Summing Up Lesson 9

This lesson was all about deconstructing the news -- basically putting together the skills that you've learned in the previous lessons and applying them to the real-time analysis of news stories. Here are some of the points covered:


  • The process of deconstruction is broken down into 8 points:
    • Summarize the main points of the story, do the headline and lede support the main point(s) of the story?

    • Assess the evidence supporting the main points of the story. Is Direct? Arm’s-Length? How close did the reporter come to “opening the freezer”?

    • Assess the reliability of the sources using IMVAIN

    • Assess your own inherent bias to what or who might be reported on in the story. Are you reacting to them emotionally, or analyzing them intellectually?

    • Assess the transparency level of the reporter. How does the reporter know what is being reported?

    • Assess whether or not the story has been placed in context of the issue at large.

    • Assess whether or not all of the key questions are answered. (Who, What, When, Where, How, Why?) Also assess what’s been left out of the story.

    • Assess the balance of the story. While not every story needs to be balanced, the reader should always ask themselves “Is it fair to the evidence and to key stakeholders?”

    • And as always, the reader should ask  “What can I DO with this information? Is it actionable?”

  • Context around a story adds a set of facts, such as history, comparison to similar events, connections between players and outside parties, and responsible predictions of what may come next after a given event, and can offer more clarity to the news consumer. 
  • Transparency adds a layer of understanding to the news consumer to as how the reporter got their information, what they currently know, and what they currently do not know, which helps to add greater clarity to a news story. 

TV news

  • While TV news garners a large audience, it is very time constrained and picture driven, which leads to stories that either need a lot of explanation being scantily reported, or those without pictures not being reported on at all. 
  • Cable news has led to a 24/7 cycle of news which allows for coverage of stories requiring lots of time, and the ability to quickly jump upon "breaking news". However, it can often emphasize sensational over significant pieces and at times, will reliy heavily on controversy and talk which is inexpensive to produce and pulls in more viewers.

  • TV News is powerful in that it provides video, which is a strong verification tool. 

  • To get the most from TV news, you should be an active, not passive viewer, supplement TV news with web, radio and print news, and understand TV’s limitations, while relying on its strengths.

  • Lastly, when evaluating TV news, think about these questions, which are unique to TV News : 

    • Are you being manipulated by video, audio or production techniques?

    • Skilled video editors say “Ears don’t blink” and they use sound to tell their story as much as the visuals.

    • Pay attention to sound, particularly music. How does it change your perception of the story? Is it natural to the scene or has anything been added, especially music.

    • If this isn’t a story best-suited to TV, should you look for more reporting online?