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Separation of News and Comments

Donald L. Shaw and Thomas C. Terry


News and comment cannot coexist independently in a social system. Factual news and comment become twisted together like two strands of a rope. What is →  news ? What is →  commentary ? When we think of news, we often think of facts that refer to specific objects or events in the world. By contrast, commentary usually refers to a larger context. Commentary frames news (→  Framing of the News ). News and commentary are constructed of words, pictures, sounds, or other symbols of social →  meaning , but the communicator's intent is different in each case (→  Constructivism ). News reports aim to reconstruct events, to create pictures in the minds of audiences. Commentary aims to shape how audiences construct these events. Commentary has intent. While news media usually are careful to separate news from commentary, audiences naturally blend them together. We can obtain a picture of events from news stories alone, as all news stories contain some evaluative descriptions beyond the facts, and one can learn events from commentaries alone, and still will learn some facts. The separation of news from comment can be studied in all communication systems – in some there is more separation at times than in others, more in some periods of history, less in others (societies under stress) – but news and comment cannot be easily separated and must be evaluated in terms of how they interact within ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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