A guide to help potential contributors develop their skills.
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Orthodox view based on original research now more than half a century old, since revisited:
- The Structure of Foreign News, Johan Galtung & Marie Holmboe Ruge (1965)
- What Is News? Galtung and Ruge revisited, Tony Harcup & Deirdre O’Neill (2001)
- What Is News? News values revisited (again), Tony Harcup & Deirdre O’Neill (2016)
- threshold: event must pass minimum size/scale/intensity/effect threshold to be reported, beyond which greater impact = more coverage
- frequency: sudden events more likely to be reported than long-term/gradually unfolding stories
- negativity: bad news more exciting than good (also likely to score highly on other metrics)
- unexpectedness: unusual more interesting than everyday (aka man bites dog not dog bites man)
- unambiguity: easy to understand topics (fewer possible interpretations) more likely to be reported than those with complex background or requiring specialist knowledge.
- personification: stories presented in terms of actions of named individuals, or concerning particular people, or presented from human interest angle preferred to those presented as result of abstract social forces (which are more likely to be presented if can be illustrated via references to individuals)
- meaningfulness: cultural relevance or proximity to audience preferred (language, identity, values etc.)
- elite organisations/institutions: stories involving powerful actors more likely than those about less influential players
- elite people: stories involving important persons (wealthy, powerful, famous, infamous) with influence on lives of audience more likely than those about ordinary people.
Pragmatics of coverage
- consonance: stories matching sector’s expectations of newsworthiness more likely to be reported than those which do not, journalists more likely to cover event for which they are prepared
- continuity: story already in news and of persistent interest more likely to be reported, partly because previous coverage has made story more accessible to audience
- compositional balance: story that adds to coverage range more likely to be reported than one that adds to pile of similar items.
Has something happened that is:
- problematic or controversial?
- unexpected or unusual?
- easy to grasp?
- involving a prominent organisation, institution or individual?
- suitable for the media channel?
The more criteria a story meets the better, but if a story does not meet any of these criteria for its intended audience it is unlikely to gain any attention.
Whether these orthodox criteria apply, and to what extent, depends on editorial approach and publishing/organisational development strategy.
Issues (that aren’t mentioned):
- How important is exclusivity (aka positional difference)?
- How important is timeliness/recency?
- What about the public interest?
- What about research, resource or time constraints?
- What about the specific and/or professional focus of the journalist (aka beat)?
- News writing
- News brief
- Submission guide
- Objectivity, neutrality, impartiality & balance
- Information sources
- Perspective sources
- Multimedia collateral & copyright
- Feature writing
- Research resources
- Data protection & media law
- Local government transparency & information access rights
- Exeter regional democracy & governance
- Exeter regional planning & place
- Exeter regional transport & mobility
- Digital information and communications security
Guides covering other Exeter regional policy and practice areas are also being prepared.