- Slides: 13
What is News?
“ News is people acting and reacting. Jessica Savitch, reporter
• Anything CAN BE news. Not everything IS news. • The most important job of a journalist is to decide what to write about. It’s your job to decide what’s important enough to go into a newspaper, magazine, or news program. • This is a big responsibility. When you decide what to write about or not write about, you “set the agenda”– you tell the people in your community what to think about and what to talk about. • So how do you decide?
The 7 Elements of Newsworthiness
Timeliness A car accident that happened three years ago is not news. A car accident that happened today is. News is often called “the first draft of history. ” It is the recording of major events as they happen. It is based on the most complete and accurate information available at the time of publication. If your readers already know about something, it is not news-not hard news, anyway.
Proximity The closer the event is to your readers, the more important it is. A new director in the school is major news for the school newspaper. A new director in a school two hours away, however, is not news at all. Certain global events concern everyone: major wars or disasters, for example.
Audience Who is reading your newspaper? What do they care about? A good newspaper will anticipate the concerns and questions of its readers. If your paper is only read by students in the 11 th form, for example, they probably won’t care about an upcoming exam for 9 th formers. But they will care about getting into college, getting a job, etc.
Effect How many people are effected by the story? The more of your audience effected, the more newsworthy the story. Very few people will care about Bobby Johnson’s new bike, for instance; probably only Bobby Johnson. But many of your readers would likely care about an election for a new mayor, as it will effect everyone.
Prominence How well known are the people, events, or issues in your story? If a famous athlete comes to town, this is news. Certain issues, like global warming, are very popular now and stories involving climate change attract a lot of readers. This is a prominent issue.
Novelty How unique, interesting, strange, or new is your story? A lot of the above rules can be overruled by this one. For instance, if nobody in town has ever seen a bicycle before, Bobby Johnson’s new bike is definitely news. If your school director also plays guitar in a rock band, this is news. People like to read about unusual and interesting things.
Conflict and Drama A good story is not just a list of facts; it tells a story about people and the exciting things that happen to them. Often, dramatic events, like a fire or car accident, will be on the front page, while more important but more boring news, like a new tax increase, will be on the second or third page. The tax increase will effect more people in their daily lives, but it is not dramatic. It’s important to consider the balance between entertainment and information in your newspaper.
Hard vs. Soft News • Hard News. This is the most timely and important news, like a car accident, robbery, press conference, new law, etc. It is usually “dry”– meaning, short, to the point, and filled with information. • Soft News. This is less timely and more entertaining or insightful. It can be analysis of a hard news event a few weeks later, or stories like profiles, interviews, and “human interest” stories.