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Contemporary Documentary

vikiwalden | Wednesday May 13, 2009

Categories: Other Topics, Documentaries, Contemporary

Why is Contemporary Documentary so popular?

To think about what makes it so popular I think it is important to look at the “news values” that journalists deem “newsworthy” articles to have. In 1965 In 1965, Galtung and Ruge came up with a list of “values” that they felt were necessary for an article or story to be worthy of reportage space.


Threshold: A big story is one that has an extreme effect on a large number of people. Where the immediate effect of an event is more subtle, the threshold may be determined by the amount of money involved.

Frequency: Events that occur suddenly and fit well with the news organization’s schedule are more likely to be reported than those that occur gradually or at inconvenient times of day or night. Long-term trends are not likely to receive much coverage.

Negativity: Bad news is more exciting than good news. Bad news receives more attention because it shocks us and creates discussion.

Unexpectedness: If an event is out of the ordinary it will have a greater effect than something that is an everyday occurrence.

Unambiguity: Events whose implications are clear make for better copy than those that are open to more than one interpretation, or where any understanding of the implications depends on first understanding the complex background in which the events take place.

Audience Identification

Personalisation: Events that can be portrayed as the actions of individuals will be more attractive than one in which there is no such “human interest.”

Meaningfulness: This relates to the sense of identification the audience has with the topic. “Cultural proximity” is a factor here—stories concerned with people who speak the same language, look the same, and share the preoccupations as the audience receive more coverage than those concerned with people who speak different languages, look different and have different preoccupations.

Elite nations: Stories concerned with global powers receive more...

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