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ARTICLE: Transforming source text into news text

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Different newspapers can create vastly different news from the same source material, write Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt and Christian Baden, both of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The authors analysed the ways 12 newspapers (three Israeli, three Palestinian, and two from the US, UK, and Germany each) handled 22 different sources in covering the events that sparked the 2014 Gaza war.

The authors identified five different types of transformations journalists may deploy: evaluative, political, cultural, emotive, and professional. For example, an evaluative transformation presents the source through its impact, asking “How relevant and remarkable is [the source’s message]?”

Different types of journalism use the transformations in different proportions. In total, the authors identify five subtypes of journalism: measured, accentuated, analytic, directed, and immersed journalism. Of these, the authors consider “measured” as the journalistic ideal, as it employs all transformations in moderation.

For example, what the authors call “immersive journalism” is highly interested in the relevance of the source’s message to “us” (i.e. “cultural transformation”) and in the ways the readers should feel about it (i.e. “emotive transformation”). Consequently, this type of journalism presents few suggestions for a course of action (i.e. “political transformation”) or signs of adherence to journalistic standards (i.e. “professional transformation”).

The article “Journalistic transformation” was published by the journal Journalism. It is available online (abstract free).

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