This is a printer friendly page
Free for educational use
Video clip synopsis – John Safran talks about the use of 'doorstopping' in current affairs programs. Scott Goodings traces the celebrity and entertainment value of today's news broadcasts to the 'news wars' of the late 1980s.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 2min 57sec
Tags - culture, media influence, media ownership, news media, popular culture, see all tags


News as Entertainment

How to Download the Video Clip

To download a free copy of this Video Clip choose from the options below. These require the free Quicktime Player.

download clip icon Premium MP4 entertainment_pr.mp4 (21.8MB).

ipod icon Broadband MP4 entertainment_bb.mp4 (10.3MB), suitable for iPods and computer downloads.

Additional help.

About the Video Clip


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.

Curriculum Focus


In this English unit students will learn:

  • that news and current affairs items, particularly on television, may be presented for reasons other than merely informing the audience
  • to observe, discuss, analyse and critique these types of news items
  • to experiment with producing and critiquing samples of their own.

Curriculum links
National: The Statements of Learning for English- Year 9

Reading, viewing and interpreting information and argument texts

  • Students read and view texts that entertain, move, parody, investigate, analyse, argue and persuade. These texts explore personal, social, cultural and political issues of significance to the students’ own lives.
  • Students understand that readers and viewers may need to develop knowledge about particular events, issues and contexts to interpret texts.


  • When students write information or argument texts, they make appropriate selections of information from a few sources and attempt to synthesise and organise these in a logical way.
  • Students write imaginative texts in print and electronic mediums that contain personal, social and cultural ideas and issues related to their own lives and communities and their views of their expanding world.

State and Territory

ACT High School, Later Adolescence: Mass media texts

  • The student interprets and constructs multimodal texts.
  • The student creates products using technology.

NT Band 5+
Strand: Reading and Viewing R/V 5+.1
Texts and Contexts

  • Students critically analyse and explain the socio-cultural values, attitudes and assumptions that texts reflect and project.

QLD Level 6
Cultural: making meanings in contexts
Critical: evaluating and reconstructing meanings in texts.

  • Students recognise that texts have points of view, even when these are not explicitly stated, and with teacher assistance identify and comment on them.
  • Students use some understanding and appreciation of the deliberately constructed nature of texts to interpret other texts within the same text type and across text types.
  • Students write detailed, unified expository and imaginative texts that explore challenging and complex ideas and issues.

Strand: Texts and Contexts
Reads and views a range of texts containing challenging ideas and issues and multiple views of the- past, present and future and examines some relationships between texts, contexts, readers and producers of texts.
Identifies and critically appraises combinations of features in texts when reading and viewing a broad range of texts dealing with abstract themes and sociocultural values.
Manipulates and synthesises a wide variety of strategies for reading, viewing, critically interpreting of meaning.

Being Literate
Listening, reading and viewing

  • Students read, listen to, view and critically analyse complex texts.
  • Students analyse the ways texts are constructed to position readers, viewers and listeners.
  • Students discuss the role of context in the construction and interpretation of texts, analysing how texts are interpreted differently by individuals and groups. They discuss the social, cultural and aesthetic purposes for which texts have been constructed.

Level 7 Reading

  • Students select appropriate strategies to critically analyse and interpret a range of complex texts, justifying their interpretations with substantial evidence; critically analysing how text structure and conventions can influence a reader’s response.

Level 7 Writing

  • Students write sustained, complex texts, controlling conventions to engage with readers in different contexts; critically appraises and reviews their own writing and the writing of others, reflecting on the processes and strategies for improving their writing.

This resource is also relevant to Media Studies- Audiences for news, Representations, Bias in the media, Codes and Conventions of news media, Influence of advertising on news and Media organisations.

These are extracts only. Teachers and students should consult their state’s curriculum and learning programs.
Go to The National Curriculum Statements for English

Background Information


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.

Classroom Activities

  1. Getting started
    View the two interview clips, then discuss in class and make notes on the following:
    1. characteristics that make a ‘newsworthy’ and informative news item
    2. characteristics that make a ‘non-newsworthy’ news item, one that entertains, advertises or promotes rather than informs.
  2. TV news and current affairs analysis
    In small groups, video-record some TV news and current affairs programs. View these programs, taking note of items that you think are presenting news and current affairs items as entertainment or as disguised advertising or promotional material.
    Within your group, prepare a written report of about 350–400 words on one of these items, discussing the messages it is imparting to the audience. Take note of:
    1. presenter’s and interviewer’s spoken text, physical appearance, posture and gesture, voice tone and inflexion, facial expressions
    2. text captions
    3. visual background stills
    4. film footage, and the way camera shots are edited together to create meanings and emotional responses,
    5. music and sound effects.
  3. Create your own news story
    In pairs, plan and write the scripts, then video-record and play to the class two different versions of the one television news story. The first version should be a news report telling the viewer the basics of What, Where, Who and When. The second version should be a news item presented with the purpose either of entertaining the audience rather than of informing them, or of advertising or promoting a product or an event. Examples are:
    1. a medical or pharmaceutical ‘breakthrough’
    2. a lottery win
    3. a fashion show

You should keep notes of your planning, editing and progress, altering the presentation where necessary, before releasing the final product for audience viewing. The rest of the class is to provide constructive and positive feedback about your presentation.

Further Resources


Go to From Wireless to Web for more about the history of broadcast media in Australia.

Television series: Frontline (episode 5, series 1) The Siege (1994) Santo Cilauro, Jane Kennedy, Rob Sitch, Tom Gleisner (director/producer)