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The Times story:G-spot is a myth

January 3, 2010 8 comments

Frontpage news on The Sunday Times: What an anti-climax: G-spot is a myth. What qualities does this story have that earned itself a place on the frontpage?  

The Sunday Times Frontpage

A new research reveals that the universally believed G-spot in women’s vagina doesn’t exist at all. It’s imaginary in the first place, then reinforced by media reporting and experts’ talking. 

As you can see, this piece of news takes the lower left space, accompanied by stories of failed terror attack, public pay and MP staying above law stories on the front page. 

The G-spot myth is not the topic of this post, but its news value triggers some thinking. 

What makes news?

It’s boring to talk about ‘criteria’ without looking at real stories. So let’s see what values this G-spot story has got. 

I’ll go through the list of news values I learned from school and tick where it fits: 

  1. immediacy.
  2. conflict. √
    Some say there isn’t; some insist there is. Both sides argue in the story.
  3. proximity.√
    Except for those too young or too old, people are sort of related to the news, married or unmarried.
  4. threat to public safety.
    Well, maybe yes, maybe no. Hard to tell.
  5. public interest.
    Not this one but the next one.
  6. human interest. √
  7. entertaining. √
    Absolutely. Full stop.
  8. Big name involvement.
    This is where the journalist can improvement on the story. LoL~
  9. unusual. Half √
    It’s not usual, at least.
  10. impact. Half √ again.
    Don`t know what kind of impact there will be. Maybe positive for some, but negative for others.
  11. breaking.
  12. exclusive story.
  13. topical. √
    You want to hear about it, but you might feel shy to talk about it.
  14. scandal.
  15. juicy. √
    A lot, isn’t it?

If a story has any one of these values, it could have become news worth publishing or broadcasting.

This G-spot story has 7 out of 15. Wow, didn’t realize that before. Nearly half !

Surely it is news, and a piece of good news. I have to agree with the editor to put it on the frontpage. 

Readers decide contents

Was I joking when talking about news values just now? Maybe. 

But the interesting thing is that this story has never been published on the front page of Times Online. There is nowhere to find it no matter how deep you scroll down the page. You have to search. 

Why? 

By my guess, Times Online readers don’t change much on weekends from weekdays. Almost the same group of people visit the site looking for the kinds of news they are familiar with. 

This G-spot story, as categorized on the site under ‘science’ channel, might not appeal to news readers. 

But for the print version delivered to home, people read it for relaxation. It’s weekend anyway. People need something soft, interesting, fun, surprising, or anything but serious. 

It is readers who decide what the contents should be. 

The Times did a good job in this sense, didn’t they?

PS: Do click G-spot is a myth on the Times site to see the picture they use. This is a good example where pictures say more than words.

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Rewrite: Southern Weekly’s interview with US president

November 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Southern Weekly did an exclusive interview with US president Barack Obama during his visit in China last week.

The newspaper editor-in-chief and one of its senior journalists conducted the interview and the 6 questions they asked are:

  • Favorite part about visiting China
  • Whether have spare time to play basketball
  • China-America cooperation in Asia-pacific region
  • Timetable to acknowledge China’s market economic status
  • US restrictions on high-tech export to China
  • Policy on not restraining China’s rise

Sensitive issues such as China’s human rights, freedom of speech, internet blockage, etc. were not raised, or at least, not published.

According to Xing Lieshan, one of the newspaper’s senior editors, the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China was angry about the interview and instructed that no other media or websites should republish the interview.

One reason is that the department was not informed before the interview, the other reason is that the department was not happy about certain issues talked about in the interview.

Mr. Xing explained that interviews with visiting leaders were usually conducted by Xinhua News Agency or CCTV (China Central TV), the two most loyal mouthpieces of the Communist Party, but this time, Mr. Obama handpicked Southern Weekly, probably because of its reputation for speaking for the people and exposing government scandals.

He said the Publicity Dept. is an organization of the Party, and it’s inappropriate for the US side to raise interview request with them; instead, the US delivered request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was not the newspaper’s fault that the communication between the ministry and the department broke up.

As for those sensitive topics, the newspaper was left with no choice but cutting them out before publishing. Everything happened at such a short notice that they had to leave half of the paper in blank.

However, the newspaper is very clever. They put two lines  in the centre of the blank implying China’s censorship. It says:

No everyone can become a big shot, but all can understand China right here.

PS: This is a revised version of the last post. I tried to apply general writing rules and also online writing rules. Which one do you think is better?