What is news?


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What makes something or someone newsworthy? This slideshow explains.

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What is news?

  1. 1. Journalism 101 By Prof. Mark Grabowski www.markgrabowski.com
  2. 2. Introduction The first part of writing a good story is coming up with a good story idea. In my journalism classes, students choose their story topics. Let’s discuss some of the variables that makes something or someone newsworthy…
  3. 3. Timeliness If something is happening NOW, it is more newsworthy than if it happened yesterday or last week or two weeks ago. Oftentimes the most newsworthy element in the story is the most recent happening, the latest thing in a series of happenings which relate to the news event.
  4. 4. New stories are breaking every day in the NFL. First, it was Ray Rice. Then Roger Goodell. Now, it’s Adrian Peterson’s turn for the limelight. Who knows who the spotlight will be on next?
  5. 5. For example: A profile of the star baseball player would be much more timely in the Spring semester than a profile of a soccer player, since baseball is in season and soccer is out of season. Focus on things that are ongoing, happening now or in the future rather than things that happened several weeks or more in the past. So, write about someone doing something interesting NOW (or very recently or in the near future), not someone who accomplished something a year ago.
  6. 6. Note: Keep in mind, though, that being a member of a school sports team takes talent but it is not newsworthy by itself. However, if the athlete set a school record for points scored or got drafted by a professional team, that’s newsworthy.
  7. 7. Proximity How close to your readers is this event taking place? All other things being equal, something that is happening in or near their location is much more meaningful to them than something taking place across town or across the world.
  8. 8. A winter snow storm may be front page news here … but not in Florida where it’s 65 degrees and sunny in January.
  9. 9. For example: A student in last year’s class profiled a student who was making a name for himself as a musician. The musician was from Syosset – and has even won a Battle of the Bands at Syosset High when he was a student there – so the Syosset Patch was interested in the story. It could have also been a nice story for the school newspaper, since it involved a student.
  10. 10. Note: Students often propose stories about musicians. The issue is, can you convince your readers s/he's newsworthy? Keep in mind, there are lots of talented musicians out there. But in order to set this person apart from all the other garage-band wannabes out there, you need concrete details and evidence to provide credibility. Does this person have a record deal? Has s/he performed in large music venues? Been a contestant on a reality talent show? Won awards? etc. Absent things like that, it will be difficult to establish him/her as being newsworthy. Your story will basically amount to, "He's really awesome - trust me!"
  11. 11. Prominence Is a well-known person part of the story? Or did someone achieve prominence? Readers like to read about people they know. If a person is well-known or did something noteworthy, more readers will be interested than if a person who is mentioned is not known.
  12. 12. Half of all marriages end in divorce, so it’s not news when that happens … unless it involves someone of prominence.
  13. 13. For example: Zachary Borst, a Communications major who graduated from Adelphi University in 2007, won the Chevrolet Route 66 advertising competition. In addition to winning the $25,000 prize, his commercial aired during last year’s Super Bowl. Newsday ran a cover story on him.
  14. 14. Keep in mind: Writing about someone famous is by itself not newsworthy. You need to tell readers something they don’t already know. Consequently, profile stories about professional athletes or other celebrities generally aren’t a good route to go for this class. Chances are that person has already been profiled several times in major media outlets. And your profile story will likely just read like a Wikipedia entry. So, please don’t try to impress me by interviewing that Mets player your uncle knows.
  15. 15. Oddity If something is out of the ordinary, it may be newsworthy just because of that fact. The strange or unusual is fascinating to many readers.
  16. 16. Did you hear about this psychic ape?
  17. 17. For example: A student in last year’s class profiled an Adelphi student who was a quadruplet and made commercials with his brothers and even appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
  18. 18. Consequence How will this event impact your readers? How important is it? Something that is more important will be more newsworthy than something that is of little importance, all other things being equal.
  19. 19. For example: A student a couple years ago did an enterprise story on sexual activity on campus, conducted an extensive survey, and found Adelphi students were on average much more sexually active than others campuses. Another student wrote an op-ed about banning smoking everywhere on campus. Issues like these affect many students.
  20. 20. Conflict Is there a conflict between persons in the story? A rivalry? A misunderstanding? People are naturally drawn to conflict and find it fascinating.
  21. 21. ISIS and developments in the Mideast have garnered much attention.
  22. 22. For example: War, elections, sports. Any time there is a struggle. In an election year a lot of stories about the election are news. The conflict in Afghanistan is news. A student in last semester’s class wrote a story about the Student Government Association’s transparency (or alleged lack of).
  23. 23. Human Interest Anything that appeals to the reader’s emotions…makes him laugh, cry, get angry, feel sympathy, etc….has the potential for human interest.
  24. 24. For example, Michael Sam’s NFL dream is much more than just a sports story.
  25. 25. For example: Last year, a student profiled an Adelphi nursing student who overcame cancer. So, it was a good human interest story about this her health struggles and perseverance. The story was published in The Massapequa Observer.
  26. 26. Three goals of journalism  Inform  Educate  Entertain
  27. 27. What is NOT newsworthy: •If another reporter has already published a story about your subject, s/he's not newsworthy. The person is old news. Choose someone else. Be sure to research your subject to ensure someone hasn’t already published a story about him/her. I will penalize you if I discover your subject has already been profiled. •Don’t write about dead people – that’s an obituary, not a profile. Remember, you must be able to interview the person you are writing about.
  28. 28. Some more tips: •Pick something newsworthy to many people, not just you. •Being in a sorority, doing community service, and playing the cello while working and maintaining a B-plus average is impressive. But it’s not newsworthy. Many students successfully juggle many tasks. •However, if the same student was the only person to win a national award for community service or just got signed by a professional orchestra, that would be newsworthy.
  29. 29. Some more tips: •Similarly, being a member of a school sports team takes talent but it is not newsworthy. However, if the athlete set a school record for points scored or got drafted by a professional team, that’s newsworthy.
  30. 30. Also: • Avoid writing about close friends, significant others, family members and anyone who has authority over you (e.g., a boss, a professor, etc.). This is a conflict of interest and will result in a grade of F. • Choose someone you have access to and whom you can interview (several times, if necessary). Make sure the person is OK with being written about in a story that may potentially be published.
  31. 31. Also: •You must be willing to share your work with the public – i.e. willing to publish it in the school newspaper or elsewhere. (Make sure your subject also knows the story might be published.) •This is journalism, not journal writing. Journalists write for others, not for themselves.
  32. 32. Sources: Presentation by Diane Smith Harper, Student Publications Adviser at Travis High School, http://www.slideshare.net/jteacher/news -elements?from_search=4