Monday, September 16, 2013

Research report_Gans_Salileng

Value in the News
By: Sam Salileng

We live in a world dominated by the media. At the click of a button, we are instantly informed about events miles and miles away. Despite the news being readily accessible, information can be biased and slanted in a certain direction. In the chapter “Value in the News,” of his book Deciding What’s News: A Study of CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, Newsweek and Time, Herbert J. Gans relates how enduring values in the news, social order, national leadership and ideology can sway journalists on what information or story they are going to release and how they present it. Why does Gans heavily take the stance that many perspectives need to be viewed in media and that the social hierarchy of presenting news needs to change? A look into his past and the context in which it was written can provide answers.
Gans emigrated from Germany to avoid Nazism in 1940 and experienced firsthand in Germany how a biased media can heavily influence a country.  From this, Gans developed a populist view on the media with the voices of the people needing to be heard opposed to the voice of one which would stand as a representation for all. The bond between Gans and the lower-class continued to grow as his time in America continued. He became a strong voice against urban renewal after working as a planner, arguing that some of these new developments were still similar to slums but in subtler ways. Being a sociologist from the University of Chicago, the credibility of his work was never questioned with Gans accumulating information through an empirical process from many different sources.
           It is very important to note that his work was written on the heels of the Watergate scandal and the Vietnam War. During this time, journalists fought to uncover the truth. If some believed the immorality of the upper-class would cause a ripple effect of immorality through the social ladder, then more than one group should have been represented reflecting proper morals instead of just one individual such as the president. Watergate and the Vietnam War provided a perfect example of the influence the social elite had in the media. Cover-ups, threats and the omission of proper information on “un-American” events such as the My Lai Massacre gave situations in which Gans could play upon. His work, directed at journalists, urged them to strive for the truth derived from and presented to America as whole and not a particular group.
         How does this help us today? Gans’ piece is considered gold for journalism and mass media majors. The fact that it was published in 1979 and is still in school curriculums as a representation of proper journalism today speaks to the legitimacy of the text. I believe it is an excellent starting point about how the media should be and how journalists should approach writing. However, readers should be aware of the time it was published and see how the concepts fit in today’s society. Some ideals, like the stance on technology, have certainly changed with current generations embracing technological advancement. With issues arising around the globe daily, the public deserves to know exactly what is going on through truthful and insightful journalism.

Gans, H.J. (1979). Values in the News. In Deciding What’s News: A Study of CBS Evening News, NBC   Nightly News, Newsweek, and Time, pp. 39-72
"Herbert Gans, Deciding What's News: A Study of CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, Newsweek and Time." Portfolio at NYU. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2013. <>.
"Herbert J. Gans." American Sociological Association. American Sociological Association, n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2013. <>.

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