Article format crams the world into a pre-shaped mould.
A news article is the most common and standardised of all journalistic story concepts. It includes the smallest amount of the writer’s own opinions or comments, or at least that is how it ideally should be. A news article also, however, is always written by someone.
Many questions of power and responsibility are related to news production, as the format is prone to presenting simplified information with often limited space given to explaining the backgrounds of the news event. Thus, presenting the world as news creates simplified, negative and conflict-centred knowledge, especially about geographically remote locations.
The format is prone to presenting simplified information with often limited space given to explaining the backgrounds of the news event.
For example, the news coverage of Western world -based international news agencies on Africa becomes the topic of discussion every now and then because of the one-dimensional picture of famine, poverty and war that it paints of the continent. The picture is increasingly incorrect as, in 2019, four of the world’s five fastest growing economies are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The second form of power is the storification of journalism. This refers to the broad phenomenon of portraying things and events as stories in journalism, especially in feature articles and in magazines. This is often justified as journalism, but also aims to entertain and to commit the audiences as readers of the journal. That’s why journalists try to portray things and phenomena in such a form that the readers and viewers become hooked.
Despite this, when information is formatted into a story, journalism sometimes creates fictional causalities and makes people look good or bad, heroes or villains. Additionally, for example magazines have a tendency to portray the lives of people they interview in an unreasonably interesting and favourable fashion. Everyone knows the story format: “she overcame her difficulties with her political career”, “he lived through a hard divorce”.
When information is formatted into a story, journalism sometimes creates fictional causalities and makes people look good or bad, heroes or villains.
All in all, when journalistic stories are produced and consumed, it is good to keep in mind that reality is rarely a black-and-white heroic tale that advances smoothly and with a purpose.
Lies, damn lies and statistics; Discrimination, stereotyping and picking experts
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This article was updated on January 9th 2020.