Study Questions

1. How have news values changed over the last 50 years? Which of the news values identified in this chapter would you say have become most prominent recently? What do these variations tell us about the changing nature of society?

2. As the discussion of Anders Breivik’s act of mass murder illustrated, news values, while broadly similar across “Western,” industrialized nations, do nonetheless differ in subtle ways, reflecting the particular socioeconomic, political, and cultural contours of any given country. Reflect on how news values might differ across cultural contexts and, particularly, how news values in the U.S. differ from those elsewhere in the world.

3. This chapter has focused mainly on the news values used to set the national news agenda.

What news values are most evident in crime reports in your local newspaper or on your local radio or television news program? How do they differ from those in the national and international media?

4. Using international news services accessed via “new” media technologies, conduct a content analysis of the major crime news stories covered and draw up a list of the news values prioritized.

5. “The availability of an image may determine whether or not a story is run. The availability of the right image can help elevate a crime victim or offender to iconic status” (Greer, 2009, p. 227). What examples can you think of (or find) that bear out this statement?

6. Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election has been dogged by claims that fake news stories—including that Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS and that the pope had endorsed Trump—altered the outcome. A Stanford University study, however, suggests that such reports were important but not dominant (Allcott & Gentzkow, 2017). Fake news aside, what reasons would you pinpoint as being decisive factors in the mediatized versions of Trump and Clinton that voters received? How would the theoretical perspectives outlined in Chapter 1 explain Trump’s victory?