How our point of view impacts news

Obi-Wan Kenobi once said: “Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”

For news, it’s no different. The way stories are told and the way coverage is presented depends greatly on our own views, and those of our audience.

What’s good to one person may be evil to another. A small blurb in section H2 of a large metropolitan newspaper may be the cover story in a small town paper.

For editors, producers, and publishers, knowing how to present the news requires an understanding of your audience. What are their daily lives like? How do the issues affect them?

For a clear example, look no further than this year’s World Series, which wrapped up last night with the San Francisco Giants defeating the Kansas City Royals in seven games. On the surface, it’s a simple story. But the way different people view it changes can have a big impact on how it’s told.

Here is today’s front page of the San Francisco Chronicle:

Screen shot 2014-10-30 at 9.44.40 AM

It’s simple, emotional, and effective. The single, large photo of the Giants’ players hugging after the final out, the giant, single word headline “DYNASTY,” the images of the pennants at the top of the page, all of it combines to capture the euphoria of San Francisco fans.

But take a look at the front page of the Kansas City Star:

Screen shot 2014-10-30 at 9.44.22 AM

It’s still a single, emotional photo. It’s still a powerful, short headline. But instead, these elements are being used to share the Kansas City point of view: their magical season is over.

It’s the same story, but it’s told differently to represent a different audience. You wouldn’t want to put a picture of a smiling Giants player on the front page in Kansas City, because Royals fans already had to see that enough on TV while watching the game. Likewise, you wouldn’t put the dejected Royals player on the cover of the San Francisco Chronicle, because the Giants fans are celebrating their victory.

As an editor or producer, you’re not changing the story or altering the facts, you’re just choosing to tell it in a different way. That’s important – people don’t get invested in the news unless they have a connection to it.

Front pages courtesy of Newseum

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