Abducted by Aliens

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From Crime Reporting Tips:

Always try to tell a crime story in human terms. Do not concentrate all the time on the police or the criminals. Look at what has happened to the victim. Your readers or listeners are more likely to be victims of crime than they are to be either police officers or criminals.”

I had never really thought about this before but it is true.  Usually, the focus is on the victim of the crime.  As we talked about in class and online, it’s all about the emotions.  If someone can report that the victim cried as they talked about their house being burned to the ground, it is more newsworthy.  The newspaper would mention that the cause of the fire was arson and someone has been taken into custody by a police officer, but it is doubtful that either the policeman or suspected arsonist would be focused on.  The importance lies in relatability.  It seems that the more relatable a story is, the more newsworthy it is.  Of course, something big has to happen.  Obviously, “Angela brushes her teeth” isn’t news.  But most people can relate to the loss of a loved one.

I do recognize that the opposite is also true.  Sometimes the completely unrelatable makes the news as well.  If say an alien spaceship came to Louisville, Kentucky and abducted 30 farmers on one night, I may read it just because it’s completely bizarre.  I can’t relate to being abducted by aliens but it sure makes for an interesting story.

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3 Comments

Derek Tickle said:

I have not really thought about this, but you made me think of something that I had never done before. (This will be my reflection). I just read on April Minderd's blog entry, "Questions," about what your talking about. (http://blogs.setonhill.edu/AprilMinerd/2009/09/questions.html).

When a news article states a really long list of charges for the victim, then people begin to get confused. Not everyone knows criminal law or is a police officer. A death of someone is a terrible event for anyone in the world, but the way an article is written is going to make a family feel better or worse. Once again, you're right - we need to relate to the families and feel empathy/sympathy for people.

Greta Carroll said:

Telling any story in human terms is essential in creating a connection between the audience and the events of the article. For example, most of the bus plunge stories we read were devoid of emotion. However, the one article that I read focused on one specific person who died in the plunge and it made the story quite touching. They even got quotes from family members. Here’s the link if you want to check it out: http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,25992635-3102,00.html

However, I think your point about how unusual and unrelatable news can also be newsworthy and interesting to the reader is also a good one. Both cases are true in their own ways. However, I must disagree on one thing you said, I think that “Angela brushes her teeth” is definitely news, I’d want to read an article about that ;-)

Josie Rush said:

Congratulations on your sister getting married.
I think the inability to focus on the victims in a bus plunge story is a reason so many of our classmates were so bothered by them. It's almost always impossible to give touching details about each victim; the reporter has to focus on the rigid facts. Greta gave a good example of an exception to that rule, and I'm sure fewer ppl would have trouble with that particular article.

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Josie Rush on Abducted by Aliens: Congratulations on your sister
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