Start with questions. “For whom am I writing? Who is my audience?” Then ask, “Which of these categories is most important or interesting to that audience with the facts I have at this time?”
Conflict Conflict holds the interest of observers, whether physical or emotional. It can be open conflict, such as a civil uprising against police authority, or it may be ideological conflict between political candidates. Think of the types of conflict you know about from English class. What are some of the types of conflict you can use for news stories?
Impact/Consequence The fact that a car hit a utility pole isnt news, unless, as a consequence, power is lost at school for several hours. The fact that a computer virus found its way into a computer system might not be news until it shuts down the internet at school and forces a day of “tech free” teaching. Is the story relevant to readers?
Novelty As the saying goes, “When a dog bites a man, no one cares. When the man bites back – now that’s a news story.” Deviation from the normal, expected course of events is something novel, and thus newsworthy.
Proximity How close to the community did the news happen? Chances are if four ILS students are killed in a car accident, it will be considered news. However, if four students are killed in a car accident at a high school in Michigan, it may pass without notice. But there are exceptions. In reporting world news, the writer must work to localize connections.
Prominence If one of the students killed in the hypothetical car accident in Michigan is a basketball phenom or a famous actor, it may get covered. Readers want to know about well-knows people. If a Supreme Court Justice gets married, its news; if Sally Smith, your next-door neighbor, gets married, it probably isnt.
Timeliness It’s called NEWs for a reason: it’s new. Will the story still matter in an hour/day/week/month? News stories should be produced in a timely matter so that it is still relevant to readers. Feature stories are different because the have a different purpose. Review: What is that purpose?
Useful A story that gives readers practical facts or advice is one that is likely to interest them. What can readers use from this story to help them live healthier/better/easier etc.?
Entertaining/Human Interest Human-interest stories are generally soft news or features. They are about, and focus on, people or one person. They tell the story from that person’s point of view and include feelings, reactions, quotes etc. Interesting characters or heart-felt stories are key!
At the end, ask one question: So what? What do we call the “so what” of a story? Stories presented from this perspective often have explicit statements to the audience about the impact or value.
A question of economy The relationship between journalist and audience can bee seen an economic relationship. It is an exchange of effort (of reading a newspaper) for benefit (what reader gets from buying the paper and reading the story). In effect, readers or audience members make an economic decision about their attention to news content. They ask, in effect, “Is the effort, time and money that I spend to consume (read, view, listen) the story worth it?”
Readers or audience membersmake an economic decision abouttheir attention to news content. They ask, in effect, “Is the effort, time and money that I spend to consume (read, view, listen) the story worth it?” You want their answer to be “Yes!”
Adapted from: http://www.cybercollege.com/newscrit.htm http://journalism.about.com/od/reporting/a/n ewsworthy.htm The American Society of News Editors (ASNE) Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI)
Homework Find two stories, one from a news website (CNN, NY Times, Miami Herald, BBC, etc.) and the other from a tabloid or gossip website (TMZ, Hello Magazine, OK Magazine, People). Discuss the newsworthiness of each story, using what you have learned as a guide. Discuss each element individually in two or three sentences. If the story does NOT have one of the qualities, discuss how this affects the overall impact of the story. Finally, summarize your findings and tell me whether you think the story is news worthy or not. Write neatly and in APA style in your writing. Turn in the articles (or links to them) along with your written evaluation. Each evaluation should be about a page long. We will discuss your findings next class.