What Makes it News?

by
Jun 27, 2008 in Journalism Basics

1. Material the public must have because it is important and helps them make an informed decision.

2. Something out of the ordinary, entertaining, interesting or fun to read:

Ordinary: dog bites man - old news
Unusual: man bites dog - a good story

3. Timely - the story must be timely, that's why they call it news! However, if your story has to do with something important that happened last week and was not reported, it is still news. (American newspapers often approach a story that a competing media house has reported in this way. Even if a story was reported elsewhere, they assume that people only read their paper or watch or listen to their broadcast and know nothing about a story until they tell them. The challenge is to expand on the story and find angles that the other media houses missed.) You may have to present the lead without the time factor and go straight to what happened and the latest developments. A missed story can also be an opportunity to dig deeper. An event that other media houses quickly reported on may indeed have been a different story or a more complex one.

4. Other factors that make news:

  • Conflict - individual against adversity, war, politics.
  • Progress - an invention, a new highway, technology.
  • Prominence - important people doing something - names make news.
  • Disaster - a mudslide, an earthquake a ferry capsizing.
  • Consequence - something that will affect a great number of people - a new dam, a new road, land-grabbing; plans to clear a forest and build a factory.