American journalism and the decline in event-centered reporting



The definition of news has changed in the 20th century. Content analysis of the traditional five Ws in three American newspapers found that stories grew longer, included more analysis, expanded from specific locations to broader regions, placed more emphasis on time frames other than the present, and named fewer individuals and more groups, officials, and outside sources. These trends affected each newspaper's coverage of three topics: crimes, accidents, and employment. Thus the basic recipe for news - the report of events new to the bearer - has acquired a third ingredient: For a story to qualify as news, journalists now supply a context of social problems, interpretations, and themes. This trend springs from the workings of the news market and the culture of journalism.