Date of Award

12-14-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Dr. Carrie Freeman

Second Advisor

Dr. Marian Meyers

Third Advisor

Dr. Tim Barouch

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Andrew I. Cohen

Abstract

Journalism, ethics, and the law all function in tandem. While media scholars have previously focused on traditional news values, ethical issues, and on the development of communication law, there exists a gap in academic literature concerning these three fields and their shared relationship to “newsworthiness.” This dissertation, using textual analysis and social responsibility of the press theory, examines how journalism textbooks, journalism ethics textbooks, journalism professional codes of ethics, and U.S. Supreme Court cases define and describe newsworthiness and story selection. The goal of the project is to draw from these sources to develop theoretically-informed newsworthiness criteria and make recommendations to the journalism professional codes of ethics concerning news value and story selection.

The dissertation narrows down newsworthiness factors in categories of objective news values (who, what) and evaluative values (presentation and storytelling) in light of ethical and socially responsible considerations (what should be considered newsworthy and of public interest). These findings will be helpful to working journalists and journalism students, as refined criteria will serve as professional and ethical guidelines concerning socially responsible story selection and reporting.

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