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greg dahlen

Alumnus, academy of achievement


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what makes a story go national, or international?

Certain incidents and events become known across a nation where many or most people are aware of them, thinking, talking and feeling about them. Here in the U.S. I can think recently of the trial of George Zimmerman who killed Trayvon Martin as one such story, and Miley Cyrus's appearance at the VMA awards where she "twerked" vigorously as another. One international story is the problems of Greece, and I imagine Barack Obama's election made some waves in other countries (did it?) What is it that makes certain stories get many people's attention and awareness? Is it that there's a lot of emotion in the events involved? Is it that something in the story impinges on many other people's lives, and how does that work? Perhaps there are different factors for why different stories become prominent?

For those in other than the U.S., what stories have gone national in your country?


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    Dec 22 2013: our mainstream news media in New Zealand is absolute rubbish - low brow, sensationalist pap. also, very obviously politically biased.

    mostly, we get car-crashes, sensationalised stories (rape culture in NZ is the latest) or sleaze from overseas - the President Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal got huge coverage here for some reason.

    generally, i avoid the 6 o'clock news and newspapers.
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      Dec 22 2013: Scott, I can't tell from surfing the net in what form rape culture stories make their way into the mainstream media. Rape culture might include a big emphasis on pornography, but I don't think a mainstream newspaper is publishing pornography, so....?
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        Dec 23 2013: there was a recent news story about a group of young men who allegedly preyed on young girls and boasted about it on social networks. particularly abhorrent and so, of course, it was drawn out for several days as a headlining story - the term "rape culture" was coined and the question was sanctimoniously asked by our truth-uncovering* journalists (* = the presence of sarcasm) - is there a rape culture in new zealand?

        i would add that if these sorts of media-coined phrases exist anywhere, it is within the media rather than society in general.
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          Dec 24 2013: Well, in your mind what should they do differently, Scott? Not cover the story at all? Only cover it locally where it happened? Only cover it very briefly? I can see some value in the story in that it warns girls about rape, and stimulates some soul-searching among men and warns them not to rape when they see the punishment the perpetrators suffer.

          I do wonder if there are multiple stories of young men raping, but only some stories go national. I will have to look into that. If there are multiple incidents but only a few go national, I wonder what is different about the stories that go national?

          It looks like rape culture the term was coined in the 1970's: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_culture
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        Dec 27 2013: there's no difference between news programming and soap operas in that they are both just forms of entertainment.

        what needs to change is for the public to be more informed about the way mainstream news media operate - selected stories rathe than "news", bias, the role advertising dollars play, and how much depends on image and presentation rather than substance and intelligent journalism.

        if i had my way, there would be no presenters, just scrolling updates and even those would have to be taken with a grain of salt.

        mainstream news definitely only selects the juiciest stories. i would say that what makes a story go national is that the program director decides that it will go national - and i assume that is based on how many viewers it will attract which in turn, i guess, is based on how many people it will "outrage".

        i'm willing to bet the term rape culture wasn't coined by a reporter but i can imagine how a t-shirt style phrase like that was perfect for the news. it's like a lot of those kinds of ultimately generic and hollow phrases like "fake it til you make it" and "fail to succeed". they sound catchy - sometimes they rhyme or even make use of alliteration - but ultimately, they dumb down the issue behind the slogan by over-simplifying and shooting for a headline-style 'grabber'..
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          Dec 28 2013: so would you have covered the story about the young men who abused women (did they rape them?) and then talked about it on social media? It seems like a story of reasonable significance, doesn't it, it certainly affected the people involved.

          Scott, you say news is no different from entertainment, but I would think it is different because it involves real events, not fiction. I could think people turn on the news to be engaged and stimulated, but not in the way entertainment does that. I certainly feel different when I see a real car crash versus one in a fiction movie.

          Not even sure it's so bad to print juicy stories. Don't they have juice because they involve intense feelings, what is wrong with the news consumer wanting the stimulation of intense feeling?
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      Dec 29 2013: Nothing different in my country as well ..... :(
      As a kid learnt from my father to start the day with newspaper , for many years seldom I do. Even of I want to look into the sports section more news are there which player slept with whom or how rowdy some player in the bar then the sports news itself :(
      Reading most posts here and from experience it seems "negative stories" sales more so that's what media is doing ..... Wondered many times as reader can we avoid responsibility ?

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