Monday, November 14, 2005

Communicating News Value: Two Examples of "Why Is This News?"

(Fair warning, this entry may graze close to the political. However, I feel it is a valuable lesson in the nuances of communication, and how perception can differ between us as individuals.)

Target sees Nov sales below plan
Wal-Mart's Profit Growth Is Lowest in More Than 4 Years

Well...this is quite a change from last year, isn't it? It's understandable of course, with the tremendous damage done to our economy and many thousands of lives from natural disasters and the high price of oil.

But in all honesty, I'm not sure of the news value in big department stores like Target and Walmart not having as high profit margins as they did previously. It makes perfect sense to communicate these developments to shareholders and investors, but announcing it?

The way I see it, good news communicates to its readers advice for their lives, information about current events, and possible predictions of future activity. So let's compare the gist of these articles to my three criteria.

Now, advice from these articles would only appear, to me, to be "Shop at these stores so their profits will go up." That's a reverse-dynamic that many people will not appreciate.

Information about current events? Yes, this is a current event. And yes, some people may want to read about Walmart not having ludicrously high profits this past quarter. So I guess these qualify here.

Predictions of future activity? Here's where I see the value to shareholders and investors. They are being warned that things didn't go well last time, and they may not go well in the near future either. Brace for high winds, sailors!

Now I grant you, my criteria for news value is certainly not going to be the same as another person's. But I at least hope others will consider this, and look with a more discerning eye at what we are given each day and called 'news.' As shareholders can definitely appreciate...maximize your value!

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