The definition of ‘news’ varies from person to person. To me, news is my breakfast companion; the Sydney Morning Herald a perfect accompaniment to a bowl of cornflakes for a media student to start the day, intent on feeling informed on life outside the microcosmic bubble of university life.
While stories relating to politics and world crises seem almost obligatory brain food for a global citizen, it is the small, quirky reports that deliver the daily dose of the weird, whacky and wonderful by which I am most often engrossed.
My personal favourite remains to this day a small article within the world section of the SMH titled “France’s ship of the dessert ends up a savoury treat for oblivious family”. The story goes as follows. After receiving a baby camel from grateful Malian authorities following the successful military intervention to drive rebel back forces back, French Prime Minister Francois Hollande entrusted the animal to the care of a family near Timbuktu when it was deemed the creature was not suited to the Parisian way of life. In an unfortunate incident of cross-culture misinterpretation regarding the ‘custody arrangement’, the camel was slaughtered by the family and feasted upon after being, according to local reports, “fashioned into a tasty tagine”.
Whilst the absurdity of the story had me in stitches, the article provided an amazing insight into modern news values and features.
New journalism is often described as a genre of writing that “falls between the traditional categories of fiction and journalism”. News cannot be defined as the straight edged truth as much as a series of standardised choices made by a news organisation in order to meet certain agendas. Amongst the key features of any ‘news’ is ‘narrativisation’, the process of turning a report into a story that can captivate an audience. Not only did the ‘tale of the tasty tagine’ perfectly encapsulate this notion, but the decision to include it in the paper in the first place reveals the hidden intricacies of editing. The story was situated directly underneath a large article concerning North Korea’s potential to test another nuclear warhead. Considering the meticulous placement of every item within any publication, does this pairing represent a deliberate editorial attempt by Fairfax to relieve a grave situation by placing such a light hearted story next door?
While news publications may differ in content, they remain remarkably similar in structure. Such deliberate editorial choices are just another part of the ‘production’ of news, made in an attempt to attract the largest audience and to generate the highest revenue. Regardless of motive, a good news story is one that engages a reader….and perhaps tickles your tastebuds at the same time.
Picture sourced from http://mbourbaki.blogspot.com.au/2010/11/artwriter-new-associate-of-art-market.html