News selection and news situations : a Q-study of news editors in Malawi

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Banda, Zeria N.
Popovich, Mark N.
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of Journalism
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Fourteen Malawian news editors Q-sorted fifty-four stories under two situations: their real environment which is a developmental press system, and a hypothetical ideal situation emulating a western libertarian system. The Qconcourse was constructed using eighteen news value combinations developed by Water Ward through a 3x3x2 factorial design. The stories were sorted along an eleven point bi-polar continuum from "most likely to use" to "least likely to use."The study showed that in an ideal situation, all Malawian editors selected stories with conflict, known principal and impact. In their own situations, the editors split into two: Pro-government Editors who selected known principal, conflict and magnitude stories; and Privatelyowned Newspaper Editors who valued known principal and impact, followed by conflict and oddity. Despite the use of these news elements, the study showed that environmental factors in their own situations such as organizational policy and ownership also influenced story choices. Progovernment Editors would rather use a "normality" story, than use one with conflict, impact and known principal, but speaking ill of government.