What’s (the) News? Values, Viruses and Vectors of Newsworthiness

Country: Belgium

City: Brussels

Abstr. due: 30.06.2018

Dates: 13.12.18 — 14.12.18

Area Of Sciences: Humanities; Sociology;

Organizing comittee e-mail: whatnews@vub.be.

Organizers: Department of Applied Linguistics / Faculty of Arts & Philosophy Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)


We invite participants to engage in a critical discussion of newsworthiness. Possible questions which can be addressed are: are there topics which are newsworthy by nature, which elements arouse most interest in human psyche, which stories and/or sources do journalists and their audience find worth sharing, how is news created linguistically, how do news values vary between media types and news beats, how can journalists or news workers construct issues or events as interesting, what is the relation between newsworthiness and publishing platforms.

Call for Papers:

The entanglement of ‘news’, understood as recent and current public information, and the development of journalism (as a profession), renders the question what ‘is’ or ‘becomes’ news highly relevant for the study of journalism. (Negative) events having to do with conflict, elites or change in the daily lives or the immediate environment of the audience are likely to become news. Especially if they have some magnitude and if they are recent, unexpected and/or if they can be linked to individual people.

The digital era and the advent of social media more specifically have altered vectors – understood both as agents and carriers – of newsworthiness significantly. Social media allow to register which stories are clicked, liked or shared most and thus to examine which topics and approaches raise the highest interest of the audience. Journalists are expected to develop a feeling for ‘shareability’ and to produce texts and visuals which will ‘go viral’. The focus in the selection process seems to have shifted ever more from what journalists deemed fit to publish towards what the audience is expected to appreciate most. Moreover, as clicks, likes and shares are monitored automatically, news stories which receive the most attention of readers are moved up higher in the news flow, so that they are picked up even more often.

However, it is still the journalist (or is it the ‘news worker’) who decides what shape the story will take and which aspects will be accentuated. The topic of news values can therefore also be approached from a linguistic/discursive side. The main question then is how news workers construct an event as interesting or relevant, i.e. how they use language to make certain events newsworthy, especially on the internet media platforms.

We welcome submissions from all relevant disciplinary backgrounds approaching topics including but certainly not limited to:

- News values in the selection of news
- News values in the production of news
- The linguistic or multimodal construction of an event as newsworthy
- The relation between publishing platforms and newsworthiness
- What makes news ‘go viral’
- Algorithms and automation in the presentation of news
- Methodological approaches to the study of newsworthiness
- We welcome both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, and analyses at process, product/text, and/or audience level.

Conference Web-Site: http://www.vub.ac.be/en/events/2018/whatnews

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