CMU 200 Winter 2000


Questions to consider while going over the Week 7 readings on defining what's news. No papers are due on the readings, but points may be discussed in sections. These questions may also help you prepare for the exams.


Daniel C. Hallin, "Sound Bite News"

* In the coverage of political news, how has the role of reporters changed and how is that

reflected in the length of sound bites today?


* In what ways have "packaging" and "mediated" news affected the way political

campaigns are reported on TV?


* Besides technology, what other factors contribute to change in the coverage of



Ken Auletta, "Three Blind Mice"

* When the author wrote that "a line had been crossed," what did he mean by this? And

did this affect the barrier between news and entertainment?


* Do viewers play a role in the kind of news we see today?


* Who do the three blind mice of the title refer to?


* With increasing market segmentation, how do advertisers now view TV programming?


W. Lance Bennett, "Cracking the News Code"

* In what ways are news accounts "symbolic representations?"


* How does Bennett square his notion that news is "highly patterned" with his assertion

that it is also "fragmented and highly dramatized?"

(More on back)

* Explain what he means by "indexing?"


* Do indexing and the "Golden Triangle" shape the way news is presented to us?


* Does Bennett's notion of "infotainment" compare with Auletta's claim of a barrier

between news and entertainment?


* Is Bennett's overall tone in favor of the new "information ecosystem," or against it?


* Why does Bennett keep referring to an "information ecosystem" and an "ecology of

political information?"


* Is today's press partisan, watchdog, or passive?


Susan Nall Bales, "Talking Back, Ernie Pyle Style"

* What "new style of journalism" is the author discussing, and how does it fit into a

"progressive" view of public journalism?


* In which era did Ernie Pyle write, and can his style really be replicated today?


* What forces would oppose/help his style today?


* What actual steps does the author propose to revitalize public journalism?


Howard Kurtz, "Ho Hum, 'Historic' Event"

* If reporters can interrupt news and provide instant commentary above breaking stories,

how is the value of news affected?


* Was there much difference in the coverage of the impeachment hearings between the old

news networks like CBS and the new cable-based ones like MSNBC?


* Can news be objective if journalists provide their own interpretation of events?