Analysis Task Two (Week Five)

News Story – Cassie Sainsbury’s arrest for cocaine possession in Colombia

The Platform:

An exploration of the content produced by News.com.au and the Sydney Morning Herald, along with Facebook and Twitter, demonstrated that – where a story is controversial and lends itself to the creation of a narrative – news outlets can be prepared to return to feature length written news stories.

Both News.com.au and the Sydney Morning Herald paired one to two minute videos with a feature length piece on Cassie Sainsbury’s background and the allegations against her.

Facebook and Twitter showed that numerous news stories, mostly from Channel 7 and Channel 9, had been published about the details of the allegations, her personal life, and the upcoming television exposes where her family members would be interviewed. The most popular approach from news outlets was to post a photo with a quote or provocative question which acted as a link to a feature length article. However, news outlets also posted photos with short (250-350 words) articles providing an update on how the story has been unfolding. Chanel 7 chose to posted numerous videos – interviews and live footage – to create an idea that they have the most up-to-date news on Cassie Sainsbury’s arrest.

Learning from the Sites:

Although News.com.au and the Sydney Morning Herald featured more articles than would normally be published on a single event, it was the social media response which was particularly enlightening. Although the raw story contains dramatic elements, social media was employed to create hype and drama around the event, so that the story was subject to media attention for a number of weeks. Because of the dramatic elements to the story, journalists were able to publish feature length articles on the arrest, creating characters, exploring morality and playing on the public’s desire to keep up to date with soap operas. Social media played a significant role in perpetuating the relevance of the arrest; acting as a platform for ‘breaking news’ as the television networks delved deeper into Cassie Sainsbury’s past through interviews with family members and colleagues.

As with ordinary stories, however, the ability to add videos created greater depth. Audiences were able to develop a stronger understanding of Cassie Sainsbury’s context, and the impact of the arrest on her family.

Findings:

This story demonstrates that where a news event is controversial, the manner in which it is covered differs greatly from ordinary news. Although an ordinary story would receive a few hundred words’ attention – with a brief supplementary video – this story was the subject of numerous articles, live video coverage, interview based story packages, and two televised exposes (Sunday Night and 60 Minutes). This demonstrates the attitude of audiences towards news, which must be understood when attempting to effectively communicate with audiences.

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