Free for educational use
News as Entertainment
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 2min 57sec
Tags - audiences, broadcasting, change and continuity, communication, current affairs programs, entertainment, interviews, media, media influence, news media, popular culture, propaganda, reporting, social justice, television, television cameras, see all tags
How to Download the Video Clip
About the Video Cliptop
The interviews with John Safran and Scott Goodings were recorded for the website From Wireless to Web, produced in 2005.
John Safran is a filmmaker and self-proclaimed media hooligan. Scott Goodings is a self-proclaimed 'TV freak’ and walking archive. You can view their full biographies at From Wireless to Web
The website is a selective history of broadcast media in Australia. Decade by decade, from radio and newsreels to TV and the internet, this history shows how the Australian broadcast media developed and shaped the way Australians see themselves.
From Wireless to Web is a Film Australia production in association with Roar Film.
In April 1993 news crews descended on a siege at a remote farmhouse west of Grafton in NSW. They outnumbered the police by more than two to one. It was being reported that five people were already dead, and two children were being held as hostages. Journalists phoned the farmhouse to interview the gunmen.
Media coverage of the appalling event was compulsive, and dominated prime-time news. Broadcasters competed for the best story, the best interview. Channel Nine’s A Current Affair secured a telephone line to the children who were captives in the house. 'Did you see anyone being killed? Have you enjoyed this adventure?’ compere Mike Willesee asked the eleven year old. Willesee also conducted an interview by phone with the fugitive responsible for killing and burning the body of a girl.
Coverage of the event was widely condemned by police, psychologists and media commentators. The line between reported news and entertainment had been blurred. The tricks of television entertainment television had been pilfered to spice up the news. But meantime audience ratings had soared, and the networks were quick to realise that there were profits to be gained from an 'infotainment’ approach to news and current affairs.
Making and Producing
- Making the News
Set the class the project of producing a news report. The structure of the production should acknowledge the importance of news as entertainment – news to captivate the audience. Whilst the presentation of serious issues should remain solemn students should also provide light-hearted stories to balance the series of events and issues presented. The structure should reflect a similar structure where there are two co-presenters, with a variety of stories, some being lighter and some being serious journalistic reporting on current issues. Brief the co-presenters in terms of the delivery of the stories. The rest of the class should divide up to film the stories and edit them for the final show. The program should run for 20 minutes and contain approximately 5–8 stories.
Critical and Historical study
- Look at the News as Entertainment film clip on the From Wireless to Web website.
- Read the actions taken by journalist to obtain a ‘scoop’.
- Should there be an ethical code to guide journalists? If it were to have five main points, what would they be? List them.
- What is the purpose of news reports in contemporary society?
- Set up a debate around the topic: “The truth should never get in the way of a good story”.
- As the bidding for stories to become ‘scoops’ gets more competitive, the aspect of the news being objective is slowly being eroded in favour of making news reports populist and engaging to a wide audience. Should the news be objective or should it be constructed to entertain? Discuss.
Go to From Wireless to Web for more about the history of broadcast media in Australia.