Determining what is Newsworthy
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Determining what is Newsworthy

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Intended for new media and journalism students at Mercer County Community College in Prof. Holly Johnson's classes. The goal of this presentation is to help students learn to determine what kind of ...

Intended for new media and journalism students at Mercer County Community College in Prof. Holly Johnson's classes. The goal of this presentation is to help students learn to determine what kind of stories are good for new media projects.

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Determining what is Newsworthy Determining what is Newsworthy Presentation Transcript

  • What is newsworthiness? Newsworthiness is the term we use to describe whether or not a topic is interesting enough for people to want to know about it. We call it having good “news judgment” when a reporter knows what kinds of stories will be of interest to his or her audience.
  • How do you develop goodnews judgment? There are nine basic elements that contribute to making a story newsworthy. The more newsworthy aspects or elements a story contains, the more newsworthy it is. In general, a good article contains at least four elements of newsworthiness.
  • What are the nine basic elementsof newsworthiness? 6. Prominence 7. Conflict 8. Human interest 9. Usefulness
  • Timeliness We determine if a story is timely by considering if the story is relevant now but will not be as meaningful in a few days, weeks or months. Hard news stories emphasize timeliness.
  • Timeliness If this house fire happened this morning, the story is timely. If it happened five month ago, it is is not.
  • Proximity In general, people are more interested in things that are happening near them than those that are happening far away. We call this element of newsworthiness proximity. For people to care about issues that are happening far away from them, those issues have to be very large or have to affect them in some meaningful way.
  • Proximity Security officers getting into a physical altercation with LGBT students at MCCC over a kiss-in event in the cafeteria will likely resonate more with Mercer readers than a story about a gay student in Mississippi whose school wouldn’t publish her yearbook photo because she was dressed in clothes that the administrators felt were not feminine enough. Although both stories are interesting, the MCCC story has the added benefit of proximity to the readership.
  • Novelty How new and exciting is the information you want to report? If a story is old and predictable, we consider it to lack novelty. Sometimes topics grow old but something new happens that makes them newsworthy again. It’s the reporter’s job to find an angle that makes the story fresh so it still contains some novelty.
  • Novelty A day after Capt. Leslie “Sully” Sullenberger made an emergency landing of a USAirways airplane in the Hudson River in New York, everyone knew the basic facts: the plane hit a flock of birds during take off, both engines blew out, the captain had no choice but to land, everyone made it to safety. The topic was still interesting to people, but they already knew the basic facts. Subsequent stories focused on the bravery of the captain, the individual experiences of the crew, even the experiences of the rescue workers. These stories contained more novelty for readers than another story of why the plane went down.
  • Impact The term “impact” refers to how many people are affected by the issues covered in the story. We say a story has higher potential impact if the topic is relevant to a large percentage of the audience.
  • Impact Accuplacer cut scores The Honors Program will are changed so more include three new classes students at MCCC place this semester. into remedial classes that carry no college credit but cost money. Every student at MCCC has to take the Accuplacer test, so the entire student body (12,000 students) is affected by the Accuplacer cut score changes. By contrast, only students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher, who are taking 12 credits or more per semester, are qualified for the Honors program. At present, 60 students are enrolled in Honors courses. So, although both stories are interesting, the Accuplacer article has more impact.
  • DramaStories with mystery, suspense or heightenedemotion, are considered to be more dramaticthan stories that lack this feature.
  • Drama A manhunt proceeded Muslim Mercer students throughout the day in search of celebrate the holy month of Ralph Johnson, who shot his ex- Ramadan. wife and her husband in Hamilton, NJ this morning. . By 5:00 PM the hunt was over. Johnson shot himself in the head as the authorities closed in on him at the Ewingville Cemetery in Ewing. He was taken to Capital Health Regional Trauma Center but did not survive. Diversity stories are good, but not surprisingly the drama of a manhunt caused the story on the left to get more reads than the Ramadan article on the VOICE’s website: 647 reads to 4.
  • Prominence Ever find yourself wondering why on earth the news would ever bother to cover Lindsey Lohan’s latest breakdown? The answer is prominence. Celebrities, politicians, and well- known or highly ranking business people and officials are considered prominent and so worthy of news coverage. If prominence is the ONLY newsworthy element to a story, it is likely not a good story to run.
  • Prominence
  • Conflict Everyone loves a fight. Sports and political stories almost always have elements of conflict. Interpersonal conflict also figures into many features stories. Topics of human vs. human, human vs. nature, human vs. machine are other staples the conflict category.
  • Conflict Nation vs. Nation Man vs. Nature Man vs. Kangaroo Man vs. Machine Man vs. Woman
  • Human Interest Stories about unusual and interesting people, even if they aren’t very prominent, can be compelling to readers. Features stories often emphasize human interest. Everyone has a story. The key is for the reporter to find it and convey it effectively. When writing a profile, the key information must come from those who know the person, not the person him or herself.
  • Human Interest New Criminal Art Professor Mercer soccer Justice Lucas Kelly star Amit Professor uses himself Aburmad, Elizabeth as a canvas. originally from Bondurant is Israel, gets full former police ride chief of scholarship to Plainsboro, Boston NJ. College.
  • Usefulness An article in a newspaper cannot teach you how to land a plane or play “Stairway to Heaven” on the guitar, but it can provide useful information that can provide meaningful assistance to the audience. What is useful? A map of campus. A how to guide for signing up for spring classes. How to ready your home for a storm. How to avoid getting speeding tickets. These are useful pieces of information that can be part of larger articles or even stand alone pieces.
  • Usefulness
  • How newsworthy is this? As you consider the newsworthiness of each article, first think about the audience, their location and their needs. Then think about the categories of newsworthiness. Remember that the more elements of newsworthiness a story has, the better. A good story should have at least four elements of newsworthiness. Are these articles newsworthy? Why? Why not?
  • Park51 – Newsworthy? Or not?
  • Airbags for riders – Newsworthy? Or not?
  • Balloon boy neighbor – Newsworthy? Or not? Balloon boy neighbor – watch video – click here.
  • Which story is more newsworthy? Mercer Diversity Day Celebrates Haiti Lawrence High students protest governor’s education cuts
  • Which story is more newsworthy? No health center on campus Mercer’s parking situation continues to suck
  • How do I find a newsworthy topic to cover? • Be on the lookout for conflict or interesting events. When you see an event in progress, get your notebook out and start reporting! • Look at bulletin boards and calendars (posted and online) to find out what is happening so you can plan to attend an event. • Be listening to what classmates are saying about things they’ve seen. They may offer you a good topic to cover.
  • END