sets Vote on Debt Limit Without Conditions” — a national politics and important story — to the top of its site. While both stories are impactful, timely and important, they highlight a nuanced difference in local versus national loyalty. Beyond the top story, both organizations continue the trend of important stories with coverage of Obamacare delays and Janet Yellen’s new economic policy. This trend proves that the “gatekeepers” of both organizations clearly agree with John C. Merrill’s theory: “If the people … do not know about public affairs and government business, they surely cannot be good sovereigns … they must know” (Media Debates, 75). These news organizations diverge at further examination of bottom-fold stories and lower-priority coverage. NYT’s bottom-fold had three analytical stories about heroin addiction, the speed of publishing books and Israeli jobs while the WSJ provided shorter updates about the Olympics, the winter storm in the South and an Afghanistan exit plan. All stories still hold importance (although, one could argue that Olympics coverage is not essential news) but the news organization garners interest in differing ways. The NYT’s three stories attracted readers with its long-form, investigative tone while the WSJ’s three stories appealed to the nature of breaking news and timeliness. Despite these differences in length, analysis and timeliness, the editors of both news organizations want to provide the audience with important and impactful stories.

 

While those organizations had a clear emphasis on important stories, television news producers emphasize stories that combine attractive visuals and interesting aspects. While it is true that CBS picked an important event for its lead story (the Southern storm), the story’s visual appeal elevated its position in the program over more the stories that the WSJ and NYT showcased. Some of the WSJ and NYT stories did find their way into the CBS broadcast — such as the debt ceiling increase, Yellen’s announcement and the stock market — but they were only quick anchor scripts, not fleshed out reporter segments. The “gatekeepers” at CBS chose to spend time on stories that either had awesome graphic components or a high level of interesting drama: an Italian mafia ring hiding drugs in pineapples, a Floridian white man killing a black boy who was playing loud music and the French president’s love affair changing the dynamics of Obama’s state dinner. CBS, compared to NYT and WSJ, focused less on hard news (albeit the storm was an important story) and more on singularity. This phenomenon may be because “America’s journalistic leaders [have] been transformed into businesspeople,” according to Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel (Elements, 52). In other words, CBS producers may be acting more like businesspeople looking for a surge in ratings rather than a well-informed public. News consumers are drawn to interesting television shows and perhaps are as much to blame. Whatever the case, it is clear that television producers have a very different definition of “newsworthy” than newspaper or news website editors.

 

A look at three different platforms of three different media outlets conveys the way audience expectations and desires completely alter editorial decisions. NYT’s dedication to analytical, important stories and WSJ’s emphasis on timely, important posts highlight newspapers’ and news websites ‘ commitment to service journalism. On the other hand, CBS’s focus on visually appealing, interesting segments showcases television journalism’s business-minded editorial decisions. If consumer desires are driving these discrepancies in editorial decisions, perhaps it is time for the American public to hold their news organizations accountable to create a well-informed public.

As a news consumer moves from platform to platform, the flavor of news is never the same. When he opens the morning newspaper, he expects and receives long-form analysis of important stories of the day. When he is at work with a short attention span, he checks online for quick updates of those same stories or new important developments. Finally, he sits comfortably after work to watch the interesting, visual recap of the day with the evening news. An analysis of three news organizations on February 12 confirms this narrative. The New York Times (NYT) morning paper focuses on the important and impactful news with an analytical twist to grab interest. Wall Street Journal online (WSJ) also emphasizes important news, but accentuates shorter and timely posts. CBS Evening News (CBS) is most different from the two, highlighting interesting, singular news with visual elements over important stories. Audience expectations change according to platform, and editors cater to those changing expectations. While newspaper and website editors prioritize what the audience needs to know, television producers serve visually appealing news that interests the viewer.

 

Newspapers and news websites provide the important news of the day, albeit in different ways. The NYT top story, “De Blasio Plans Minimum Wage and City ID Cards,” demonstrates the newspaper’s commitment to local news with proximity value. The WSJ, on the other hand, pushed “Boehner Sets Vote on Debt Limit Without Conditions” — a national politics and important story — to the top of its site. While both stories are impactful, timely and important, they highlight a nuanced difference in local versus national loyalty. Beyond the top story, both organizations continue the trend of important stories with coverage of Obamacare delays and Janet Yellen’s new economic policy. This trend proves that the “gatekeepers” of both organizations clearly agree with John C. Merrill’s theory: “If the people … do not know about public affairs and government business, they surely cannot be good sovereigns … they must know” (Media Debates, 75). These news organizations diverge at further examination of bottom-fold stories and lower-priority coverage. NYT’s bottom-fold had three analytical stories about heroin addiction, the speed of publishing books and Israeli jobs while the WSJ provided shorter updates about the Olympics, the winter storm in the South and an Afghanistan exit plan. All stories still hold importance (although, one could argue that Olympics coverage is not essential news) but the news organization garners interest in differing ways. The NYT’s three stories attracted readers with its long-form, investigative tone while the WSJ’s three stories appealed to the nature of breaking news and timeliness. Despite these differences in length, analysis and timeliness, the editors of both news organizations want to provide the audience with important and impactful stories.

 

While those organizations had a clear emphasis on important stories, television news producers emphasize stories that combine attractive visuals and interesting aspects. While it is true that CBS picked an important event for its lead story (the Southern storm), the story’s visual appeal elevated its position in the program over more the stories that the WSJ and NYT showcased. Some of the WSJ and NYT stories did find their way into the CBS broadcast — such as the debt ceiling increase, Yellen’s announcement and the stock market — but they were only quick anchor scripts, not fleshed out reporter segments. The “gatekeepers” at CBS chose to spend time on stories that either had awesome graphic components or a high level of interesting drama: an Italian mafia ring hiding drugs in pineapples, a Floridian white man killing a black boy who was playing loud music and the French president’s love affair changing the dynamics of Obama’s state dinner. CBS, compared to NYT and WSJ, focused less on hard news (albeit the storm was an important story) and more on singularity. This phenomenon may be because “America’s journalistic leaders [have] been transformed into businesspeople,” according to Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel (Elements, 52). In other words, CBS producers may be acting more like businesspeople looking for a surge in ratings rather than a well-informed public. News consumers are drawn to interesting television shows and perhaps are as much to blame. Whatever the case, it is clear that television producers have a very different definition of “newsworthy” than newspaper or news website editors.

 

A look at three different platforms of three different media outlets conveys the way audience expectations and desires completely alter editorial decisions. NYT’s dedication to analytical, important stories and WSJ’s emphasis on timely, important posts highlight newspapers’ and news websites ‘ commitment to service journalism. On the other hand, CBS’s focus on visually appealing, interesting segments showcases television journalism’s business-minded editorial decisions. If consumer desires are driving these discrepancies in editorial decisions, perhaps it is time for the American public to hold their news organizations accountable to create a well-informed public.