Social Media News Analysis

Throughout the course of this blog entry, we will be analysing the coverage of news over various media platforms with regards to its sense of; accuracy and balance; timeliness and when the story was first distributed, as well as; the key elements and angles each platform focused on when discussing the story.

The news story that will be used as an example for this analysis, is one first broadcasted to the public on March 7th 2017 about a man who has faked his identity as a doctor for a little over a decade in four different hospitals in New South Wales.

 

News of the fake doctor, Shyam Acharya, was first reported by Channel Seven on ‘The Morning Show’ on March 7th at 2:28p.m., with a live report on the story being embedded in a tweet on their Twitter profile. The tweet stated that the doctor, who had been working for 11 years, was now on the run- with the 29 second clip further explaining how he also treated emergency patients. This video clip was not uploaded onto their official ‘Morning Show’ website until the next day.

Link to ‘The Morning Show’ website and video- https://au.tv.yahoo.com/the-morning-show/video/watch/34589593/hunt-for-fake-doctor-who-spent-11-years-illegally-practicing/#page1

 

On the same day, the Nine News Sydney and Seven News Adelaide Twitter profiles uploaded clips and information on the same story, but it was not until 9:06 (Seven News) and 9:43 (Nine News) later that night, respectively.

 

On March 8th at 6:30 p.m., Nine News broadcasted the report on television and the Australian online published an article on the story nineteen minutes later, followed by the Guardian a further twenty six minutes later. Below are the links to the online articles by the Australian and the Guardian:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/private-company-outed-fake-nsw-doctor/news-story/aac65b1a2b1db2f488ed9691b50737e6

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/mar/08/fake-doctor-allegedly-used-stolen-documents-to-work-in-nsw-hospitals?CMP=soc_568

 

News Values and essential elements

Murray Masterton (as cited in Lamble, 2013, p 45) stated there are ‘three essential elements which allow information to become news and six truly international criteria- news values if you like -which can be used to assess the level of newsworthiness of that information’. The three elements were interest, timeliness and clarity, with the six news values being: significance (impact), proximity, conflict, human interest, novelty, and prominence.

For this analysis, we will be looking at the similarities and differences present between these media platforms and their coverage of the story when it comes to some of the ‘essential elements and the ‘big six’ news values.

 

Timeliness

The Twitter platform was the first to possess coverage of the story- with the Nine News, Seven News and Morning Show tweets being posted on the 7th March, with the latter having published their tweet seven hours earlier than the first two. Most television broadcasts or online articles were not distributed until late in the afternoon on the 8th– including the Nine News television broadcast and the Australians’ and the Guardians’ articles online, each from fifteen to forty-five minutes apart and possessing more updated information on the story than the original tweets the day beforehand.

Clarity

Each story covers the basic outline it was Indian man Shyam Acharya who faked being a doctor in NSW for over a decade in hospitals at Manly, Hornsby, Gosford and Wyong. In the tweets and their video clips, despite the limit on characters accepted for each tweet and the length of the clips, they cover the basic information of what, where and who. They do not go into full detail of why, when or how the event happened- it is not until the next day more information arises and these stories are updated, with more description on Acharyas’ history, the $30,000 fine placed upon his conviction and his disappearance before his court hearing being published online to the Australian and the Guardian sites.

Human Impact

As the story progressed, Seven News managed to speak with not one, but two patients of the fake doctor. The first interview was published on their website on the 10th March, while the second was on the 14th. Within these reports, they reassure the Health  Department confirms they were proper patients of Acharyas’. Both patients claimed Acharya refused to give them appropriate pain medication and was highly abusive to them. The first, Roxanne Holmes, stated she had back pain and saw him in Manly, 2012, where the second, Amy Gleeson, claimed she was treated by him in Gosford, 2014. Both had been refused any form of pain medication, with Gleeson- a wife and mother of two -stating she has a heart condition and, by being refused her medication, almost lost her life.

https://au.news.yahoo.com/nsw/a/34614910/i-was-horrified-woman-treated-by-fake-doctor-at-manly-hospital/#page1– March 10th interview

https://au.news.yahoo.com/nsw/a/34645825/sydneys-fake-doctor-found-in-india-patient-feared-she-would-die-in-his-care/#page1 -March 14th interview

As well as this, Nine News also posted onto their website a brief article which covered the new angle of the impersonated doctor himself, going into description of his home and work life as a husband and a well-respected doctor.

http://www.9news.com.au/national/2017/03/08/10/21/fake-doctor-who-practiced-in-nsw-for-12-years-may-have-fled

Unlike other broadcasts and updates of the story, the interviews and article reflect the value of human impact more strongly. Throughout the course of the story, the focus had been entirely on the fake doctor himself as he was caught and when he fled. This brings about a whole new angle filled with more emotion as we are brought to understand the dire circumstances with the bringing about of real life people who have been affected by the events of the story.

 

Conclusion

Each of these media outlets shared many similarities when it came to the angle of the story and the amount of information revealed to the general public. They each followed through with the distributing of similar information when the story first broke out as well as the main angle and values taken into consideration when publishing the story.

The speed of the story was heavily influenced by Twitter being the first platform to publish the story. Dunlop (2016) states, ‘Social media is often seen as a tool used by publishers and journalists to distribute content, brand individual journalists and publishers and to engage with audiences’. This is relevant to the story’s coverage on Twitter, for once the story broke out many Twitter users began sharing or creating their own content on the subject matter. The use of social media as a news distributor allowed more room for audience thought and opinion as well as reaction.  

While the first few published works on the story shared a rather similar angle in how the story was approached, this changed significantly once more information was accumulated. Especially in the cases of the Nine News article on the real doctor and the Seven News interviews with the patients. Because of this, a new value was covered in their story as well as more information being accessible for audience understanding.

The key differences that lie within the coverage of this story include the updated information on the story which led to a change in the angle, as well as a shift in the clarity of the subject and the timeliness of these uploads which too have an effect on the story and its interpretation by the general public.

 

References:

Lamble, S 2013, ‘The ‘big six’ news values’, News as it happens: an introduction to journalism, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, pp. 45-52

Dunlop, T 2016, ‘Success, Trends and Influences of Social Media in Mainstream Media’, Media Innovation and Disruption, retrieved from www.futureleaders.com.au, pp. 69-84

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