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[ecrea] CFP - What’s (the) News? Values, Viruses and Vectors of Newsworthiness
Fri Jun 01 13:08:13 GMT 2018
REMINDER: CALL FOR PAPERS: What’s (the) News? Values, Viruses and
Vectors of Newsworthiness
13-14 December 2018
Third biennial conference of the Brussels Institute for Journalism
Department of Applied Linguistics / Faculty of Arts and Philosophy
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Belgium
Deadline for proposals: 30 JUNE 2018
Contact: (whatnews /at/ vub.be) <mailto:(whatnews /at/ vub.be)>
Monika BEDNAREK (University of Sydney, Australia)
Tony HARCUP (University of Sheffield, UK)
Steered by what Kovach & Rosenstiel describe as our ‘awareness
instinct’, exchanging ‘news’ fulfills basic human needs for information,
orientation, and connection. The entanglement of ‘news’, understood as
recent and current public information, and the development of journalism
(as a profession), renders the question what ‘is’ or ‘becomes’ news
highly relevant for the study of journalism. One particularly
influential approach to ‘newsworthiness’ in journalism studies emerged
from Galtung and Ruge’s 1965 seminal study on ‘news values’ in (foreign)
news reporting. The core question of this study was which criteria
journalists apply in the news selection process. The authors contend
that (negative) events having to do with conflict, elites or change in
the daily lives or the immediate environment of the audience are likely
to become news. Especially if they have some magnitude and if they are
recent, unexpected and/or if they can be linked to individual people.
Since then, numerous scholars taking sociological or critical cultural
approaches to ‘news values’, and selection and journalistic routines in
general, have revisited their ideas, and refined and complemented them.
These insights have been applicable to a lesser or greater extent
throughout the whole history of journalism, yet, the digital era and the
advent of social media more specifically have altered vectors –
understood both as agents and carriers – of newsworthiness
significantly, reshaping how ‘news’ is conceived, the way it comes about
and is exchanged. Within a networked, globalized environment, the range
of sources that are available to journalists or that are able to trigger
‘news’ on a day-to-day basis has expanded considerably, while a plethora
of newcomers (e.g. citizen journalists, alternative, grassroots and
partisan media outlets) in or at the margins of the journalistic field
challenge traditional conceptions of ‘newsworthiness’, as well as the
relationship between ‘journalism’ and ‘news’ per se (e.g. in ‘slow
journalism’ and ‘constructive journalism’ movements). Even if the
position of these newcomers along traditional news media’s status as
primary definers of ‘the news’ may still be subject to debate, it is
hard to deny the impact of digitization and social media on contemporary
audiences’ daily ‘news diet’.
Amongst others, search engines, (automated) news aggregators, and social
media platforms, and their underlying algorithms, have become key to
understanding how news emerges and circulates nowadays. Social media
allow to register which stories are clicked, liked or shared most and
thus to examine which topics and approaches raise the highest interest
of the audience. Journalists are expected to develop a feeling for
‘shareability’ and to produce texts and visuals which will ‘go viral’.
The focus in the selection process seems to have shifted ever more from
what journalists deemed fit to publish towards what the audience is
expected to appreciate most. Moreover, as clicks, likes and shares are
monitored automatically, news stories which receive the most attention
of readers are moved up higher in the news flow, so that they are picked
up even more often. This presentation process often happens without
human intervention, thus leaving the selection entirely to the
appreciation of the audience. Furthermore, these developments have also
led to highly customized news packages – ‘me media’ – and the related
issues of the ‘filter bubble’ and ‘echo chamber’.
However, it is still the journalist (or is it the ‘news worker’) who
decides what shape the story will take and which aspects will be
accentuated. The topic of news values can therefore also be approached
from a linguistic/discursive side. The main question then is how news
workers construct an event as interesting or relevant, i.e. how they use
language to make certain events newsworthy, especially on the internet
media platforms. And taking into consideration the importance of visual
resources on these platforms, an analysis of verbal text will in many
cases have to be replaced by or complemented with a multimodal analysis.
We invite participants to engage in a critical discussion of
newsworthiness. Possible questions which can be addressed are: are there
topics which are newsworthy by nature, which elements arouse most
interest in human psyche, which stories and/or sources do journalists
and their audience find worth sharing, how do news values vary between
media types and news beats, how can journalists or news workers
construct issues or events as interesting, what is the relation between
newsworthiness and publishing platforms.
Bednarek, Monika & Helen Caple (2017). The Discourse of News Values: How
News Organizations Create 'Newsworthiness'. New York: Oxford University
Harcup, Tony & Deirdre O'Neill (2017). What is news? News values
revisited (again). Journalism Studies, 18 (12). pp. 1470-1488.
We welcome submissions from all relevant disciplinary backgrounds
approaching topics including but certainly not limited to:
· News values in the selection of news
· News values in the production of news
· The linguistic or multimodal construction of an event as
· The relation between publishing platforms and newsworthiness
· What makes news ‘go viral’
· Algorithms and automation in the presentation of news
· Methodological approaches to the study of newsworthiness
We welcome both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, and analyses
at process, product/text, and/or audience level.
Junior researchers are warmly invited to participate.
All papers will be published (after the authors’ consent) in the
electronic proceedings of the conference and we are planning to publish
a selection of the papers in a volume and/or a special issue. Special
issues on the conference themes of the 2014 and 2016 editions appeared
in Journalism: Theory, Practice, and Criticism ('Hybridity and the News'
(2017): http://journals.sagepub.com/toc/joua/18/1 and 'Constructive
Journalism: Concepts, Practices, and Discourses' (in press, available
online first: http://journals.sagepub.com/toc/joua/0/0), and
in Discourse, Context & Media (‘Post-truth in politics and activism in
journalism’ (in press, available online first:
The venue for the conference will be the Royal Belgian Institute of
Natural Sciences (https://www.naturalsciences.be/en) Vautierstraat/Rue
Vautier 29, 1000 Brussels, near the Brussels-Luxembourg station, a
lively neighbourhood with lots of hotels and restaurants.
Conference fee (including pre-conference reception, lunch, coffee):
€ 150 (regular participants), € 75 (PhD students).
Dinner will be organized on Friday 14 December and charged separately.
Please send a PROPOSAL of no more than 300 WORDS (excluding selected
references) together with your affiliation and a short biography (c. 100
words) to (whatnews /at/ vub.be) <mailto:(whatnews /at/ vub.be)> by 30 JUNE 2018.
Decisions will be announced by 15 August. Questions about any aspect of
the conference should be addressed to (whatnews /at/ vub.be)
<mailto:(whatnews /at/ vub.be)>.
For UPDATES on the practical organization, please CHECK our WEBSITE:
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