Fichamento: Making News (1978) — Capítulo 3

Esta é mais uma postagem da série de fichamentos/transcrições do livro Making News, de Gaye Tuchman. A primeira parte da série, bem como uma pequena contextualização do porquê a estou fazendo, você pode encontrar aqui. A numeração de páginas segue imediatamente cada um dos parágrafos; caso um parágrafo não a contenha, é porque a citação abarca também o parágrafo seguinte. Há uma pequena intervenção minha para marcar quando uma citação se prolonga por mais de uma página. Referências bibliográficas citadas pela autora estão ao final do texto, em formato ABNT. Boa leitura!


Referência Bibliográfica

TUCHMAN, Gaye. Making News: A Study in the Construction of Reality. Nova York, Londres: The Free Press, 1978.


Chapter 3: Time and Typifications

“As competent members of society, we all commonsensically know of the intertwining of time and space. We speak of family hour, a time and space for activity. We measure space in temporal terms when we indicate that some place is within a two-minute drive or a ten-minute walk. We use a spatial metaphor when we speak of a “length of time”. Specialist in the study of time-use affirm that we measure distances temporally.” [P. 39]

“Yet, the metaphor of “spatialized time” is profound for it emphasizes that the social ordering of time and space stands at the heart of organized human activity.” [P. 39]

“[…] temporal planning caracterized social action as project. That is, social action is carried out in the future perfect tense. Action is cast into the future in order to accomplish acts that will have happened, should everything go as anticipated.” [P. 41]

“One may generalize that the news media carefully imposed a structure upon time and space to enable themselves to accomplish the work of any one day and to plan across days. As is the case with the spatial news net, the structuring of time influences the assessment of occurrences as news events.” [P. 41]

“Just as reporters seek central spatial locations to find potential news events, so, too, reporters are temporarily concentrated.” [P. 41]

“This matching of the news organization’s dispersion of reporters to the office hours of institutions extends to weekend scheduling.” [ P. 42]

“One consequence of synchronized working hour is that few reporters are available to cover stories before 10:00 AM os after 7:00 PM on weekdays, and even fewer at those times in weekends. This social arrangement influences the assessment of occurrences as potential news events. According to one New York reporter, anyone wishing coverage for an evening occurrence had better have a “damn good story”.” [P. 42]

“Epstein (1973) argues that news is also spatially limited. At the time of his study, the networks found it easier to cover stories in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Washington then in other cities because of the placement of connecting cables. Additionally, stories from Vietnam had to have a timeless quality, since the film had to be flown from Saigon to New York for editing. New technologies have created somewhat greater flexibility.” [Nota 5, P. 43]

“[…] to project work into time and so to control work, the news media plan across days.” [P. 44]

“A multitude of stories means that each one cannot be disseminated; choices must be made. […] The process of planning to handle this glut results in a system of classifying occurrences as news events.” [P. 45]

“[…] the news net produces more stories that can be processed. Each one of these is a potential drain upon the news organization’s temporal and staff resources.” [P. 45]

“Just as hospital personal differentiate among diseases according to their demands for organizational resources, news personnel must anticipate the claims of potential occurrences upon their resources. To control work, newsworkers have developed typifications of occurrences as news stories. (Typifications are classifications arising from practical purposive action.) Anchored or embedded in the use of time, the news typifications characterizes stories and constitutes newsworthiness.

The anchoring or embeddedness of typifications in time shares two other important characteristics with the anchoring of newsworthiness in the spatial news net. That is, both news typifications and the assignment of newsworthiness are relatively content free. We have seen that newsworthiness is a negotiated phenomenon rather than the application of independently derived objective criteria to news events. So too, typifications of kinds of news draw upon the way occurrences happen, not upon what is happening. The typifications are only relatively content free, because some sorts of occurrences are likely to happen one way while others have a different temporal rhythm.” [P. 46]

“At work, reporters and editors refer to five categories of news: hard, soft, spot, developing, and continuing. Journalism text and informants explain that these terms differentiate kinds of news content and the subject of events-as-news. Asked for definitions of their categories, newsworkers fluster, for they take this categories so much for granted that they find them difficult to define. To specify definitions, newsworkers offer examples of the stories that fall within a given category. They tend to classify the same stories in the same manner.” [P. 47]

Hard News Versus Soft News: The newsworkers’ main distinction is between hard news and its antithesis, soft news. As they put it, hard news concerns occurrences potentially available to analysis or interpretation, and consists of “factual presentations” of occurrences deemed newsworthy.” [P. 47]

“[…] soft news, also known as feature or human-interest stories.” [P. 47]

“Newsworkers distinguish between these two lists by saying that a hard-news story is “interesting to human beings” and a soft-news story is “interesting because it deals with the life of human beings” (Mott, 1952: 58). Or they state that hard news concerns information people should have to be informed citizens and soft news concerns human foibles and the “texture of our human life” (Mott, 1952: 58). Finally, newsworkers may simply summarize: Hard news concerns important matters and soft news, interesting matters.

These separate yet similar attempts to distinguish between hard and soft news present the same classificatory problem; the distinctions overlap. Frequently it is difficult, if not impossible, to decide whether an event is interesting or important or is both interesting and important. Indeed, the same event may be threated as either hard- or soft-news story.” [P. 48]

Spot News and Developing News: […]

Asked to discuss spot news, news workers replied that it is a type (subclassification) of hard news. They cited fires as a prototypical example of spot news. (Occasionally, informants added a second example, such as robbery, murder, accident, tornado, or earthquake.) The subject matter of all examples was conflict with nature, technology, or the penal code.

Asked about developing news (another subclassification of hard news), the newsworkers cited the same examples. Asked to distinguish between spot and developing news, informants introduced a new element: the amount of information that they have about an even-as-news at a given moment. When they learned of an unexpected event, it was classed “spot news”. If it took a while to [P. 48] learn the “facts” associated with a “breaking story”, it was “developing news”. It remained “developing news” so long as “facts” were still emerging and being gathered.” [P. 49]

Continuing News: […] continuing news is a series of stories on the same subject based upon the following events occurring over a period of time. As a prototype, the newsworkers cited the legislative bill. The passage of a bill they explained, is a complicated process occurring over a period of time.” [P. 49]

“[…] certain kinds of event-as-news tend to happen in certain ways. And so, reporters and editors “just happen” to be alerted to the need to process them in different ways.” [P. 50]

“The notion of news as frame, particularly the recognition that organizations perform work upon the everyday world to make sense of daily experience, enables the realization that the classificatory scheme is grounded in the rhythm of time use.” [P. 50]

“Embedded in practical tasks, the newsworkers’ typifications draw on the synchronization of their work with the likely schedule of potential news occurrences. […] the newsworkers’ distinctions between hard and soft news reflect questions of [P. 50] scheduling. Distinctions between spot and developing news pertains to the allocation of resources across time, and vary in their application according to the technology being used. And the typification “continuing news” is embedded in predicting the course of events-as-news.” [P. 51]

“If newsworkers do not act quickly, the hard-news story will be obsolete before it can be distributed in today’s news cast or tomorrow’s paper.” [P. 51]

“In contrast soft-news stories need not be “timely”. The Sunday newspaper is padded with feature stories about occurrences earlier in the week.” [P. 51]

“Members of the news enterprise almost always control the timing and flow of work required to process soft-news stories. […] A reporter may be assigned to these stories days in advance, and the specific information to be included in the story may be gathered, written, and edited days before its eventual dissemination.” [P. 52]

“Spot-news events are unscheduled; they appear suddenly and must be processed quickly. The examples offered by informants indicate that spot news is the specifically unforeseen event-as-news.” [P. 53]

“Some events that newsworkers nominate for membership in the typification “spot news” are of such importance that newsworkers try to create a stable social arrangement to anticipate them — even if the probability that the event will occur is minute.” [P. 53]

“Developing news concerns “emergent situations”.” [P. 54]

“”Facts” must be reconstructed and as more information becomes known, the “facts” will be more “accurate”. Although the actual occurrence remains the same, the account of it changes, or, as the newsworkers put it, “the story develops”. Ongoing changes of this sort are called “developing news”.

Most spot-news stories are developing news. Since both present interrelated work demands newspaper staffs tend to use the terms interchangeably. Television workers use the term “developing news” in a more restricted sense, identifying some stories as spot news that print journalists term “developing news”. Again technology acts as a key in their formulations, each technology being associated with a different rhythm in the centralized services feeding the news net.” [P. 55]

“Spot news and developing news are constituted in work arrangements intended to cope with the amount of information specifically predictable before an event occurs. These information is slight or nonexistent, because the events are unscheduled. In contrast, continuing news facilitates the control of work, for continuing news events are generally prescheduled. Prescheduling is implicit in the newsworkers definition [P. 56] of continuing news as a “series of stories on the same subject based upon events occurring over a period of time”. This definition implies the existence of prescheduled change.” [P. 57]

“Because they are prescheduled, continuing news stories help newsworkers in news organizations regulate their own activities by freeing staff to deal with the exigencies of the specifically unforeseen.” [P. 57]

“[…] newsworkers use typifications to transform the idiosyncratic occurrences of the everyday world into raw materials that can be subjected to routine processing and dissemination. Typifications are constituted in practical problems, including those posed by the synchronization of news work with how occurrences generally unfold. They impose order upon the raw material of news and so reduce the variability (idiosyncrasy) of the glut of occurrences. They also channel the newsworkers’ perceptions of the everyday world by imposing a frame upon strips of daily life.” [P. 58]

“Instead of existing as formulations subject to continual revision and reconstitution, objectified ideas may elicit set ways of dealing with the world. As the product of the intertwining of news time and the news net, the news typifications have become part of the reporter’s professional stock of knowledge-at-hand. That is, being a professional reporter capable of coping with idiosyncratic occurrences means being able to use typifications to invoke appropriate reportorial techniques.” [P. 58]

“Inaccurately predicted events-as-news require major unplanned alterations in work processes. Like spot news they are unscheduled and specifically unforeseen. Like developing news, they are perceived through the frame of a specific technology. Like continuing news, they involve both prediction and postdiction of an event as a member of a chain of events. The challenge knowledge and routines that reporters and editors take for granted.” [P. 59]

“In short, as professionals, they knew how to institute routines associated with the rhythm of newswork. And, as professionals, they were familiar with the news organizations need to generate stories and to control the idiosyncrasies of the glut of occurrences by dispersing reporters in a news net flung through time and space.” [P. 63]


Obras citadas

EPSTEIN, Edward Jay. News from Nowhere: Television and the News. Nova York: Random House, 1971.

MOTT, Frank Luther. The News in America. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1952.

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