So what Critera makes a news item Important ?


Originally, in group news fronts we took a news story to be important if it Google News listed a lot of stories in the same cluster or on the same topic.  See also 3413 which spawned this one.
It went something like this:
This could lend to automation of the news-weather operation like:
[count: googlenews xxxxxx] = 550  (note this was just a wish)
where 1-500 = rain
    501-1000 = sleet
   1001-1500 = topical depression
   1501-2500 = cat-1 tornado or hurricane
   3000-4000 = cat-2
   4500-5000 = cat-3 to cat-5 depending on the length & duration of the stories
      10,000+  = massive protests & insurrections or whatever

When I used the weather metaphor my intent was to chronicle those stories that had captured the media's attention, that everyone was talking about on the talking head shows - the leads. Even the weatherbabes don't talk about every minor blip on the doppler radar.

We could also add to the mix the a Google's blog search - here's one that probably is the 's favorite - fire Rumsfeld which has 13,103 items as opposed to the 484,000 **(yep!) items you can find in [search: google fire Rumsfeld].  Somehow I doubt that count - is there really that many online web pages devoted to this topic? Does Google include blogs in the general search?  BTW, there are only 1,300 in the general Google news search. A Yahoo search with this same keywords give us only 884 items of both blogs & news.

In summary it is not scientific although I suppose there are google media watchdogs on the left & the right that make a living on it. There is something in the news that is like the weather that spins all day, sometimes for several, that takes on a life of it's own. This is what I will continue to try to get a handle on in group news fronts. Really, all I have to do is turn on the cable news & nightly news casts for a few minutes & the main stories just pop out!

** leaving out the quotes (a bad search) we get > 12 million - obviously being Defense Secretary gives him a lot of press & non news web visibility.
Comments & suggestions are very welcome!

Tags

  1. news
  2. news importance
  3. news cycle
  4. ajr
  5. media watch

Comments


Mark de LA says
Another way is to subscribe to a feed on that item (I did it for the Dubai ports story & still get one or two a day) and do a subtotal for each day or other increment of time. The story does diverge after a while. How they pick what goes into that feed I do not know.

Seth says
M 2006-04-28 07:38:50 3420
Another way is to subscribe to a feed on that item (I did it for the Dubai ports story & still get one or two a day) and do a subtotal for each day or other increment of time. The story does diverge after a while. How they pick what goes into that feed I do not know.
Subscribing to the feed of a cluster won't get what me thinks you want.  Take for example, the top story in world news.  The feed to that cluster is here.  As long as google determines that this reuters story is the best sample story in this cluster, that feed will show you the a max of 30 other related stories.  When the google process chooses another "best sample story" for the cluster, then me thinks that feed will stop changeing.  Track the link element on the channel ... i may be wrong.

Mark de LA says
M 2006-04-28 07:32:04 3420
Well using some other tool can just pick it off the Google news website. Now as to the identity of the news item itself as the story morphs - that is AI.
Here is a picture that may or not capture some ideas about the "news cycle" - it came from flickr of "news cycle": - you have to magnify it to really get the point!




Mark de LA says
Here's another thought on what makes a story important. The subject or storyline makes it important. There is a survival meme that makes most people want to be aware of a particular story beneath the hook in the headline. We could classify them as follows: (in no particular order)
  • wars & rumors of wars
  • murders, rapes & accidents - the police blotter
  • employment-unemployment
  • weather phenomena - hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves, cold
  • environment -
  • scandals
  • politics - pros & cons on the local, state & national stage
  • taxes
  • people - celebrities, politicians
  • other disasters - oil spills, nuclear leaks & meltdowns, train wrecks & airplane crashes
  • economic - stock market, cost of living, metrics of all kinds
  • national security, immigration,
  • high-low profile legal cases related to the police blotter
  • sports
  • medical discoveries beneficial or harmful
  • corporate malfeasance
  • money - governmental spending (also see taxes)
  • etc... (I'm sure I've missed quite a few)


Mark de LA says
  • the supreme court, congress, executive administration ...



Mark de LA says
Other media &journalistic watch websites are here.


Mark de LA says
Ask.com has 6,230 and  A9.com has 20,128. on the "fire Rumsfeld" theme.


Seth says
If you are talking about automated processess, i would say that google news itself does just about the best job of tracking the importance of news stories from the media.  And when it comes to politics memeorandum does a pretty good job of tracking those stories from the blogosphere.  This is just my general impression without doing an exhaustive search of these web services.  One, of course, could just turn on the TV set and sample a couple of channels and come away with a  pretty good subjective impression of what "the important" stories were in broadcast TV.

What i was dealing with in my comments on 3413 was the sticky problem of identity.  Since nowhere on the web are these news fronts named, issued a URL, or even a authoritive tag; there is no way to get serious about tracking them as they change. Even if we limit ourselves to google news, there is no identifying marker for the clusters of stories that are projected.  One could, of course, watch  Google news each moment of the day, naming the cluster when it appears, and track it as it changes keeping a constant name affixed to the cluster.  But i doubt that anyone will put that kind of attention into this.   Nor if they did would it automatically corrolate with the TV stories of such ... though with sufficient attention one could do a pretty good job of it.   Another approach, if one took this seriously, would be to go out on the net in several forums that would be appropriate and get google and other media to come up with an agreed method of identifying these kinds of clusters.   None of this, of course, will happen.  I note it here just because i am facinated by such processess of identity. 

In any case, i said all of that to say to M ... sorry ... i don't know how to grant your wish for a wiki reference to a googlenews count.


Seth says
So what Critera makes a news item Important ?
Good question.  Obviously it is a subjective criteria ... what is important to you will not be important to me.  I started a tag room underreported news to track those events which i feel are not given enough importance in the MSM.

Mark de LA says
Important in the sense I was speaking can be defined as important enough to be published.  Ultimately I would like news to published in a database & sought after rather than pushed to the media outlets through hyped headlines & political agendas.

Mark de LA says
seth 2007-04-14 12:16:51 3420
M 2007-04-14 12:08:24 3420
Important in the sense I was speaking can be defined as important enough to be published. 
Importance is always a subjective evaluation.
Well, if you set objective criteria then importance is NOT subjective.

Seth says
M 2007-04-14 13:33:39 3420
seth 2007-04-14 12:16:51 3420
M 2007-04-14 12:08:24 3420
Important in the sense I was speaking can be defined as important enough to be published. 
Importance is always a subjective evaluation.
Well, if you set objective criteria then importance is NOT subjective.
Well yes ... but what objective criters have you set?

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