What Makes Newsworthy?


Regardless of whether they work in the news business or regularly read/watch/listen to it as audience members, most people understand some very basic characteristics of News. These include the concepts of timeliness, drama, consequence and proximity. A story containing all of these elements is likely to be newsworthy.

But what exactly is a “good” or a “bad” news story? There are a variety of theories about what makes a story newsworthy. The most popular one is the idea that stories are chosen to reflect the interests of the people who are reading/watching/listening. It suggests that gatekeepers of media sources (journalists, editors and producers) look for stories that are interesting, involving, controversial or significant to their audiences.

This includes celebrities, entertainment and the weather; an unfolding drama (like a war, a political coup or a natural disaster); stories that provide a sense of surprise; stories that incorporate violence and scandal; and stories that are familiar and local. Other important news values are the ideas of magnitude and relevance.

A man catching the bus to work doesn’t make the news, for example, because it is not unusual or uncommon. But a coup in the next country over might.

When writing a news article, it is important to have a clear and concise headline that informs readers of the topic while seizing their interest. It is also important to use multiple sources to gather the facts and create a balanced, objective account of events. Finally, a news article is not complete without a strong and informative concluding sentence that is often a restatement of the lead statement or indicates future developments that may be of interest to your readership.

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