What makes news?

As I tap away this evening, I can sit relaxed, having read the lead story from the ABC News website and knowing that it represents the most serious and pressing concern hanging over the heads of the folks in the wide-brown-land:

New Olympic hopes for Pittman

World 400 metres hurdles champion, Jana Pittman, is back on track to go to Athens for the Olympic Games.

The athlete has undergone surgery at London's Wellington Hospital.

Oh goody. What a relief. Snore.

Good luck to Jana, and no disrespect to her in doing her best in Athens next week (if she ever gets there), but it is farcical and just a little pathetic that this is worthy of lead-story status. Like most of the sports stories that make it beyond the back page, it is an insignificant and largely irrelevant story, except for the individual involved, of course. It has no greater meaning, no wide implications, no depth, no value beyond its face value. It is not the sort of thing that should be confused with legitimate 'newsworthy' news.

Sport in the news is brain-candy, which should be used sparingly and only as a way to get people to take in politics, war and peace, the intellectual broccoli and brussel sprouts of news, so to speak. The traditional structure of news values sport in about the right quantity - toward the end, with a heavy focus on visuals, and some attempt to create a soap-opera style narrative to put disparate events in context. The confusion of this sporting soap opera with legitimate news is a bad trend, especially if it has infected your ABC.

Jana: Not NewsA more newsworthy Jana.

(If you're in the mood - or bored - why not play a bit of ABC news-lotto and see what's made the top story at www.abc.net.au/news/)


Anonymous said…
Well the current headline story on the abc website involves FTA, but I see your point.

For many of us (including me), sports news doesn't rate as important as most other things.

I notice the Herald Sun (www.heraldsun.news.com.au) also has a Jana story as the flavour of the minute (it even has the main-page picture).

I think you have to expect that from a web news service - they often highlight the most recent news, not necessarily the most important news.

This reminds me of current affairs programming on commercial tv lately. Today Tonight is often just a prime time infomercial and ACA is sometimes not much better. The weekly run-down on the latest fad diet doesn't seem that newsworthy to me.

I guess the lesson is that you watch news sources that bring you the news you want to hear, and skip the others.


P.S. Andrew's news of the minute: my stapler just ran out of staples. Doh!

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